The most popular Ivy League institution among the Biden and Trump White Houses is Harvard University. Thirty-five Biden aides, or 17% of total staff, have Harvard degrees – including Chief of Staff Ron Klain and lawyer Dana Remus. Nineteen Trump’s White House staff, or 11%, of which Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, graduated from Harvard.
Biden’s next aide is Yale, which has 29 White House graduates, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, National Economic Council director Brian Deese and National Security Council chief of staff Yohannes Abraham. Only 10 assistants in Trump’s first year in the White House boasted of Yale degrees.
The least popular Ivy League school for the White House Biden is Brown, who has only two alumni on staff. But for Trump, that honor went to Columbia, which had no graduates among the positions counted in POLITICO’s analysis.
Biden hasn’t talked much about Ivy League degrees, but said in February he didn’t support canceling student debt up to $ 50,000 because such relief would help Ivy Leaguers.
“The idea that … I’m going to forgive the debt, the billions of dollars in debt, for the people who went to Harvard and Yale and Penn,” he said without finishing the sentence.
Trump has often bragged about allies and aides who attended Ivy League schools and also spoke about his own education in Wharton, and Penn’s student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian once reported that he had publicly referred to his presence at Wharton 93 times from May 2015 to January 2018.
Biden’s White House is also relatively rich in advanced credentials: 78% of Biden’s aides have graduate degrees – defined as a master’s, law degree, or doctorate. – against only 57% of Trump’s aides.
Direct comparisons of specific positions also reveal a contrast in the recruitment approaches between the two White Houses.
For example, Ashley Williams, deputy director of Oval Office operations for Biden, went to Georgetown University, earned a master’s degree from George Washington University, and then a law degree from Penn.
However, many of Trump’s closest operational assistants were hired for their close and trusting relationship with the boss. Former Trump corpsman John McEntee, who in practice had many responsibilities now handled by Williams, was a star quarterback at the University of Connecticut. Keith Schiller, who served as Oval Office Operations Manager during Trump’s first year as President, graduated from New Paltz High School in New York State before joining the United States Navy and serving as a policeman – he does not appear to have attended college.
Other eye-catching comparisons include Bruce Reed, Biden’s deputy chief of staff, who attended Princeton University and earned a master’s degree from Oxford, versus Trump’s Joe Hagin, who attended Kenyon College, and Rick Dearborn. , who went to the University of Oklahoma. .
Then there are the elites of the elites: the assistants who hold three degrees exclusively from the schools of the Ivy League or Oxford and Cambridge.
Seven Biden White House staff – including Sullivan, Deputy Senior National Security Advisor Jon Finer, and National Security Council Legal Advisor Jonathan Cedarbaum – fall into this category. Five assistants, including former personal secretary Rob Porter, carried those credentials to Trump’s White House.
“President Biden understands better than most occupants of the Oval Office that the name of the institution on your degree matters a lot less than the intelligence, courage and work ethic you bring to your job,” said White House spokesman Mike Gwin. “He and the vice president are the first couple to serve in nearly half a century and not have Ivy League degrees, and they have worked aggressively to fulfill a historic commitment to make in so that their administration resembles America and reflects its diversity – in experience, background and education. ”
Another White House official added that they have a robust interview process in place to minimize bias and track diversity throughout the hiring process. More than half of the 1,400 people initially named by Biden are women and more than half are people of color, according to the official. One-third are first-generation Americans or children of immigrants, and 16% are first-generation college graduates.
The official said the White House does not pay attention to where people go to school, but instead focuses on personality, form, alignment with values and intellectual humility in its endeavors. to build the most diverse administration ever. The official noted that especially among cabinet members of color, few went to Ivies.