Meeting #2: Educational Background

Members of the Hiring Committee,

We have made our introductions and will now begin our consideration of the candidate, Mr. Trump, with a discussion of his educational background.

After two years attending Fordham College in New York, the candidate transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he received a degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business. While the candidate did not graduate with any noteworthy honors, he repeatedly commented upon the prestigious nature of a Wharton business degree during his interviews. On his resume, the Committee noticed an allusion to his having graduated at the top of his class.

In an effort to gain a better understanding of Mr. Trump’s standing in his class and his relationships with his classmates, the Committee contacted references from the Wharton School to share their insights. It soon became clear that the candidate had, in fact, graduated with no honors and had also remained relatively unknown to his peers. One reference from the Wharton School — a former classmate — recalled, “[h]e was not in any kind of leadership. I certainly doubt he was the smartest guy in the class,” while another peer relayed, “[f]our years — including lots of required classes — is a long time never to hear of a classmate, especially with such a distinctive name.” Although they do not take away from the candidate’s scholastic accomplishments, these comments do deviate from the narrative provided to the Committee by Mr. Trump.

To further assist the Committee’s inquiry, additional representatives of the candidate’s alma mater were asked to offer information about his relations with the school. The Committee was concerned when it discovered that a cohort of current and former Wharton School of Business students, three thousand six hundred and ninety-four to be exact, had signed an open letter stating their opposition to Mr. Trump leveraging his Wharton education in his pursuit of this position. Some of their specific concerns reveal potentially troubling information about Mr. Trump’s personal conduct, namely that he has frequently been known to make inappropriate comments in both social and workplace environments. These members of the Wharton community related the following in their letter:

We, the undersigned Wharton students, alumni, and faculty, unequivocally reject the use of [Mr. Trump’s] education at Wharton as a platform for promoting prejudice and intolerance. [Mr. Trump’s] discriminatory statements are incompatible with the values that we are taught and we teach at Wharton, and we express our unwavering commitment to an open and inclusive American society.

These comments from members of his alma mater raise meaningful concerns. The Committee typically expects a candidate’s alma mater to provide a valuable support network, but Mr. Trump seems to have alienated a substantial portion of his fellow alumni.

The candidate’s resume also stated that he had experience as an educator, having previously started his own educational establishment, Trump University. Upon its initial review, the Committee learned that Trump University was, in fact, a for-profit institution that sold expensive real estate investment classes. These classes appear to have been sold using high-pressure, potentially manipulative sales techniques, as outlined in an internal document the Committee obtained:

Trump University Internal Document

Mr. Trump is currently facing numerous lawsuits related to this endeavor, as former students and staff have alleged fraud on the part of Trump University. The lawsuits assert that Trump University staff promised potential students that Mr. Trump would be actively involved in their education, encouraged current students to max out as many credit cards as they could to pay for additional classes, and led them to believe that they could earn quick profits off of downturns in the housing market. If true, these claims demonstrate a cynical disregard for the concept of higher learning.

In summary, the Committee recognizes that the candidate has a solid educational background; however, the candidate’s strained relationship with his alma mater diminishes the value of the Wharton School’s prestige. The Committee is concerned by Mr. Trump’s foray into for-profit education, and will actively monitor the outcome of the ongoing litigation it has given rise to.

We will continue our consideration of the candidate next week when we look into his professional background.

This meeting is formally opened for discussion until we reconvene next Tuesday.