Poor University of Pennsylvania. One of America’s great universities, with one of America’s great business schools in Wharton, finally got a U.S. president. The bad news is that it is Donald Trump, who spent two years at Wharton as a transfer from Fordham.
Normally—that is, when there was a normal—Penn would be proudly crowing about finally matching other Ivy League schools that can claim such an honor, e.g., seven presidents have Harvard degrees. Instead, Penn has hunkered down, maintaining total silence about Trump’s time at Wharton, his admission, his grades, etc. Almost all the information we have is from Trump himself, most of which has been proven false.
Which leaves Americans, journalist and interested alums gathering crumbs of information. The latest is in the Washington Post: Trump has referred to his Wharton degree as ‘super genius stuff.’ An admissions officer recalls it differently.
A few of the questions that still have no definitive answer:
How did Trump get into Wharton?
At the time he transferred from Fordham to Wharton, it wasn’t nearly as hard to get in as it is now—about a 40% admission rate then, only 7% today. Even with that, his rich father Fred went along on the interview trip, and we don’t know whether any financial incentives changed hands.
How well did Trump do at Wharton?
Hard to tell without grades or many anecdotes, but probably average. It appears that he did pay close attention in real estate class, but was known never to read books. As for his claim that he graduated first in his class:
Trump’s name was not among the top honorees at his commencement. Nor was he on the dean’s list his senior year, meaning he was not among the top 56 students in his graduating class of 366. All that is known for certain is that Trump received at least a 2.0 average, or C, enabling him to graduate.
Does any of this matter?
As usual, Trump simultaneously lies about his achievements and hides the facts. So in one sense this is no different than all his other duplicitous concealments. Still, there are thousands and thousands of people who work really hard to genuinely achieve educational excellence, at Penn and at so many other colleges. It is sad to say that the loudest college graduate in the world isn’t one of those.