Whether it’s his attacks on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, his stance on immigration or his daily media appearances from Trump Tower, everybody seems to be talking about Donald Trump.
That is, everyone but the Penn administration.
Trump could become the first Penn graduate elected to the country’s highest office. (William Henry Harrison studied medicine at Penn, but left after a short time). And although the 1968 Wharton graduate is the presumptive Republican nominee, consistently reminding voters he went to the Wharton School, higher-ups at Penn have kept quiet. President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price, Vice President for University Communications Stephen MacCarthy and spokespeople for Wharton have all declined to comment on any of The Daily Pennsylvanian’s questions about Trump — even about apolitical topics such as Trump’s past service to the University.
As has been reported by many news outlets, members of the Wharton faculty said they received an email from administrators asking them to refrain from talking to the press about Trump. While this hasn’t stopped professors from speaking out, it does highlight that the University is trying to avoid the Trump spotlight.
In an effort to establish a more detailed look at how “The Donald” has interacted with his alma mater over the years, the DP sifted through its newspaper archives and other Penn resources. Here’s a timeline of the relationship Trump has had with Penn as a student, as an alumnus and as a parent.
1966: After two years at Fordham University, Trump transfers to Penn to attend what was then known as The Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. It has been widely reported that Trump did not have anywhere near as much of a presence on campus as one would expect. : 1968 Wharton graduate Ted Sachs. Sachs said he knew Trump from one of his finance classes, though the two lost touch shortly after graduating.
“I liked him. I thought he was a really nice low-key guy,” Sachs said. “He was very self effacing — he never talked about himself.”
Sachs expressed his surprise several years later when he saw Trump emerge as a very public figure in the business world. But, in hindsight, he says it certainly makes sense.
“He sort of had a magnetism about himself. He knew where he was going — that was clear,” Sachs said. “Looking back, I had that sense: he knew something at that age that I didn’t.”
1968: Trump graduates from Wharton with a concentration in real estate. There are mixed reports on his academic standing. Some have reported that Trump graduated at the top of his class, while others have said he received no honors at all.
1983: The Wharton Real Estate Center (now the Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center) is established with Trump as one of the 100 founding members.
1984: Trump is named Wharton Entrepreneur of the Year and speaks on campus while accepting his award. He recalled his experiences as a Penn student and explained that he “always will” donate to Wharton.
1987: The University Board of Trustees appoints Trump to a three-year term on Wharton’s Board of Overseers. A few months later, a DP article was perhaps the first to ask why Trump — who loves to put his name on anything he touches — did not have his name anywhere at Penn. A spokesperson for the Development Office at the time told the DP that Trump had “not been a leading contributor” to the University. One administrator indicated that Trump had given over $10,000 to Penn, but would not disclose the exact amount. Still, the article quoted several administrators who openly questioned why the billionaire hadn’t provided more financial support and expressed hope that after joining Wharton’s Board of Overseers, he might be more inclined to make a more significant donation.
1990: Trump’s term on the Wharton Board of Overseers expires. Minutes from the Board of Trustees meetings that year do not indicate that he was reappointed.
1991: Trump’s photo is stolen from Wharton’s Hall of Fame that once stood in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. According to a report by the DP on the theft, “The portraits, selected by Wharton undergraduates and graduates, honor Wharton alumni who have benefited the community.” Among the few honored alongside Trump were Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jon Huntsman Sr. and Michael Milken. (Milken’s portrait had previously been stolen and replaced — and later removed by administrators in 1990 after he pleaded guilty to six felony charges.)
1993: In honor of their 25th reunion, Penn’s Class of 1968 endows the Class of ‘68 Reference Center at Van Pelt Library. A plaque hanging in the library recognizing 34 lead donors for the project does not include Trump’s name.
2000: Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s oldest son (now an executive vice president at The Trump Organization), graduates from Wharton with concentrations in marketing and real estate.
2003: The Class of 1968 again makes a donation to Van Pelt, this time to mark their 35th reunion. The plaque in the Class of 1968 Seminar Room recognizing the lead donors for this gift does include Trump.
2004: Ivanka Trump, Trump’s second-born (also an executive vice president at The Trump Organization), graduates from Wharton with a concentration in real estate.
2007: To celebrate Wharton’s 125th anniversary, Wharton Alumni Magazine names the school’s 125 most influential people, including Trump, who they called “The Best Known Brand Name in Real Estate.”
“It would be difficult to find a more ubiquitous public business figure of the late 20th and early 21st centuries than Donald Trump,” the magazine asserted. The profile on Trump, however, did not at all mention his relationship with the University beyond the fact that he graduated in 1968.
2014: Trump is one of the “leading alumni” honored by the Wharton Club of Washington, D.C., at the club’s annual Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner.
2015: After launching his campaign for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, Trump consistently mentions Wharton in speeches and interviews, putting the spotlight on Penn.
“I went to the Wharton School of Finance, the toughest place to get into. I was a great student,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd in August.
“I went to the Wharton School of Finance. I was an excellent student. I’m a smart person,” he said to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
When Trump brought up Wharton again to Chuck Todd in a later interview, Todd questioned why the candidate always needs to remind everyone about the school.
“They know it’s a great business school,” Trump answered.
2016: Current senior Tiffany Trump, Trump’s fourth child, will graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences. Trump will attend the graduation.
This article was last updated on May 13.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.