Trump’s Academic History: Fact or Fiction?

Our current President, Donald Trump, frequently boasts about his “high IQ,” even going so far as to offer to compare intelligence with his opponents. However, in even a modest contest of wits, our president falls far behind. Coming from a background of huge privilege, it appears that Trump has achieved his academic success through favors and payouts.

Donald Trump attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. A notable professor, William T Kelley who taught at the school for 31 years had told a close friend that Trump was the “dumbest goddamn student” that he had ever had.

In his conversations, Professor Kelley frequently recounted that Donald Trump was not a good student. Although these statements were made while Trump was a celebrity, they came long before he ran for political office. One of the reasons why Kelley looked down on Trump was that he came to the business school assured that he knew everything.

Additionally, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported that Trump’s acceptance to the prestigious school was based on a family favor. In 2001, biographer Gwenda Blair backed up this information and reported that a friendly admissions officer had done Trump a favor. The office had known Trump’s older brother. His classmates did not have any impressive statements about our current president. Steve Perelman, a Wharton classmate said that Trump did not participate in any leadership roles while at the business school.

However, Trump has said that he was first in his class when he graduated from Wharton in 1968. His academic record does not support these statements. Adding insult to injury, the Daily Pennsylvanian listed the 56 students who made the Deans list in 1968 and Trump was not on that list. This means that he was not first in his class and was not even in the top 15% of the class.

Trump has not released his transcripts publicly but it’s certainly not difficult to verify some of his academic history. Wharton graduate Stephen Foxman stated that students who graduated with any honors were mentioned in the commencement program. A copy of the program from the Penn Archives lists 20 Wharton award recipients, 15 cum laude students, four magna cume laude students, and two summa cum laude students. Trump’s name was not on this list. Foxman says that his name would have been listed if Trump had done well, and he certainly does not appear in the high achieving students.

Although never explicitly stated, Trump has suggested that he received an MBA from Wharton’s graduate school. However, that statement was also not true. Although Wharton is known for their business degrees, Trump used that information to reach out to people without sharing the complete truth. Trump did not attend graduate studies at the school and only transferred to Wharton his junior year where he attended the undergraduate program for two years.
Although his former classmates had mixed reviews of their time with Trump, the majority stated that he didn’t seem to be an intellectual and instead chose to leave the campus most weekends to go back to New York. Additionally, Wharton graduate Louis Calomaris said that Trump did not study while at school and put little stock in being prepared.

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