Questions linger about Trump's academic record at Wharton

US NEWS TRUMP 10 ABA
President Trump, a University of Pennsylvania grad, does not appear in a report of dean's list students from 1968, when he was at Wharton, or among students who graduated with honors, according to records from the university and its student newspaper.

President Trump has spoken frequently about his undergraduate success at Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania's top-notch business school.

But while claims of Trump's academic prowess at the Ivy League school have been around for decades, questions about how strong his record actually was continue to swirl.

The 1968 Wharton graduate's name does not appear in a report of dean's list students from that year or among students who graduated with honors, according to records from the university and its student newspaper.

Claims that Trump was a top student at Wharton appear to have first surfaced in 1973, when a New York Times profile reported that he graduated first in his class. No attribution was given for that statement. Another early Times profile, in 1976, also said he was first in his class, and the assertion has been repeated many times in the decades since. 

The president has claimed in various instances over the years that he "got very good marks" and "was a really good student"

But records indicate he was not among the top students in his graduating class.

In October 1968, the Daily Pennsylvanian, the independent student newspaper at Penn, published a list of dean's list students for the 1967-68 school year, when Trump graduated. Trump's name wasn't on it.

And a Penn commencement program from 1968 lists Trump as graduating from Wharton with a bachelor of science in economics, but does not include his name among those who received honors or other awards. The program lists 15 undergraduates who graduated cum laude from Wharton that year, four of whom graduated magna cum laude and two with summa cum laude honors. 

The debate about Trump's academic record was renewed this week, when the Daily Pennsylvanian posted a story that included the 1968 documents and quoted alumni who offered varied accounts of Trump's academic abilities.

Questions about his record have been lingering since the 1980s, when both the New York Times and New York magazine published stories refuting the first-in-class claim. Trump has declined to release his transcripts or other records. Penn does not release that information for individual students.

Trump, who has frequently bashed the media during his campaign and first weeks in office, including at a Thursday press conference, has never called out the Times or other news organizations for the potentially erroneous reports that he graduated at the top of his class.

In various recent news reports, Penn alumni from the late 1960s have recalled that Trump, the university's first alum to win the White House, was relatively unremarkable on campus.

Beyond the controversy over his academic records, Trump's relationship with his alma mater has been somewhat contentious.

During the presidential campaign, hundreds of alumni and students signed a letter rebuking Trump's "xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry." There was little enthusiasm on campus for his election victory. The school has declared itself a "sanctuary campus" and says it will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities without a warrant.

Still, the Trump family's ties to Penn have recently grown. The president's daughter, Tiffany, graduated last year from the college's School of Arts and Sciences.

Continue Reading