Sunday, September 13, 2009

10 Presidents, 16 Executives Without College Degrees

Yes, the title of this article is “10 Presidents, 10 CEOs Without College Degrees.” Please allow me a few moments to share a personal story and the reason I discovered these so-called “uneducated” Presidents and businessmen.

A few weeks ago I received an anonymous email from a person living in the United Kingdom, which I wrote about in the blog post titled, “You Speak As If You’re A King Or Dictator.” Even though my candidacy for Arizona Governor is young, I regularly receive “hate mail” on a weekly basis. I call it hate mail, because these messages never talk about issues affecting citizens, but rather my character.

Today, I received an email from a person that disclosed both his name and address. I was able to trace the I.P. address to Secaucus, NJ. For privacy reasons, I will not divulge the sender’s name or email address. But I will share the body of his message.

How can you lead Arizona when you don’t even have a legitimate academic degree? If you lack the self-discipline to obtain even an associate’s degree, quitting before you even finished, how do you expect us to believe that you’ll stay committed to your promises? Nobody gives a damn about an uneducated man’s opinion, Mr. Mitchell.

First and foremost, let me address the key details this person is attacking. I have a non-academic degree from the University of Sedona in Pastoral Counseling Psychology. I have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from this university and I am furthering my education in the same specialization, earning my Doctorate degree. The only reason I do not have my Doctorate degree at this time is because I work a full-time, 40-hour job, along with 3-4 hours per day on my election campaign.

Generally, most elected and appointed politicians and public officials do have academic degrees. When I researched which United States politicians did not have college degrees, I discovered a startling fact about 10 U.S. Presidents. The following list of Presidents are individuals that never attended or completed college:

  • George Washington, served as 1st President of the United States from 1789 to 1797
  • Andrew Jackson, served as 7th President of the United States from 1829 to 1837
  • Martin Van Buren, served as 8th President of the United States from 1837 to 1841
  • William Henry Harrison, served as 9th President of the United States in 1941*
  • Zachary Taylor, served as 12th President of the United States from 1849 to 1950*
  • Millard Fillmore, served as 13th President of the United States from 1850 to 1853
  • Abraham Lincoln, served as 16th President of the United States from 1861 to 1865*
  • Andrew Johnson, served as 17th President of the United States from 1865 to 1869
  • Grover Cleveland, served as 24th President of the United States from 1893 to 1897
  • Harry S. Truman, served as 33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953

Three of the most famous Presidents — ones with their own dollar bills commemorating their legacies — were educated men, but possessed no official college or university degree recognizing their intelligence**.  A number of these men served in the military, were Senators, judges, Vice Presidents, or publicly served their states and country.

A few months back, I read this BusinessWeek article, CEOs Without College Degrees, that notes the top 16 successful business executives that never completed college or earned a paper diploma.

Here is the list of 16 top business executives without college degrees:

  • Dennis Albaugh (Albaugh)
  • Paul Allen (Vulcan)
  • Richard Branson (Virgin Group)
  • Maverick Carter (LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding)
  • John Paul DeJoria (John Paul Mitchell Systems)
  • Michael Dell (Dell Computers)
  • Felix Dennis (Alpha Media Group)
  • Barry Diller (InterActiveCorp)
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft)
  • Mukesh “Micky” Jagtiani (Landmark International)
  • Dean Kamen (Segway)
  • David Oreck (Oreck)
  • Amancio Ortega Gaona (Inditex Group)
  • Phillip Ruffin (Treasure Island)
  • Alfred Taubman (Taubman Centers)
  • Ty Warner (Ty, Inc.)

These two lists prove that you can attain a successful life path without completing a higher education. Success for these men has come from their life choices and taking advantage of opportunities presented to them. By bringing these successful politicians and businessmen to light, it does not mean I am attempting to equate myself to these great men. I am far from their success and stature; I only desire to make a substantial difference in a person’s life.

The purpose of this entire article is to merely articulate a single point. I want to prove a fact that so-called “uneducated” men (as well as women) can create success and legacy from their lives. It’s not about a piece of paper, but about the life you live and the choices you make.


* – These Presidents died in the Oval Office serving their country as U.S. President.

** – George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln are the three Presidents referenced in this sentence.


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