Contrary to some media reports, Rand Paul has no bachelor's degree

Rand Paul, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate
Rand Paul, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

FRANKFORT — Rand Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Kentucky, holds a medical degree from Duke University but never received a bachelor's degree from Baylor University, contrary to several media reports in recent months.

Baylor officials confirmed this week that Paul was a student there from fall 1981 to summer 1984 but never obtained a degree. Instead, he left early when Duke accepted him in its School of Medicine.

Doug Stafford, a consultant for Paul's Senate campaign, said Wednesday that Paul has never said he holds a degree from Baylor, only that he attended Baylor in Waco, Texas. Multiple media outlets, including the Lexington Herald-Leader, made an incorrect assumption, he said.

"I guess many people and some in the media have assumed Dr. Paul had a bachelor's degree, but he has never said that," Stafford said.

Other media organizations that have reported Paul graduated from Baylor include The Associated Press, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Time and U.S. News & World Report.

Stafford said Paul and his campaign have not asked publications to run corrections because the campaign was not aware of the erroneous claim, which can be found on several Web sites, including Wikipedia, WhoRunsGov.com and Project Vote Smart.

"To my knowledge, we've never noticed it," Stafford said. "I hope this story sets the record straight."

Adelaide Kimball, a senior advisor with Project Vote Smart, said Paul has not responded to the organization's questionnaire about his political positions. The biographical information did not come from him directly, Kimball said.

However, researchers with the organization would have taken information about his education from a Paul Web site, such as his campaign site or Facebook, Kimball said.

Paul's official campaign Web site, Randpaul2010.com, on Wednesday said Paul "attended Baylor University" and "graduated from Duke Medical School in 1988."

A MySpace page — www.myspace.com/ronpaul_2008president_ — contains a blurb attributed to Rand Paul that says he is "an alumni of Baylor University and Duke School of Medicine."

The MySpace page appears to have previously focused on a presidential bid by Paul's father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, but is now focused on Rand Paul's U.S. Senate bid.

Stafford maintained that such information never came from Rand Paul.

Paul was in the honors program at Baylor and scored about the 90th percentile on the national Medical College Admission Test, Stafford said. He could not immediately provide documentation to support that claim.

Michael J. Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs for Duke University in Durham, N.C., said his school's records show Paul received his medical degree from Duke in 1988 and completed his residency there in 1993.

"At the time he was admitted to our medical school, Duke sometimes did admit students of exceptional abilities. Other professional schools have done that," said Schoenfeld, noting that Duke now requires its medical students to have bachelor's degrees.

He did not know when Duke changed its policy.

Ron Paul was a member of Congress when his son was at Baylor and was accepted to Duke. The elder Paul also is a graduate of Duke's medical school.

Stafford said Paul's famous father played no role in the son's admission to Duke.

"I don't think medical schools such as Duke are influenced by an applicant's legacy," he said. "The student has to have the grades, and Rand Paul did."

It's the norm today for most medical schools to require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, but exceptions are made, said Henry Sondheimer, senior director of student affairs and programs with the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C.

More medical schools in the 1970s and 1980s admitted students without bachelor's degrees, he said, but he was not able to immediately provide specific numbers. The association represents 113 accredited medical schools in the United States and 17 in Canada.