John A. Paulson, the largest donor in the University’s history and the namesake of the School of Engineering Applied Sciences, wants to make America great again.
The hedge-fund billionaire and Business School graduate who made much of his fortune during the 2008 financial crisis serves as an economic adviser for Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.
A number of other Harvard alumni join Paulson on the committee of economic advisers: among them Wilbur L. Ross, a billionaire investor and Business School graduate, Peter K. Navarro, an economics professor with a Harvard Ph.D., and Anthony Scaramucci, a prominent financier and Law School graduate.
Paulson donated $400 million to the SEAS in 2015, marking the largest single gift Harvard has ever received and renaming the school. The year before, Harvard retitled the School of Public Health after Gerald L. Chan donated $350 million to endow the school.
Paulson joined the campaign in August and has helped Trump fundraise in New York. On Thursday, he will speak at an event at the Economic Club of New York alongside Trump, the featured guest.
Trump was not Paulson’s only choice for a Republican presidential candidate; he also donated to political action committees associated with Wisconsin Governor Scott K. Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website that compiles political donation records.
And according to multiple surveys and polls, most faculty and students at Harvard lean Democratic. Ninety-one percent of faculty, instructors, and researchers who made political contributions to then-presidential candidates in 2015 donated to Hillary R. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee. Meanwhile, four percent of seniors surveyed in the Class of 2016 indicated support for the Republican candidate, and six percent of surveyed members of the Class of 2020 said they support Trump.
Some major donors to the largely liberal University have also supported conservatives in this election cycle. Kenneth C. Griffin ’89, for example, who donated $150 million to the College’s financial aid office in 2014, has also given to a number of Republican candidates and conservative causes. He gave more than $5 million to Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s PAC in 2015 and 2016. Darlene Jordan, a Kennedy School graduate who also serves on Trump’s economic advising team, directs the nonprofit Gerald R. Jordan Foundation; she and her husband Gerald R. Jordan ’61 have donated millions of dollars to Harvard.
Griffin and Paulson did not respond to requests for comment.
—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.
—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.
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