Throughout his campaign and nascent presidency, Donald Trump has maintained that he is “a very smart guy” who graduated from Pennsylvania University’s Wharton School of Business at the top of his class.
However, according to a Thursday report from The Daily Pennsylvanian, academic records and the recollections of his classmates don’t line up with Trump’s claims — including a 1984 boast to the New York Times that he graduated “first in his class.”
“Penn records and Trump’s classmates dispute this claim,” wrote the Pennsylvanian’s Alex Rabin and Rebecca Tan. “In 1968, The Daily Pennsylvanian published a list of the 56 students who were on the Wharton Dean’s List that year — Trump’s name is not among them.”
“I recognize virtually all the names on that list, ” said 1968 Wharton graduate Stephen Foxman to the DP, “and Trump just wasn’t one of them.”
A program from the 1968 commencement ceremony shows no mention of Trump’s name, which Wharton graduate Jon Hillsberg said would be highly unlikely if the president had won academic honors.
The program does list, “20 Wharton award and prize recipients, 15 cum laude recipients, four magna cum laude recipients and two summa cum laude recipients for the Class of 1968. Trump’s name appears nowhere on those lists.”
“Given that there are 366 listed 1968 Wharton graduates on QuakerNet, Penn’s alumni database, the Dean’s List of 56 students represents approximately the top 15 percent of the class. The omission of Trump’s name suggests that his academic record at Penn was not as outstanding as he has claimed,” concluded Rabin and Tan.
At other points in his career, Trump has claimed to have an MBA from Wharton, although Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald confirmed that Trump never pursued post-graduate studies at Wharton and only attended the undergraduate program for two years, transferring in as a junior.
University of Pennsylvania spokesman Ron Ozio said in a written statement that the school does not release transcripts or academic records of past graduates, a rule that “does not change because an alumnus is famous or holds a public position.”
Accounts from other students vary. Some recall him being focused and attentive in class. Others say he was absent for much of regular campus life because he preferred to be in New York on the weekends.
“He was really off by himself. He didn’t party or go to football games … [h]e didn’t mingle with the guys going back to hang out and chatting, and stuff like that,” said fellow 1968 graduate Edward Pollard, who, like Trump, transferred into the program in his junior year.
Classmate Louis Calomaris said, “Don … was loath to really study much.”
The future reality TV star would show up to study sessions with classmates without having read the material, Calomaris said, and “didn’t seem to care about being prepared.”
“He spent all his weekends in New York because residential real estate is a weekend business,” Calomaris said.
“He was not an intellectual man, but that wasn’t what his goal was,” he told the DP. “He’s not an intellectual now, [and] that’s pretty obvious … [w]hat I saw early on was an unbounded ambition that did come to fruition, because it matched his firm’s needs, and that’s how these things work.”