Former President Donald Trump is facing renewed scrutiny over his relationship with the truth after making demonstrably false claims about his uncle’s tenure at MIT.
At a Nevada rally over the weekend, Trump asserted his uncle John Trump was “the longest serving professor, Doctor John Trump, in the history of MIT.”
He suggested they shared superior genes as part of a broadside against rival Nikki Haley’s attacks on his mental fitness.
However, a Newsweek report on Tuesday, January 30, says that MIT and historical records contradict Trump’s assertion.
While Professor Trump had an acclaimed multi-decade career at the university, he did not hold its record for longest-serving faculty member.
An MIT spokesperson confirmed to media outlets that Professor Trump first joined the school as a research associate in 1933 after earning his doctorate there.
He became an assistant professor in 1936 and a full professor from 1952 until retiring in 1973.
That means Professor Trump was an MIT professor in some capacity for around 49 years. However, the university states at least 10 professors have served 53 years or more. MIT did not disclose their names publicly.
Through online research, media outlets identified two academics with clearly longer tenures. Harold “Doc” Edgerton, developer of the electronic flash, was made full professor in 1928 and remained in that role for 62 years until he died in 1990.
Renowned mathematician Gilbert Strang was made assistant professor in 1962, associate professor in 1964, and full professor starting in 1970. Strang, still active at MIT, marked over 60 years at the school in 2023.
So while Professor Trump had an exceptionally long career at MIT, he falls short of being its longest-serving faculty member.
The falsehood joins a litany of other bogus claims Trump has made about his academic pedigree and IQ.
Previously, Trump said he used to discuss nuclear physics with his uncle, whom he described as a “brilliant scientist.” Professor Trump was mainly known, however, for his work on high-voltage engineering.
Critics accuse Trump of exaggerating tangential family connections to boost his own self-image. They say the latest unforced error reflects Trump’s shaky relationship with the truth.
With Trump potentially gearing up for another presidential run, fact-checkers are on high alert to challenge any false narratives he promotes on the trail.
Analysts say Trump’s continued struggle with accuracy remains a glaring political vulnerability, especially among the well-educated swing voters who could decide the 2024 race.