Texas University Head Wants to Stop Donald Trump Jr. Speech - Higher Education
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Texas University Head Wants to Stop Donald Trump Jr. Speech

by Associated Press

DALLAS — The president of a Texas university wrote in an email to a professor that he is trying to prevent Donald Trump Jr. from giving a speech later this month at an event arranged by major donors to the school.

University of North Texas President Neal Smatresk wrote in August that he was “trying to stop” Trump’s Oct. 24 talk to business executives, Republican leaders and others.

“Untangling this donor advised talk is more difficult than I expected,” he wrote in another email that was among more than a thousand pages of communications obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

Trump, the eldest son of Republican President Donald Trump, is under federal investigation for a June 2016 meeting with Russians who claimed to have information damaging to the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. will receive a $100,000 speaking fee that’s being paid by a tax advisory firm owned by Brint Ryan, according to the university, which is in Denton, north of Dallas-Fort Worth.

Ryan is head of the school’s board of regents and the newspaper reports that he used political and business connections to land Trump, a real estate executive, as a speaker. Ryan has given to the Republican campaigns of Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, among others.

Ryan did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Smatresk declined to discuss his correspondence with faculty members. But in a statement he acknowledged the emails and noted the opposition by faculty to Trump’s talk.

“It isn’t surprising that some members of our faculty have strong opinions about the selection of this speaker and have chosen to express their viewpoints,” he said, adding that money raised from the event and other appearances by notable figures goes toward student scholarships.

More than 80 faculty members last month signed a letter opposing the speech. They said offering the invitation to Trump shows disrespect to women, people of color and the LGBT community. The letter also mentioned the federal investigation.

In addition to the $100,000 payment to Trump Jr., the university will pay $125,000 to hold the gathering at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The school will also cover his security and up to $5,000 in travel expenses.

Trump’s contract stipulates that any questions following the speech be provided in advance.

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