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.”
“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 Medium.com and as of Monday morning carried the signatures of about 2,000 Wharton students, alumni, faculty members and other supporters.
For Mr. Trump, a 1968 graduate who saw some of his children later follow him to the school, Wharton has long held a special significance to him as the educational beginnings of his career in real estate. And it’s a credential that he has used to promote his intelligence, often remarking about how only the best students are accepted.
A year ago, in the early stages of his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump plugged his education at Wharton to distinguish himself as the astute businessman in the crowded Republican field.
“I’m really smart,” he said during a speech in Phoenix. “Went to the Wharton School of Finance. Even then, a long time ago, like the hardest, or one of the hardest, schools to get into.”
In the letter to Mr. Trump, the Wharton supporters said they “can understand why, in seeking America’s highest office, you have used your degree from Wharton to promote and lend legitimacy to your candidacy.”
The letter said that his presidential campaign afforded him the opportunity “to make the Wharton community even prouder of our school and values.”
But the letter asserted that Mr. Trump had squandered that chance by promoting intolerance toward a number of groups, contrary to the values of the diverse Wharton community. “We represent the groups that you have repeatedly denigrated, as well as their steadfast friends, family and allies,” the letter said.
The letter closed with a wholesale rejection of Mr. Trump’s use of his “education at Wharton as a platform for promoting prejudice and intolerance.”