Education - Personal History

Jump to: navigation, search

Kew-Forest School

Early History of Disruptiveness

  • Donald Trump has bragged in print about hitting his second-grade music teacher so hard that he gave the man a black eye. “Donald Trump, the new president-elect of the United States, once said he punched a teacher in the face when he was in the second grade. So did he? Here's what he wrote in his 1987 book, ‘The Art of the Deal’: ‘Even in elementary school, I was a very assertive, aggressive kid. In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye. I punched my music teacher because I didn't think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled. I'm not proud of that, but it's clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a forceful way. The difference now is that I like to use my brain instead of my fists.’” (Washington Post, November 13, 2016)
  • No other witnesses or documentary evidence supports Trump’s claim and Trump has walked back his claim when challenged to defend it.. “As a second grader, as Trump has described it, he punched his music teacher, giving him a ‘black eye’ because ‘I didn't think he knew anything about music, and I almost got expelled. I'm not proud of that, but it's clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way.’ Peter Brant, his best friend at Kew-Forest, is among several of Donald's pals who recall neither the incident nor Trump's ever mentioning it. When Trump was asked again about the incident decades later, he said, ‘When I say 'punch' when you're that age, nobody punches very hard. But I was very rambunctious in school.’” (Washington Post, November 13, 2016)
  • One of Donald Trump’s music teachers from elementary school has described him as “a pain” who needed”attention all the time.” “For nearly half a century Mr. Walker -- teacher, choirmaster, organist and organ designer, conductor, professor, operetta-company director -- has served the Upper East Side as a sort of semi-official master of musical ceremonies, both secular and sacred. […] In addition to his duties at the Heavenly Rest, Mr. Walker became the president of the American Guild of Organists and taught at the Kew-Forest School in Queens, where one of his pupils was young Donald Trump. ‘He was a pain. There are certain kids that need attention all the time,’ Mr. Walker recalled. ‘He was one of those.’” (New York Times, February 23, 2000)
  • Witnesses have confirmed that Donald Trump was a disruptive student who was constantly in trouble with school administrators. “According to the book ‘Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power,’ by Washington Post reporters Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump attended the private Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, N.Y., where he often got into trouble. He and his friends would disrupt class ‘with wisecracks and unruly behavior, such as throwing spitballs and playing racing chairs with desks.’ The book also says this: ‘By his own account, Trump's primary focus in elementary school was ‘creating mischief because, for some reason, I liked to stir things up and I liked to test people.... It wasn't malicious so much as it was aggressive.’” (Washington Post, November 13, 2016)
  • Donald Trump’s father served on the governing board of Kew-Forest, the private academy where Trump attended elementary school. “Donald Trump likes to talk about how smart he is. […] When he was young, he went to the private Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, Queens, where his father, Frederick, a very wealthy real estate developer, was on the governing board. Behavior problems led to Donald's exit from the school, at which point he was sent to the New York Military Academy at age 13 by his parents, who, according to, hoped ‘the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.’” (Washington Post, July 17, 2015)

Yearbook Photos

Kew Forest School

New York Military Academy

  • 1984: Fred Trump bragged that he put Donald in military school to prevent him from “growing up with spoiled kids” and bragged that he made his son ride the subway rather than paying for a car service to ferry him to school. “His father pulled Donald Trump out of a prep school because he didn't want his son growing up with spoiled kids with $40 ball gloves, sending him instead to military school. His father bragged at the sports forum that he had taken the subway and saved $15 car fare.” (New York Times, April 8, 1984)
  • Donald Trump was part of the New York Military Academy’s Class of 1964. “Forget The National Enquirer for a second. If you really want to learn celebrities' deep, dark secrets, read their high school yearbooks. In high school, Donald Trump was voted the Popularity Poll's Class of 1964 Ladies' Man.” (Palm Beach Post, January 2, 1991)
  • Trump once bragged that his prep school education had given him more military training than members of the military get. “Donald J. Trump, who received draft deferments through much of the Vietnam War, told the author of a coming biography that he nevertheless ‘always felt that I was in the military’ because of his education at a military-themed boarding school. Mr. Trump said his experience at the New York Military Academy, an expensive prep school where his parents had sent him to correct poor behavior, gave him ‘more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.’ That claim may raise eyebrows given that Mr. Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate, never served in the military and mocked Senator John McCain of Arizona, a decorated naval aviator, for his captivity of several years during the Vietnam War.” (New York Times, September 9, 2015)
  • Donald Trump’s yearbook identified being a “Ladies’ Man” as his greatest achievement. “Donald Trump wasn't voted most athletic or even the most likely to succeed by the class of 1964 at New York Military Academy. […] And Trump? He was voted ladies man. Said Bekman: ‘There wasn't a lot of time for girls, but he was a good-looking guy and athletic. It was appropriate.’” (USA Today, May 30, 1990)
  • John Gotti Jr., the son of infamous mafia boss John Gotti and later leader of the Gambino crime family, was a student at the New York Military Academy. “The venerable New York Military Academy, whose most famous graduate - Donald Trump - could be president of the United States, will soon be no more. […] Many famous alums include bandleader Les Brown; Green Mountain Coffee founder Bob Stiller; Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim; filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola (who didn't graduate); and former organized crime figure John A. Gotti, alleged to have been the acting boss of the Gambino family from 1992 to 1999 after his father, John Gotti, went to prison. Gotti also didn't graduate.” (Washington Post, September 16, 2015)
    • Gotti has praised the school for teaching him to be self-reliant and breaking his dependency on his mother. “Among its thousands of alumni, the 126-year-old New York Military Academy counts the unlikely grouping of Donald J. Trump, Stephen Sondheim and John A. Gotti. Yet all three have this in common: They remember their time at the prep school with deep affection. ‘It got me away from my mother -- she babied me,’ said Mr. Gotti, whose father, John J. Gotti, the debonair boss of the Gambino crime family, sent him there to gain structured habits after he was skipping classes. ‘It made me get out on my own, grow as a man, made me responsible. I couldn't depend on my mother.’” (New York Times, September 21, 2015)
  • Donald Trump refused to release transcripts of his grades from his time at the New York Military Academy. “Trump, who in 2012 offered $5 million for the release of President Obama's college transcript and other documents, said he would not give The Post permission to review his records from the military academy. ‘I'm not letting you look at anything,’ he said. ‘Why would I let you look at my records? You're doing a lousy story.’” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • Donald Trump's classmates recall that he enjoyed special privileges and was often granted exemptions from the academy's strict rules governing student conduct. “Some former classmates said Trump seemed to enjoy luxuries others did not. His higher rank during his senior year allowed him to leave campus on weekends and holidays when other students remained at the school. Trump and several friends went on a chaperoned school trip to Bermuda, some former cadets said. Trump never received favorable treatment, Dobias and the candidate said. Yet some lower-ranking cadets wondered whether Trump's wealth played a role. ‘He was definitely privileged,’ said Douglas Reichel, who said he was a year behind Trump and a member of A Company. ‘That group of people got treated much differently. They got promoted each year.’ Trump often brought young women to the school - although they weren't allowed as far as his room - earning him the title of ‘Ladies' Man’ in his senior yearbook. ‘They were beautiful, gorgeous women, dressed out of Saks Fifth Avenue,’ remembers George White, a former cadet.” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)

Trump Reassigned As Student Officer Over Hazing Incident

  • As a senior at the New York Military Academy, Trump was abruptly reassigned mid-year as the "commander" of a student company. “From the moment 17-year-old Donald Trump was named a captain for his senior year at New York Military Academy, he ordered the officers under his command to keep strict discipline. Shoes had to be shined. Beds had to be made. Underclassmen had to spring to attention. Then, a month into Trump's tenure in the fall of 1963, came an abrupt change. The tall, confident senior with a shock of blond hair was removed from that coveted post atop A Company and transferred to a new job on the school staff - another prestigious assignment, but one with no command responsibilities. He moved out of the barracks and into the administration building, swapping jobs with a fellow high-ranking senior who took command of Trump's old group. Explanations vary as to what actually happened.” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • Former students who remembered Trump claimed that he was reassigned as a student leader because of administration concerns that his neglectful approach to leadership had contributed to a violent hazing incident against one of the students under his command. “Former cadets […] say school administrators transferred Trump after a freshman named Lee Ains complained of being hazed by a sergeant under Trump's command. School officials, those cadets say, were concerned that Trump's style of delegating leadership responsibilities while spending a lot of time in his room, away from his team, allowed problems to fester. ‘They felt he wasn't paying attention to his other officers as closely as he should have,’ said Ains, who lives in Connecticut and works in the aerospace industry.” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • The student who complained to the Administration about being abused in a hazing incident did not accuse Trump of taking part in the violence, but rather of neglecting his unit's discipline and failing to investigate instances of misconduct, thus indirectly promoting a culture of indiscipline and violence. “During his short stint as head of A Company, Trump had a hands-off approach to his position, according to five former cadets interviewed by The Post. He would usually head straight from dinner to his room, leaving his officers to inspect the cadets. In his absence, he would order his officers to keep younger cadets in line, and the atmosphere within A Company quickly became tense. Hazing was an integral part of school culture, and without the firm hand of A Company's commander, underclassmen felt at risk, cadets said. ‘He was a delegator,’ said Ains, the former cadet who said he was hazed. ‘I think he knew a lot of things [going on in the barracks], but I don't know how far he dug into it.’ Ains took the rare step of complaining to school administrators about the alleged hazing incident, in which he said a sergeant threw him against a wall. The sergeant was demoted, Ains remembers, and Trump was moved from A Company to the school staff.” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • Both the student who was reassigned to Trump’s position and the student who had been hazed recalled that the command reassignment was intended to better deal with the problem of violent hazing amongst the cadets. “Bill Specht, the cadet who switched places with Trump, recalled an administrator telling him about the hazing incident and saying that ‘the school has decided that they are going to make a switch.’ The commandant who ordered the transfer, Col. Joseph C. Angello, has since died. School officials declined to comment. […] Specht, Trump's replacement, immediately cracked down on hazing in A Company, Ains said. ‘He would come around to the different rooms at any time and make sure that the students were studying and that they weren't being interfered with by any older cadets,’ Ains said. Specht said he remembers well the moment the school commandant gave him the news. ‘Colonel Angello called me down and said, 'You're going to go to A Company, and Donald is taking your position on the staff as a captain,'’ Specht recalled. Specht said Angello referred to a ‘hazing incident’ in A Company as he explained that ‘the school has decided that they are going to make a switch.’ The sudden swap was a disappointment for Specht, who had been at or near the top of his class since arriving at NYMA. ‘I obviously wasn't happy about the switch, because it was more work for me,’ he said.” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • During his presidential campaign, Trump maintained - implausibly and in the face of substantial evidence - that his transfer out of command had reflected a decision to promote him rather than a failure to provide discipline to the students under his command. “Trump, 69, vigorously rejected the accounts of his former classmates' recollections, lashing out at The Washington Post over the course of three phone interviews for ‘doing a lousy story.’ He attacked his former fellow cadets, calling Ains's account ‘fiction’ and accusing him of speaking only ‘to get himself a little bit of publicity.’ Regarding Specht, the cadet who replaced him in A Company, Trump said the transfer ‘was a promotion for me, and it was a demotion for him.’ After an initial interview, Trump called The Post twice to argue his point. ‘I was promoted. The word is 'promoted' - Mark it down,’ Trump said.” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • Trump’s former mentor at the Academy insisted that Trump had been reassigned because he did not impose enough discipline on the students under his command, even in the face of direct prompting by Trump to say that the reassignment was meant as a promotion for Trump. “Trump told The Post that he never saw any hazing at the school. ‘I did a good job, and that's why I got elevated,’ he said. ‘You don't get elevated if you partake in hazing.’ […] Dobias, Trump's mentor, said he had no knowledge of the hazing incident that allegedly took place during Trump's command. Dobias said he recalled that Trump's replacement had been brought into A Company to keep a closer watch on cadets. Moving Trump ‘was the choice of the commandant, and there must have been a good reason for it,’ Dobias said. ‘I think the guy who took over A Company was a little tougher on the kids than Donald was, so they moved [Trump] up onto the staff.’ […] When asked directly about Dobias's comment that Trump had been switched out of A Company because he wasn't tough enough on the cadets, Trump shot back: ‘I guarantee he didn't say that.’ A moment later, Dobias seemed to strike a middle ground: ‘Donald Trump wasn't tough enough on the kids, so he got promoted on the staff.’” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)
  • While Trump’s reassignment was prompted by his failure as a commander of students, the new position he was given was technically higher ranked than the position he was removed from. “Whatever the reason for Trump's transfer, it ultimately served as a de facto promotion. It was Trump, not Specht, who chaperoned visiting dignitaries around the academy during their senior year. And it was Trump, not Specht, who, just a few days after the transfer, was put in charge of a special drill team for New York City's Columbus Day parade. […] On Oct. 12, a white-gloved Trump led not only NYMA but the entire parade down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he was met by Cardinal Francis Spellman. For Trump, the photos of that day are proof enough that his time at NYMA was nothing but successful. ‘I was always good at that school,’ he said. ‘Take a look at the pictures. I'm standing at the head of the whole place.’” (Washington Post, January 10, 2016)

Students Physically Abused

  • 2003: The New York Military Academy was sued by the parents of a student who had been assaulted in his sleep in an attack known on campus as a 'lock 'n sock' because it entailed clubbing new students with a bicycle lock stuffed inside of a tube sock. “In 2003, the academy was sued by Cristina Kerr of Florida, whose son had been at the academy for nine days when he woke up with blood pouring out of his nose and face. While sleeping, he had been clubbed over the head with a bicycle lock inside a tube sock, a practice known at the school as a ‘lock n sock.’ He suffered a broken nose and lost a tooth and left the school. The suit was settled last June for $290,000. Three students were expelled and pleaded guilty to charges of assault or attempted assault in town and family courts.” (New York Times, February 20, 2005)
  • 2004: A student at the New York Military Academy was subjected to several serious acts of violence from other students, requiring medical treatment at a nearby hospital. “Karen and Michael Sawyer had not heard of that case when their son, gung-ho on the military, enrolled this fall, hoping to be an Air Force pilot. In early December, according to their lawsuit, the Sawyers got a call from a hospital near the academy, where their son had been sent because of a deep puncture wound in his leg, which had bled so profusely it had to be stapled shut. He'd cut himself on a bedspring, their son told them. […] About six weeks […] their son was at the hospital again, this time bleeding from a deep cut in his head. […] ‘Please tell me what's really happening,’ Mrs. Sawyer said she told her son. […] The next day […] he recounted multiple beatings and routine abuse. He said the first injury occurred when his roommate stabbed him with a broken broom handle with a jagged metal edge, the second when a student officer rammed his head into the lock on a metal locker.” (New York Times, February 20, 2005)
    • School officials defended the students who had conducted the attacks, telling the student’s parent that his attackers were in anger management classes and that in the past, violence among students had eventually “gone away” of its own accord. “When she returned to the school to face officials she secretly recorded the conversation. The commandant of the academy, Richard Ashton, told her that similar incidents had been reported by other students who had returned, and ‘everything has gone away.’ He said that her son would be put in a safe place, that the school would conduct its own investigation and that ‘if cadets show they have a pattern of misconduct,’ they would be expelled. “He is in anger management,” he said of a student officer overseeing her son. ‘But that doesn't make him a bad kid. He has a bad temper. According to your son, he took it out on your son.’ She did not send her son back to the school. ‘They have this wonderful mission statement, but the reality is that it's a torture chamber in there,’ she said. ‘The kids are in charge. It's 'The Lord of the Flies.’’” (New York Times, February 20, 2005)
    • Criminal charges were eventually brought against three students over the severe abuse of their fellow student. “A 15-year-old cadet faces a felony charge of second-degree assault in the case, and he, a 17-year-old student officer and the 18-year-old student officer face a variety of hazing, harassment, conspiracy and assault charges. The school says the three have been suspended and are not on campus. In written statements, the school says that it has begun its own investigation into the incidents and its student misconduct policies and that it has a ‘no tolerance policy toward any violence, lying, cheating, bullying and hazing.’ No officials would comment further.” (New York Times, February 20, 2005)
  • Dozens of cases of student violence reportedly occurred at the New York Military Academy, prompting local law enforcement to warn school officials of their duty to promptly report criminal activity committed by students on the campus. “These are not the only allegations of abuse at the school in recent years. Andrew Laskin, the lawyer who filed the lawsuits on behalf of the Kerrs and the Sawyers, says that about another dozen confirmed or alleged incidents have surfaced over more than a decade, some in lawsuits, some in response to lawsuits and publicity. In a letter last February, the local police chief warned school officials about their failure to promptly report possible criminal activity.” (New York Times, February 20, 2005)
  • One of the last superintendents of the New York Military Academy told a reporter that the school had made a mistake decades earlier by advertising "themselves as tough-love institutions for troubled youths." “Captain Watts and others say military academies made a critical error decades ago when they positioned themselves as tough-love institutions for troubled youths. Advertisements for N.Y.M.A. decades ago asked parents to send broken young men to be fixed and polished. That was an off-putting message, led students to leave once they were ‘fixed’ and created an atmosphere that helped lead to a series of hazing episodes more than five years ago that were a public-relations catastrophe.” (New York Times, May 6, 2010)

Financial Troubles

  • 2010: The New York Military Academy announced that financial pressure would force it to close operations at the end of the school year. “One of the nation's oldest military-style boarding schools, whose students have included real estate tycoon Donald Trump and film director Francis Ford Coppola, plans to close because of financial problems. The New York Military Academy was founded in 1889. School superintendent Robert Watts said it will close after the academic year ends this spring. The school has about 150 students in grades 7-12.” (Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2010)
  • School officials claimed they required $7 million to pay down debt and keep the school operating. “Trustees announced the closing after several years of financial problems and near-death experiences. They said they needed $7 million to pay down debt, increase enrollment and put the school on a sustainable path. Officials hold out slim hopes that alumni will come up with enough money to avert a shutdown or restart the school if it closes.” (New York Times, May 6, 2010)
  • The school's superintendent claimed that its alumni had a net worth of $2.5 billion (substantially less than Trump's claimed net worth at the time, despite his being an alumnus), but that alumni giving only accounted for 5% of the school's annual (and inadequate) budget. "Still, the most galling and perhaps damning thing for N.Y.M.A. is that its own alumni have never been loyal financial supporters. Alumni have a net worth of $2.5 billion, Captain Watts said. But they usually provide no more than 5 percent of the academy's annual funds, leaving it almost totally dependent on tuition, and they haven't stepped up as the school faces a shutdown." (New York Times, May 6, 2010)
  • September, 2015: The New York Military Academy failed to open for the school year due to financial problems, leaving many students scrambling to make last-minute arrangements. “Among its thousands of alumni, the 126-year-old New York Military Academy counts the unlikely grouping of Donald J. Trump, Stephen Sondheim and John A. Gotti. […] Such fond memories might no longer be born there. After struggling financially for years and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, the private boarding school did not open as promised last Monday. Its 113 acres of land and buildings are scheduled to go on the auction block at the end of this month for a minimum bid of $9.5 million, with no requirement that the buyer maintain a school there.” (New York Times, September 21, 2015)
  • September, 2015: A federal judge in bankruptcy court ordered the new York Military Academy put up for auction in a bid to satisfy the insolvent school’s creditors. “The venerable New York Military Academy, whose most famous graduate - Donald Trump - could be president of the United States, will soon be no more. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York has ordered the ‘immediate sale’ of the 126-year-old school, according to an ad in the New York Times on Wednesday spotted by our colleague Walter Pincus. The ‘minimum bid’ is $9.5 million, the ad says, but we're thinking it's going to fetch a lot more. After all, the prep school, which overlooks the Hudson River 60 miles north of the New York City and is just ‘minutes from West Point,’ has a number of buildings on 77 acres, plus about 36 acres of vacant land next to it.” (Washington Post, September 16, 2015)
  • 2015: Concerned alumni held out hope that Trump would intervene to save the school from bankruptcy, but Trump did nothing to help his struggling alma mater. “There was some hope among alumni in the days and weeks before the auction that Mr. Trump, a member of the graduating class of 1964, would, like the cavalry, ride to the school's rescue with a big check. He described in a recent biography how his years at the academy had matured him after he was known for rowdy behavior at a preparatory school in Queens. The experience, he told the biographer, left him with the feeling ‘that I was in the military.’ But Mr. Trump, who obtained draft deferments during the Vietnam era, did not make a bid.” (New York Times, October 1, 2015)
    • 2011: Donald Trump refused an entreaty from his alma mater to save the school by donating $7 million to pay down its debts. “According to Rich Pezzullo, a 1976 alumnus who headed a committee to rescue the nonprofit school, Mr. Trump was asked four years ago for $7 million but determined that the school was a failing enterprise and that he had better uses for his philanthropy. Ten years earlier, he had offered to donate a building, Mr. Pezzullo said, presumably one that might have been named for the donor, but the school preferred cash. Mr. Trump dropped his offer.” (New York Times, September 21, 2015)
  • October, 2015: The New York Military Academy was purchased out of bankruptcy and reopened by a consortium of Chinese investors. “The New York Military Academy, a 126-year-old boarding school whose graduates include the Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, was bought on Wednesday for close to $16 million at a bankruptcy auction by a nonprofit group controlled by Chinese investors, who told academy officials that they would keep it open as a high school. The Research Center on Natural Conservation, the successful bidder for the 113 scenic acres of buildings, barracks and land in Cornwall-on-Hudson, was formed in 2011 to buy another marquee New York property, the Arden House, in Harriman, N.Y. […] Records from the Internal Revenue Service and New York State indicate the nonprofit's president is Vincent Tianquan Mo, of China and Great Neck, N.Y., who is the founder and chairman of SouFun Holdings, a Beijing-based real estate website that owns the former AIG building near Wall Street in New York City.” (New York Times, October 1, 2015)
  • The New York Military Academy’s new investors hired a superintendent from Stuyvesant to reopen the school. “The principal of Stuyvesant High School -- among New York City's finest schools -- will be taking a new job as superintendent of a struggling military academy near West Point, a school whose most prominent alumni include Donald J. Trump. The New York Military Academy, a 127-year-old military-themed boarding school in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., announced on Monday that Jie Zhang, who has been principal of Stuyvesant since early 2013, will become superintendent in July. Grappling with bankruptcy, the military academy was bought at auction in September for $16 million by a nonprofit conservation group run by Vincent Tianquan Mo, a real estate entrepreneur based in China and Great Neck, N.Y. The school, which once had an enrollment of 500, had just 10 students this past semester and expects 100 this coming fall.” (New York Times, June 14, 2016)

Yearbook Photos

New York Military Academy

Fordham University

  • Donald Trump has reminisced about studying for the SATs, claiming he remembered "trying to bone up on history for some ridiculous reason." “There was a time when students taking the SAT needed only two things: a sharpened No. 2 pencil and steady nerves. That day is long gone. […] 'My memory of the test is one I think I blotted out. I knew it was a big deal. I recall trying to bone up on history for some ridiculous reason.’ DONALD TRUMP, businessman, University of Pennsylvania, 1968” (New York Times, November 7, 2004)

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

Trump Alternately Brags About and Demeans His Education at Wharton

  • Donald Trump has bragged about the difficulty of earning admission to the Wharton School of Finance, claiming it shows how smart he actually is. “Mr. Trump is understandably proud of graduating from Wharton, and the presidential candidate talks about it all the time. ‘I went to the Wharton School of Finance,’ he said in a July 11 speech in Phoenix. ‘I'm, like, a really smart person.’ On Aug. 16, he told Chuck Todd, on ‘Meet the Press,’ about the school: It's ‘probably the hardest there is to get into,’ and, ‘Some of the great business minds in the world have gone to Wharton.’” (New York Times, September 29, 2015)
    • Trump boasted of his Wharton education several times during the 2016 election campaign. “Mr. Trump is understandably proud of graduating from Wharton, and the presidential candidate talks about it all the time. ‘I went to the Wharton School of Finance,’ he said in a July 11 speech in Phoenix. ‘I'm, like, a really smart person.’ On Aug. 16, he told Chuck Todd, on ‘Meet the Press,’ about the school: It's ‘probably the hardest there is to get into,’ and, ‘Some of the great business minds in the world have gone to Wharton.’” (New York Times, September 29, 2015)
  • Trump reportedly used family connections, specifically a classmate of his older brother Fred, to win admission to Wharton as a transfer student. “How did Trump get into the University of Pennsylvania? A 2011 Salon magazine article refers to a 2001 book called ‘The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire,’ by Gwenda Blair. It says that Trump's grades at Fordham, a Jesuit school in New York, had been ‘respectable,’ and that he was admitted to Penn after an interview with a ‘friendly’ Wharton admissions officer who was an old classmate of Trump's older brother. (Washington Post, July 17, 2015)
  • Trump has also disparaged the value of his degree from Wharton, claiming in his first book that “the most important thing I learned at Wharton” was that his degree “doesn’t prove very much.” “He often has touted his Wharton education - Trump transferred as a junior from Fordham University to Wharton, where he earned an undergraduate degree. But he wrote in his book The Art of the Deal that academic credentials aren't all they are cracked up to be. ‘Perhaps the most important thing I learned at Wharton was not to be overly impressed by academic credentials.... That degree doesn't prove very much,’ he wrote.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10, 2016)
  • Trump has credited his education at Wharton with teaching him how to break all the rules and regulations that allegedly governed business. “‘I took a lot of finance courses at Wharton,’ says New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump, ‘and first they taught you all the rules and regulations. Then they taught you that those rules and regulations are really meant to be broken; it's the person who can create new ideas who is really going to be the success.’” (Forbes, March 9, 1987)
  • 1985: The Associated Press falsely reported that Donald Trump had graduated first in his class from Wharton: “Anything is possible in Donald Trump's world. For what Donald Trump wants, Donald Trump gets, going after it with a single-mindedness that borders on fanaticism. […] Now, this graduate of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce (first in his class) at the University of Pennsylvania, who started with his father's cushion of $40 million in real estate and has multiplied it ten or twentyfold, would like to get down to the serious business of world peace.” (Associated Press, February 24, 1985)
  • Early profiles of Trump claimed that Trump had been first in his class at Wharton, but in the 1980s, a journalist who investigated the claim found no evidence that Trump received honors of any kind at Wharton. “Thirty-one years ago, the estimable William E. Geist -- not to be confused with his son Willie, of ‘Morning Joe’ and ‘Today’ show fame -- spent a day or so following Donald Trump around New York and wrote about it in a memorable New York Times Magazine cover story. […] Mr. Geist pointed out that ‘just about every profile ever written’ about Mr. Trump -- including stories in The New York Times in 1973 and 1976 -- journalists say that he graduated first in his class at Wharton. ‘Although the school refused comment, the commencement program from 1968 does not list him as graduating with honors of any kind,’ Mr. Geist wrote.” (New York Times, September 29, 2015)
  • 2015: An investigation by the campus newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania found no evidence that Trump had been a distinguished student at Wharton, but did find evidence indicating that Trump had in fact been a mediocre student. “In August, The Daily Pennsylvanian, the University of Pennsylvania newspaper, tried to get to the bottom of whether Mr. Trump did in fact graduate first in his class at Wharton. The paper cited a 1985 Trump biography, by Jerome Tuccille, that said Mr. Trump was not an honor student and ‘spent a lot of time on outside business activities.’ Gwenda Blair, another Trump biographer, wrote that he was able to get into Wharton only because a ‘friendly’ admissions officer knew his older brother, Fred Trump Jr., and did him a favor. A classmate of Mr. Trump's, Steven Perelman, told the paper, ‘He was not in any kind of leadership. I certainly doubt he was the smartest guy in the class.’” (New York Times, September 29, 2015)
  • In court depositions, Trump demonstrated ignorance about basic financial concepts that have been part of the first-year curriculum at Wharton since Donald Trump’s time as a student there. “Mr. Trump now puts his net worth at $10 billion. But in a deposition he gave in 2007 in connection with the O'Brien lawsuit, it was clear that Mr. Trump gave himself a lot of latitude in calculating his wealth. […] He also demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge about a basic fundamental principle of corporate finance -- called net present value -- that bankers and traders the world over use to value assets or companies, especially private ones like Mr. Trump's for which there are no publicly traded stocks. Whether Mr. Trump understood this basic valuation concept arose in the context of questions about how he valued his golf courses. (Net present value, by the way, compares the value of receiving a dollar today with the value of receiving a dollar in the future, taking into account a variety of risk factors.) The deposition wasn't a finance exam and not every successful businessman has to be conversant in the arcane terms of the discipline. But Wharton teaches the concept of net present value in its introductory finance courses. A top Wharton graduate who excelled in finance would probably remember that.” (New York Times, September 29, 2015)
  • 1986: Trump claimed that he was not a financial donor to his alma mater, the Wharton School, because he preferred to donate to needier charities such as the Vietnam War Memorial. “Trump has thus far declined to become a major patron of the school. ‘I think a great deal of Wharton,’ he says. ‘They turn out a very aggressive, very competitive type of student, which I respect. But, let's face it, it's a very wealthy school. My inclination has always been to give money to people who need it - to New York City's homeless or to Vietnam vets' organizations.’ Trump has donated $1 million to the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, as well as hefty sums to such charities as Boys Towns of Italy and United Cerebral Palsy. What he did for the homeless, though, was to offer them vacant apartments at 100 Central Park South - a move that, as he himself acknowledged, might lead tenants already in the building to depart, allowing him to replace the building with a larger one.” (New York Times, June 8, 1986)
  • While Wharton is famous for its graduate business program, it is one of the few business schools in America that has a far less prestigious undergraduate program for people who want business training without a broader education in the liberal arts. “Back in the late Forties, Fifties and Sixties most other schools, including Columbia, folded their undergraduate business programs -- how could you give a bachelor's degree to someone who was ignorant of the finer things in life? But Wharton clung to its undergraduate program, adding a number of liberal arts courses to appease the critics. Today it's universally regarded as the best undergraduate business school in the country. Trump got his bachelor's degree there, as did Martin Zweig, the well-known stock tipster. Says Bear, Stearns' Michael Tarnopol, who earned his bachelor's at Wharton in 1958: ‘[We] were people who couldn't wait, who aspired to be out in the business world as quickly as possible, who couldn't afford the time or money to go to graduate school at the time.’” (Forbes, March 9, 1987)

Trump Business Connections Forged By Wharton

This section has a lot of undeveloped leads, especially on business figures who share a Wharton link with Trump. Certain figures play an outsized and underappreciated role in Trump's life (especially the Lauder heirs) and appear to have been initially exposed to him through Wharton.

  • Wharton developed a reputation for producing famously unethical businessmen. “Harvard Business School has the reputation for producing corporate presidents. But it is from the ranks of Wharton graduates that come those who strike fear into the hearts of the business establishment. People like alumni Saul Steinberg, Laurence Tisch, Ronald Perelman, Michael Milken, Donald Trump. Wharton's dean, Russell Palmer, seems a little nervous at having his school too closely tied to Wall Street's high rollers. ‘I don't think we have any great preponderance of finance people over here,’ he says. Maybe not, but his office is in the suite named after the MacAndrews & Forbes Group (chairman Ronald Perelman, class of '66) in Steinberg Hall (Saul Steinberg, class of '59).” (Forbes, March 9, 1987)
  • More famous corporate predators who graduated from Wharton (most notably 100 partners at Drexel Burnham, but also Mort Zuckerman): “No, not every Wharton graduate unfurls the Jolly Roger upon graduation. Wharton has graduated a healthy number of smart businessmen of a more conventional cut. […] But in 1987, at least, the finance-oriented alumni are the ones making a splash: Geoffrey Boisi, the Goldman, Sachs general partner who has probably arranged more giant mergers and acquisitions than anyone; Martin Lipton, the takeover attorney; Jon Burnham of Drexel Burnham Lambert; his father, I. W. Burnham, and more than 100 other members of that controversial but groundbreaking firm. The list goes on and on: Richard Campbell, chief financial officer of PaineWebber; Alvin Shoemaker, chairman of the board of First Boston; Michael Tarnopol, managing director of Bear, Stearns; Mortimer Zuckerman, who is chairman of both Boston Properties and U.S. News & World Report magazine.” (Forbes, March 9, 1987)
  • While Wharton was quick to praise the business acumen of its criminal alumni during the 1980s, the school offered no courses in business ethics. “Four years ago, Russell Palmer, then dean of Wharton, hailed Donald Trump, Milken and Saul Steinberg for possessing Wharton's ‘golden touch’ of business intuition. He said he would change the curriculum in favor of entrepreneurial training and teaching. Soon afterward, Wharton's links to the University of Pennsylvania's liberal-arts curriculum were severed, and the Sol Snyder Entrepreneurial Center became the dominant force at the school. Gone was a brand of management schooling that integrated ethics and social responsibility into business practice. Wharton -- widely regarded as among the best of the business schools -- placed Milken's picture on its ‘Wall of Fame,’ erected by Wharton students to honor ‘prominent alumni for their outstanding achievements and contributions to society.’ It was only grudgingly removed following Milken's indictment. […] In Wharton's spring, 1991, undergraduate-course roster, and in the graduate offerings at the Sol Snyder center, not a single course in business ethics is offered. But ‘Mergers and Acquisitions,’ ‘Entrepreneurial Venture Initiation’ and ‘Corporate Venturing’ are prominent.” (Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1991)
  • This item is an unexplored lead: Marine Midland Bank and Russell Palmer: The dean of Trump’s alma mater, Wharton, was also on the Board of Directors of Marine Midland Bank (one of his largest creditors, which ultimately collapsed under the weight of Trump’s debt defaults). “Interviews with dozens of professors, alumni and outside observers have yielded up some solid ideas of what makes Wharton tick. One factor is the entrepreneurial bent of the faculty. Many professors hold down consulting jobs. Most are on the boards of companies themselves. Marketing professor Leonard Lodish, for instance, is a board member of American Health Systems Inc., Travelers Mortgage Service, Inc. and Information Resources. Dean Palmer himself is on a dozen boards, including GTE and Marine Midland Banks.” (Forbes, March 9, 1987)

Campus Had Love-Hate Relationship With Trump

  • Donald Trump received an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. "Donald Trump, he of the messy divorce and the heavy debt, has an insult added to the injuries: Someone has stolen his picture from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School Hall of Fame. Trump, a 1968 graduate of the Philadelphia business school and one of 16 alumni with portraits in the hall, said through a spokeswoman that a new portrait is on the way. (Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1991)
  • 1986: Trump was considered a “folk hero” on campus at his alma mater, the Wharton School, despite his known unethical business practices. “Wharton undergraduates are more likely to be people who have decided early on a fast-track career in business. Donald Trump, for example, a 1968 B.S., was already cutting real estate deals in Philadelphia while an undergraduate. […] The developer is admired for thinking supremely big - currently on his drawing board are a domed stadium, for Queens, and the world's tallest building, for Manhattan's West Side - and for his dynamism and public visibility. Trump's much criticized role in landlord-tenant disputes and his use of tax abatement incentives to subsidize luxury housing do not seem to interfere with his star status at Wharton.” (New York Times, June 8, 1986)
  • Wharton asked its faculty members to refrain from commenting on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, even as Trump routinely misstated the school’s name while bragging on the campaign trail about his attendance there. “Professors on campus are staying mostly mum about Mr. Trump's presidential prospects, but when it comes to his political marketing skills some of them cannot help but appreciate his results. […] As for Wharton, it has been handling its own bout of Trump publicity with care. The school has asked its faculty members to avoid discussing Mr. Trump's politics publicly. And his incorrect use of its name - he calls it ‘The Wharton School of Finance’ - has not gone unnoticed. ‘He's not treated in the most reverent tone here,’ Professor Berger said. ‘But we wish all of our students well.’” (New York Times, September 1, 2015)
  • 1988: Donald Trump was once one of 18 Wharton alumni honored by a “hall of fame” at the school, which included the corporate criminal, Michael Milken. “Michael Milken, the indicted junk bond financier, has been returned to the ‘alumni honor roll’ at his graduate school alma mater. […] The Milken photograph, together with 17 other picture-plaques, will remain until students vote at an unspecified date on a new group of alumni to be placed on the so-called alumni honor roll. Those now shown were chosen in 1986. Among alumni honored on the Wharton wall are entrepreneur Donald Trump, media magnate Walter Annenberg, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, CBS founder William Paley, Apple Computer Inc.'s John Sculley, Robert Crandall of American Airlines and beer tycoon August Busch III. […] Milken was indicted in March on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud in connection with his activities with the Wall Street investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., where he headed the junk bond division. He has pleaded innocent.” (Chicago Tribune, October 24, 1989)
  • 2007: Trump was featured in an edition of Wharton Alumni Magazine as “The Best Brand Name in Real Estate. “He […] went to Fordham University, a Jesuit school in the Bronx, for two years, before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania and studied economics for two years, graduating in 1968 with a bachelor's degree. He took undergraduate classes at Penn's famed Wharton School of Economics. Though he was not enrolled in Wharton's prestigious MBA program, the Spring 2007 Wharton Alumni Magazine featured Trump, with this headline, ‘The Best Brand Name in Real Estate.’” (Washington Post, July 17, 2015)
  • July 2016: Alumni of the Wharton school of business signed an open letter deploring Trump’s presidential campaign and expressing outrage “that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance.” “Donald J. Trump often cites his undergraduate degree from University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton business school as evidence that he is a pretty smart guy and singularly qualified to be president. But some in the Wharton community would prefer the presumptive Republican presidential nominee simply leave his alma mater out of his campaign. In an open letter to Mr. Trump, Wharton backers wrote that they have been ‘deeply disappointed’ in his candidacy and ‘outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance.’” (New York Times, July 12, 2016)
  • The letter decrying Trump’s bigotry was signed by 2,000 former students of Wharton. “‘Although we do not aim to make any political endorsements with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign,’ said the letter, which was posted to and as of Monday morning carried the signatures of about 2,000 Wharton students, alumni, faculty members and other supporters.” (New York Times, July 12, 2016)
  • At the time of the letter, Wharton claimed to have 94,000 alumni. “Some 500 alumni and students at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School have signed a letter rebuking Donald Trump for ‘xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign.’ […] While the letter had more than 500 signatories as of Saturday, Wharton itself claims to have about 94,000 alumni from 152 countries.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10, 2016)

University of Southern California (Film School

  • Donald Trump has claimed that he applied for film school in 1968, but instead opted to join his father’s real estate business. “1968 - The year he decided not to go to film school: Donald Trump, real-estate mogul ‘I had applied to University of Southern California school of cinema. I wanted to make movies. That was in 1968, when I graduated from Wharton. But my dad was in real estate in Brooklyn and Queens and I had a base, so I decided to put show business into real estate. And it's a better business. There's less risk.’” (Palm Beach Post, December 31, 2003)