Why Walker Didn’t Graduate
Journal Sentinel adds more to story, but still leaves some mystery.
The idea that Scott Walker was “kicked out” of Marquette University for some dirty deed is an article of faith among many Democrats. As an earlier story for Urban Milwaukee noted, the story has been given credence by critics like Louis Weisberg, editor of the Wisconsin Gazette, who wrote that Walker “was thrown out of Marquette University for cheating,” but admitted to writer Cindy Kilkenny that he had no proof of this accusation.
Today’s story by Journal Sentinel reporter David Umhoefer quotes the state Democratic Party’s website, which claims that “Walker was kicked out of student elections at Marquette University after masterminding a scheme that destroyed newspapers critical of him…Walker either dropped out or was forced out not long after.” But Mike Tate was unable to provide any hard evidence to back up this claim.
Kilkenny quoted Marquette University Political Science Professor Emerita Janet K. Boles, who taught Walker in at least one of her classes, and said she believed “Walker did leave MU in good standing (with GPA well above the level that would bring academic probation/expulsion). A GPA of 2.59 is below-average for MU students (given grade inflation) but translates into a BC average.”
So why did he drop out of school? Umhoefer dug hard and his story is long, but mostly adds interesting background to the story. Walker comes off as an ambitious young man whose take-no-prisoners style help turn his campaign for Marquette student government president into an ugly affair, culminating in accusations that Walker’s supporters emptied racks of the student newspaper, which endorsed his opponent.
But if there was any investigation about this, it did not affect Walker’ standing as a student. Umhoefer requested a statement from Marquette University, which responded (with Walker’s consent, which is required by the university) to say the future governor “was a senior in good standing when he voluntarily withdrew from Marquette.”
That means no conduct issues, academic or otherwise, blocked Walker from continuing in school, MU spokesman Brian Dorrington told Umhoefer. School officials also said Walker “was not expelled or suspended from the university at any time.”
So why did Walker leave MU? You get the impression he was really bruised by the loss in the student government race. Moreover, he had so tarnished his reputation that he surely had no chance of ever winning a student government race. Psychologically, it might have been hard for him to remain at the scene of his defeat.
A second reason for dropping out is that he became involved in a campaign to defeat state Rep. Gwen Moore in the fall of 1990. Walker worked hard, knocking on 13,000 doors, Umhoefer writes, but was easily defeated in what was a heavily Democratic district. It may have been impossible to keep up with his classes and campaign, all the more so since he had begun a job with the local chapter of the American Red Cross in February, 1990.
The one thing Walker still refuses to release is his student transcript. Of course that would allow his opponents to pick over his grades and cast aspersions on his intellect, should there be any low marks. The transcript, moreover, would allow a computation of just how far away Walker was from attaining his major. If he had been working on three different majors, it’s quite possible he was far short of attaining any of them.
By 1993 Walker had been elected to the state assembly and was enjoying the political success he had been shooting for since high school. So why would he want to return, even on a part-time basis, to Marquette, the place where he had failed? You could call it a folly of youth, but it’s left a hole in Walker’s resume that may come back to haunt him in his expected bid for the presidency.