A Famous Wharton Alumnus

Famous Wharton Alum, Trump and Wharton, Wharton Alumni

Donald Trump is a graduate of Wharton. And he’s certainly mentioned it quite a bit on the campaign trail (photo credit: Michael Vadon).

It’s been interesting to witness how leading Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has dropped that he attended Wharton many times throughout his campaign for the nomination. And while Mr. Trump is, arguably, Wharton’s most famous alum, it comes as no surprise that the school has stayed relatively silent about their former student’s bid for the White House. Wharton, of course, wants no association with some of the things that come out of the real estate mogul’s mouth.

As a “CNBC” piece by Daniel Libit on Wharton’s ties with Trump points out, “And so it is that Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania’s renowned business school, has been sucked up into the quixotic cyclone of Trump’s campaign, which has brought it an unprecedented amount of publicity from a most unusual (and unofficial) representative. Surely, Trump’s swaggering style diverges from Penn’s historically more stolid way of self-promotion: Its mascot, after all, is a Quaker.” We’d sure agree. Indeed an informal survey conducted by “CNBC” of Wharton professors indicated that the group was largely split about whether or not Wharton’s exposure through Trump’s candidacy, well, trumps any association with some of his not-politically correct rhetoric.

Do you think Donald Trump’s candidacy is good or bad for Wharton? We’re curious to hear from our readers with their thoughts on the matter. We’re of the opinion that most administrators at Wharton secretly love it when their brand name is regularly dropped on every major news channel during this election cycle. A few administrators might cringe, but we suspect most like the attention. In fact, we’re quite sure of it.


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1 Comment

  • C'01 WG'10 says:

    What I really make of all this situation is that Penn has never really known how to brand itself and as result lags in international name recognition compared to other peer schools (and many schools of lesser quality).

    Here you see that the Wharton name gets amazing exposure while the Penn name gets none. In my opinion this is such a branding error that hurts both Penn as a whole but also Wharton. Penn has failed to create a unique brand name that appears in all of its individual schools. In fact its two most prominent/high ranked schools, the business school and the medical school, are officially branded in a way that the Penn name is not part of the brand. The Wharton School and The Perelman School of Medicine.

    Contrary to that, schools like Harvard, MIT, Yale, Columbia make sure the name of the parent institution appears in the official brand name of each of their individual schools. Even in cases where the school is named after a specific person, the parent school name always precedes it in the official brand name (examples: MIT Sloan or Harvard Kennedy School). Cohesive branding has helped a business school like the Yale School of Management make tremendous progress by leveraging the international brand value the Yale name has. If Mr. Trump had gotten his degree at YSM or HBS or CBS, the Yale or Harvard or Columbia names would be plastered across the media and the entire institutions would benefit from the great visibility of their brands.

    This lack of cohesive branding has not just hurt Penn overall but also Wharton specifically. Wharton nowadays is widely considered 3rd in the world of business schools, well below HBS and Stanford, simply because the Wharton brand does not have the same rep/clout outside finance/business circles and internationally as the Stanford/Harvard brands have. In fact there are many international MBA applicants that even choose MIT Sloan or Columbia Business School over Wharton simply because the MIT/Columbia brands have wider international recognition.

    I believe renaming Wharton to The Penn Wharton School, would be a very wise move for Penn as a whole and Wharton itself. Penn should have far greater brand equity given the actual value of its individual schools, and it doesn’t have it simply due to the mismanagement of the school brand.

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