Elections
President Barack Obama acknowledges the applause before delivering the commence address at Barnard College, Monday, May 14, 2012, in New York. Standing with Obama are Debora L. Spar, right, President, Barnard College, and Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald, left, Chair of the board trustees of Barnard College. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Barack Obama acknowledges the applause before delivering the commence address at Barnard College, Monday, May 14, 2012, in New York. Standing with Obama are Debora L. Spar, right, President, Barnard College, and Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald, left, Chair of the board trustees of Barnard College. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)  

Wealthy Columbia Univ. donor: School told me Obama had 2.6 GPA

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The shroud over President Barack Obama’s college records — recently spotlighted by Donald Trump’s $5 million challenge — is prompting Americans to share what they’ve got, and The Daily Caller is getting its share of leads, including one story that the president scored a GPA of only 2.6 at Columbia University.

The 2.6 grade can’t be confirmed, is contradicted by some evidence, and it doesn’t say anything about the courses, professors and associations Obama was immersed in during his two-year stay in Columbia.

But the source is credible, and he’s contributing to the collective effort by Americans to find out more about their president — who is a champion of a greater role for himself and other government officials in Americans’ personal lives, social norms and career opportunities.

The source for the 2.6 number is a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a Columbia alumnus who maintains good ties with the university.

In 2004, after Obama’s successful speech at that year’s Democratic convention, a Columbia University official told him Barack Obama’s GPA, he explained to TheDC.

“This person told me that he [Obama] was a pre-law, poli-sci major, had a lot of incompletes, and as best could be determined after sorting through the incompletes, had a GPA of 2.6,” said the businessman, a former Marine Corps combat veteran.

The source asked not to be named, but TheDC has verified at least one $2,500 contribution he made to Columbia.

The claim matches some of the other reports about Columbia’s arrivals in 1981, and some of Obama’s comments about his college career, including his 1981 transfer from Occidental College to Columbia.

Obama told author David Maraniss that he earned a B+ GPA in two years at Occidental.

But it also clashes with other evidence, including Obama’s observable smarts, and his claim to Maraniss that he earned a GPA of 3.7 at the Ivy League school.

Public and media interest in presidents’ college records isn’t new.

The New Yorker published Bush’s transcripts a year before he was elected president, amid approval from many Washington, D.C. political reporters and partisan advocates.

On Oct. 24, real estate mogul Donald Trump highlighted the widespread interest in the president’s exotic and obscured past by offering to donate $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice if he releases his academic transcripts and passport records.

Americans “will know something about their president [and] their president will become transparent, like other presidents,” Trump said, prompting derision from many in the media establishment.

Other groups and individuals are digging for the same materials, which they hope will help shape the public’s understanding of the president’s priorities.

On Sept. 19 a group of federalists used their website, The Trenches, to offer a $35,000 reward for Obama’s transcripts from Occidental College, Columbia or Harvard.