University prez personally tried to 'stop' Trump, Jr. speech

Nikita Vladimirov
Investigative Reporter

  • The president of the University of North Texas personally attempted to derail a scheduled talk by Donald Trump, Jr., according to emails sent to faculty members who raised objections to the privately-sponsored speech.
  • “I am trying to stop it, but it isn’t an easy thing,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said in one email, adding in another message that “untangling this donor advised talk is more difficult than I expected.”
  • The president of the University of North Texas personally attempted to derail a scheduled talk by Donald Trump, Jr. months prior to his scheduled appearance in late October.

    According to emails obtained by The Dallas Morning News, UNT President Neal Smatresk admitted that he was “trying to stop” the $100,000 speech from ever taking place on campus, saying he was “not enthused” about the invitation but had little recourse available because the event is being funded by private donors.

    "I'm trying to stop it, but it isn't an easy thing ... Untangling this...is more difficult than I expected."   

    [RELATED: Faculty members express 'dismay' over Trump, Jr. invitation]

    “I am trying to stop it, but it isn’t an easy thing,” Smatresk wrote in an August email to a concerned professor, later adding in another note that “untangling this donor advised talk is more difficult than I expected.”

    The slated event is part of a scholarship fundraising series that has earned between $18,000 and $235,000 in previous years, the publication reported. Last month's estimate suggested that the the series would earn somewhere around $13,000 this year, depending on the outcome of the ongoing fundraiser.

    Documents obtained by the publication reveal that the school sent a formal invite to Trump, Jr. on March 14, marketing the upcoming event as an exclusive talk with attendance limited to “lifetime members, sponsors, and select guests.”

    In a statement provided to Campus Reform, Smatresk argued that while it is “part of our educational mission to present speakers having various viewpoints and beliefs, it isn’t surprising that some members of our faculty have strong opinions about the selection of this speaker and chose to express their viewpoints.”

    Smatresk did not, however, address either his own role in the email exchanges or his professed efforts to cancel the event.

    [RELATED: Trump, Jr. defends Miss. flag as DNC, colleges remove it]

    In late September, close to 100 faculty members raised objection to the planned event in an open letter to the UNT Board of Regents, calling for the school to rescind the invitation to President Trump’s son.

    “We the undersigned UNT faculty write to profess our profound shock, dismay, and embarrassment that the university we are so proud to serve would stoop to invite Donald Trump Jr. to speak in North Texas under UNT’s auspices,” the open letter read.

    “We call on the UNT Board of Regents to rescind UNT’s invitation to Mr. Trump and to suspend the Kuehne Speaker Series until UNT administrators can devise a shared-governance process that will bring more of UNT's stakeholders—including UNT administrators, faculty, staff, and students—together to select speakers,” it added.

    A UNT spokesperson told Campus Reform that the school “is proud of the Kuehne Speaker Series and the quality of speakers it features,” adding that the project “has raised $1.65 million in funds that help to support student scholarships.”

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    Nikita Vladimirov

    Nikita Vladimirov

    Investigative Reporter
    Nikita Vladimirov is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he wrote for The Hill, where he extensively covered the latest political developments in U.S. and around the world. Vladimirov's work has appeared on the front pages of The Drudge Report and The Hill, and has been featured by several media organizations including Fox News, MSN, Real Clear Politics and others. He has also appeared as a political commentator on numerous programs, including BBC radio.
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