Two Penn alumni to choose from for President? (Republished from PTN from 2011)

Tom Paine

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Members of the University of Pennsylvania community may have not just one, but possibly two alumni to choose from in the upcoming Presidential election cycle.

One is the famous (or infamous, depending on one's point of view) Donald Trump (Wharton '68), who may run as a Republican or Independent.

The other is Jon Huntsman Jr., who received a  bachelor's degree in International Politics from Penn in 1987. Huntsman is considered likely by many to enter the GOP race. Among other things, Hunstman has served as Governor of Utah and President Obama's Ambassador to China (until the end of this month when his resignation takes effect). His candidacy would face challenges, since he is not really well known among the general public and he faces criticism from Republicans for his association with Obama and a recently leaked letter in which Huntsman glowingly praised Obama.

His father, Jon Huntsman Sr., founder of chemical giant Huntsman Corporation and a major benefactor of Penn, received his degree from Wharton. It is he for whom Huntsman Hall, a building in which many of you have attended events, is named.

Which leads to the question: has a Penn graduate ever been President? Well no, actually, although one did attend Penn as a medical student: native Virginian William Henry Harrison, who enrolled there around 1790. Unfortunately, his father died, leaving him short on funds, and he is said to have not cared for medical studies much anyway, so he opted for the military life.

Harrison, however, lacked a certain amount of common sense and thus didn't fare too well as President. He gave a ridiculously long inauguration address on a bitter cold Washington day and died a few weeks later from pneumonia. Maybe he should have gotten that medical degree.