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May 24, 2005

Trump U, Too

Fenster Moop writes:

Dear Blowhards,

It's not enough that he's rich, famous, obnoxious and all over the media, including a hit series and a biopic. In his neverending quest for something, The Donald has now opened his own university.

In case there was any doubt, it's called Trump University.

What would you think if I told you the following was from the Presidential Message section of his website?:

"We are a new institution, and yet our mission, to advance new ideas and promote enduring knowledge, will keep the University young. We strive to create an academic environment in which outstanding students and scholars from around the world are continually challenged and inspired to do their best possible work. I am pleased to welcome you here. I hope that you will find your stay both enlightening and enjoyable."

You'd probably say that doesn't sound like Trump. And you'd be right. That quote was cribbed, and slightly edited, from Larry Summers' Presidential Message on the Harvard site.

When you visit Trump, here's Trumps' first presidential communication, in the form of a blog posting:

My greatest respect is for people who have experienced adversity and then come back. I was one of those people, in the early nineties. I went through a tough period and learned a lot about myself, and then came back bigger and better and stronger. It wasnít unlike what happened to Frank Sinatra in the early fifties. Like me, he lost focus. He took his eye off the ball and he made some bad decisions. (Also like me, it was the fairer sex that had a little something to do with his troubles, but thatís another story for another time.)

Thereís a wonderful story in Sammy Davis, Jr.ís Yes I Can, where Sammy, whoís on the way up (due in no small part to Sinatraís patronage), sees Frank walking down Broadway all by himself, looking utterly dejected. At the time, Frank was on the skids, having gone from being the biggest singer ever known to a laughingstock, reduced to singing novelty songs.

Itís a familiar scenario to me, because one night at 3am, when I was more than $9 billion in debt, I was summoned to Citibank for a conference call with a bevy of international bankers to whom I owed money. It was pouring rain and I couldnít get a cab, so I had to walk to the bank, 15 blocks from Trump Tower. By the time I got there I was soaked. I felt then like I had reached my lowest point. But we worked things out, and the rest, as they say is history. They also say itís darkest before the dawn. You know what I say: Never ever give up.

Posted by Donald Trump on 2005-05-13

The Trump ego and the academy make for an odd match, no doubt. Over at University Diaries, UD seems to find the whole thing amusing, but is somewhat less apoplectic than I would have thought, given that she tilts heavily toward the purist view regarding higher education.

Me, I find Trump U. amusing, too. However, I haven't come to the conclusion that for-profits are inherently evil. I am pleased with my liberal arts education, and doubt whether Trump or other for-profits will in the forseeable future create a business model that emphasizes critical thinking. Much of higher education in this day and age leans heavily toward the training side. Training models and critical-thinkimg models can and do co-exist currently in the non-profit arena.

But it can be an uneasy co-existence. If for-profits want to pull away the training piece, give it a shot. Trump himself may have to try harder, though: his site seems less a venue for training in an organized way and more a venue for selling packaged goods.



posted by Fenster at May 24, 2005


It seems so goofy, yet I kinda love the goofiness: Trump U. Maybe there's a Sammy Davis Jr. endowed chair of something or other. A Department of How-to-Date-Models. Advanced degrees offered in Conning the Press.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 24, 2005 2:49 PM

And Trump's head "academic" advisor is Roger Schank, whose lab once tried to solve the problems of artificial intelligence by designing a computer program to be a perfect mimic of Cyrus Vance. (Seriously. They designed a mechanical version of the mind of Jimmy Carter's secretary of state.)
Maybe we'll get an army of robot Trumps.

Posted by: Dominic Murphy on May 24, 2005 3:11 PM

Considering the less-than-stellar track record of proprietary schools, Trump U. may well turn out to be another one of The Donald's failed ventures.

Posted by: Peter on May 24, 2005 3:52 PM

The massive and increasing expense of university education, coupled with its declining quality, political correctness and all the rest means more and more dissatisfied and angry customers and would-be customers and won't-be customers. Trump is one of many people who has sniffed out the fact that a major component of our economy is in a state of abject failure. The entire over-priced, monopolistic, smug, intellectually uniform educational establishment in this country from K-12 to post doc is in its late-Brezhnevite phase of corruption, senility and decay. Trump is getting in early, as an experiment, to feel things out, and to exploit opportunities as they arise. A possibly prescient move. Trump's ventures is one tiny tremble preceding the temblors to come. And I say, let it fall, good riddance, and not a minute too soon.

Posted by: Lexington Green on May 24, 2005 5:20 PM

Lexington: Might I give a hearty A-frigging-MEN? I think the notion of a non-profit education system is downright medieval, and hopefully hasn't got long to last.

"Three outstanding attitudes - obliviousness to the growing dissaffection of constituents, primacy of self-aggrandizement, illusion of invulnerable status - are persistent aspects of folly."

Barbara Tuchman said that.

I'm glad I'm young enough to be able to enjoy watching the collapse of the media, followed by the collapse of the academy. Mad follies both!

Posted by: Brian on May 25, 2005 1:09 AM

I think if Trump offers a major in How-to-Date-Models, he will have the entire Big Ten current enrollment in about six months! Donald sells 'em what they want!

It cracks me up that the Donald actually thinks that having to WALK from his palatial suite at Trump Tower 15 blocks to the Board Room at Citibank is "as low as it can get." Apparently, the Donald was never a POW in Vietnam. One prerequisite for How To Date A Model: Make sure they are as utterly vacuous as you, so they don't notice your rather unfortunate lack of human compassion and character. Of course, it means you too will be with someone with an utter lack of compassion and character. Oh well. She's got nice legs. Can't we hire someone with that--what's it called?--character?

Posted by: annette on May 25, 2005 8:52 AM

Liberal Arts colleges may not be "for-prfit" but they are definitely "for-positive-revenue". For example, Harvard is one of the most Cash Rich organizations in the world. And their (tenured) employees are paid very well. And this goes for the other prominent Liberal Arts colleges as well.

There is no doubt that these elite colleges LOVE making money, they just HATE to call them "profits".

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 25, 2005 9:37 AM

Nice legs make up for a lot.

Posted by: ricpic on May 25, 2005 11:13 AM

Mr. Trump---meet your first student!

Posted by: annette on May 25, 2005 12:05 PM

Whole course could be summarised in one sentence: "Nice legs hike to mountains of money." Compassion-shmapassion.

There is no doubt that these elite colleges LOVE making money, they just HATE to call them "profits"
I suspect it's a question of tax exemption....

Posted by: Tatyana on May 25, 2005 2:14 PM

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