Let me begin with a story. Thirty years ago, I was for a time the head [unpaid] of an anti-apartheid organization called Harvard/Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid, or HRAAA. We were trying, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to get Harvard to divest itself of its investments in companies doing business with South Africa. Since every share of stock sold is also bought by some other investor, divestment has no material impact [unlike disinvestment] but we hoped the symbolism would make some contribution to the world-wide fight against apartheid. The Harvard administration was having none of it, of course. They did not want anyone laying grubby hands on their most precious possession, their Endowment. But the Harvard Development Office was [and I assume still is] a large bureaucratic operation, and somewhere in its bowels was a sympathetic flunky, who, one dark night, hit the “print” key and produced a complete many page list of all Harvard’s prime alumni donor prospects, which he or she [I never found out] passed on to those of us in HRAAA. The document listed the hundreds of prospects not in alphabetical order, but in descending order of what Harvard thought it could get lifetime from them. The list cut off at $250,000 [$546,000 in 2018 dollars]. Anything less wasn’t worth worrying about. There were some gems in the printout. Maestro Leonard Bernstein was down for $500,000, but a note warned “will only talk to the president.” But the printout, delicious as it was, didn’t help us any, and in the end we failed to budge Harvard.
All of which got me thinking. Donald Trump started his college career at Fordham in 1966, transferring to the Wharton School undergraduate program in 1966 and graduating in 1968. His grades and personnel file, including the transfer application, are of course private, and the University of Pennsylvania, home to the Wharton School, will quite properly keep them strictly secret. But surely, somewhere in the UPenn bureaucracy, there must be some low-level file clerk or computer programmer ….