Scottish academics, locals protest honorary university degree for tycoon Donald Trump

By Ben Mcconville, AP
Friday, October 8, 2010

Scots protest Donald Trump honorary degree

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Donald Trump is to receive an honorary degree in business from a Scottish university on Friday despite protests from local residents who say his massive 750-million-pound ($1.2-billion) golf resort could force them out of their homes.

Critics at Robert Gordon University of Aberdeen argue that the U.S. reality star and property tycoon doesn’t deserve the degree, but the university counters that students have much to learn from his business savvy.

Trump himself sounded upbeat about the award, telling reporters: “It’s a great university, it’s a great honor and a great place.”

Local home owners claim Trump wants to force them to make room for his luxury resort, which features a five-star hotel, more than 1,000 homes and two golf courses and is expected to open in the summer of 2012.

David Kennedy, a former head of the university, argued that Trump ignored the local planning committee to build the golf resort near the residential Menie Estate north of Aberdeen.

“That is not the work of an honorable businessman,” he said.

“The university should be bestowing honorary degrees to people who are honorable, respected for their contribution to society and most importantly a role model for the students. Donald Trump is none of these,” he said.

Tripping Up Trump, the protest group opposing the development, collected an online petition with 6,500 signatures against the honorary degree in four days. Local resident Susan Munro presented the petition to the university on Wednesday.

“If I had one thing to say to Mr. Trump it would be ‘go home,’” said the 57-year-old. “As for Robert Gordon University, it is all about the money, they are just after Mr. Trump’s money.”

Trump flew into Scotland after indicating he might run for president against Barack Obama. Trump walked the back nine holes of the golf course on Wednesday and said the first players would tee off in June or July 2012.

John Harper, Acting Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, said Trump is recognized as one of the world’s top businessmen and students have much to learn from his acumen, drive and focus.

“Given that business and entrepreneurship lie at the heart of much of the university’s academic offering, it is only fitting to award Mr. Trump with an honorary degree,” he said in a statement.

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