What Wharton Failed To Teach Trump

Wharton and Trump

Trump: ”I’d never heard the words ‘mugshot’ — they didn’t teach me that at the Wharton School of Finance’

After having his photo taken in Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail yesterday, the Wharton School’s most famous alum reflected on what he failed to learn as a business undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I came in, I was treated very nicely, but it is what it is,” Trump told Newsmax. “I took a mugshot, which I’d never heard the words ‘mugshot’ — they didn’t teach me that at the Wharton School of Finance.”

Trump made the remark after being booked on charges in a fourth indictment resulting from a lengthy investigation into efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. The former president spent less than 30 minutes in the building where he was given an inmate number, P01135809, and finger-printed. He was released on a $200,000 bond.


Trump transferred from Fordham University in New York to Wharton in Philadelphia as a junior and graduated from Wharton in 1968 when the school did not have a concentration in Legal Studies & Business Ethics. If the twice-impeached former President were to be convicted in this or any of the other three cases in which he has been indicted, Trump would not be the only Wharton alum to hold that dubious distinction. Rajiv Goel (Wharton MBA ‘83) was found guilty of insider trading in 2012 after assisting former classmate Raj Rajaratnam (Wharton MBA ‘83) with information. Second-year Wharton MBA student Ashik Desai, who oversaw sales and analytics at Outcome Health, pleaded guilty of wire fraud in a $1 billion fraud scheme. During his Presidency, Trump in 2020 pardoned fellow alumnus Michael Milken (Wharton MBA ‘79) after Milken had pleaded guilty to six felonies including tax violations and securities fraud.

Ever since he got his Wharton degree, Trump has claimed that his graduation from Wharton is evidence of his intellect. Trump asserted that he went to “the hardest school to get into, the best school in the world,” calling it “super genius stuff.” When a then-President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative economist Arthur Laffer, Trump claimed that he had studied the Laffer Curve for many years in the Wharton School of Finance, even though the economic concept was not created until 1974, six years after his graduation from the school.

After the January 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C., several Wharton professors — all of whom teach ethics — urged the university should revoke Trump’s undergraduate business degree if a probe could confirm a claim by his niece that he had paid someone to take the SAT exam on his behalf. “When a student gains admission by fraudulent means, it undermines the integrity of our academic standards and fairness of our admissions process,” the professors wrote in a letter to Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Concerns about cheating are exacerbated when the alleged perpetrator is a public figure in high office. Failing to investigate an allegation of fraud at such a level broadcasts to prospective students and the world at large that the playing field is not equal, that our degrees can be bought, and that subsequent fame, wealth, and political status will excuse past misconduct.”

The university declined to take action. “We certainly share your concerns about these allegations and the integrity of our admissions process,” wrote a Penn administrator. “However, as you suggest in your message, we have determined that this situation occurred too far in the past to make a useful or probative factual inquiry possible. If new evidence surfaces to substantiate the claim in the future, we will continue to be open to investigating it.”


To get into Wharton, Trump reportedly got an important assist from a close friend of his family, according to a former University of Pennsylvania admissions official. In an interview with The Washington Post, James Nolan acknowledged that in 1966 he had a phone call from Fred Trump Jr., Mary Trump’s father, asking him to help his younger brother Donald gain admission to Wharton.

Once admitted as a transfer student from Fordham University, the record shows that Trump was a less-than-stellar student who lied about being at the top of his class. In fact, not only was he not “first in his class,” he didn’t even make the dean’s list of the top 56 students in a class of 366 graduates.

Many of Trump’s peers in the Wharton Class of 1968 agree that he did not stand out academically, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, (see Trump Failed To Excel At Wharton). The newspaper quoted 1968 Wharton graduate Louis Calomaris who recalled that “Don … was loath to really study much.”


Calomaris said Trump would come to study groups unprepared and did not “seem to care about being prepared.” He added that Trump’s academic passivity likely stemmed from his passion for engaging directly in the real estate business.

“He spent all his weekends in New York because residential real estate is a weekend business,” Calomaris told the Pennsylvanian which noted that five of Trump’s other classmates confirmed the alum’s claims. “He was not an intellectual man, but that wasn’t what his goal was,” Calomaris added. “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.”

One of Trump’s marketing professors at Wharton, the late William Kelley, apparently thought little of his student. A close friend of the professor, Frank DiPrima, said that Kelley told him 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” “I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this — ‘Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had,’” DiPrima wrote. “Dr. Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity but long before he was considered a political figure. Dr. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told of this — that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.”

DON’T MISS: Why Wharton Should Take Back Trump’s Business Degree or To Help Get Him Into Wharton, Trump Allegedly Paid Someone To Take The SAT


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