Joe Biden soon will begin working for both the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware, heading a new center and institute that will address foreign policy, the environment, women's rights and other issues important to the former vice president.
Both appointments are in addition to a new foundation that Biden and his wife, Jill, recently started to work on a variety of issues they championed during his vice presidency, including foreign policy, cancer research, community colleges and military families, the protection of children, equality, the ending of violence against women, and the strengthening of the middle class.
How much time he will spend on each campus is still to be determined.
“He hasn't worked out a defined schedule for each campus yet, but his time will likely amount to about one day a week at each school with some ebb and flow depending on the work," said his spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield.
He is not scheduled to teach classes, she said.
Both universities on Tuesday released separate news releases with a few more details on Biden’s appointments.
At Penn, he will lead a new center on diplomacy, foreign policy and national security, which will be based in Washington and will open later this year.
Biden also will have an office at Penn, the university said. He will carry the title of Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor and will hold joint appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, and also an affiliation with the Wharton School. The new center will carry his name.
“The Penn Biden Center and I will be engaging with Penn’s wonderful students while partnering with its eminent faculty and global centers to convene world leaders, develop and advance smart policy, and impact the national debate about how America can continue to lead in the 21st century,” Biden said in Penn’s news release.
Biden’s new relationship with Penn was first reported by Politico in December. Last month, Biden confirmed during a swearing-in ceremony for the Senate that he would have a role related to foreign policy . But until Tuesday, both Biden’s office and Penn had remained mum on details.
At Delaware, his alma mater, Biden will chair a new institute focused “on developing public policy solutions on issues ranging from economic reform and environmental sustainability to civil rights, criminal justice, women’s rights and more,” the university said.
The presidents of both Penn and Delaware underscored the importance of bringing such a prominent former leader, who has earned the respect of both major political parties, to their campuses.
“Joe Biden is one of the greatest statesmen of our times,” said Penn president Amy Gutmann. “In his distinguished career of service to our nation, he has demonstrated a unique capacity to bring people together across divides and to craft constructive responses to some of the toughest and most important policy challenges of our day.”
Before becoming vice president, Biden was a Delaware senator for 36 years and had served as chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years. As vice president, he was involved in shaping policy toward Iraq and supporting a democratic Ukraine. He has also been in the forefront of fighting against sexual assault and domestic violence, and appointed the first White House adviser on violence against women.
Biden has led the nation’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative to cure cancer, which was launched at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center last year. Last month, then-President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Gutmann said he will help Penn further its global initiatives, including working with the university’s Perry World House.
Biden has had a long relationship with Penn. His son Beau (now deceased), daughter Ashley, and granddaughter Naomi are all Penn graduates. In May 2013, he was the university’s commencement speaker.
His connection to the University of Delaware, where he got his bachelor’s in 1965, goes back even longer. He has spoken at four university commencements, in 1978, 1987, 2004 and 2014, and last December spoke at the inauguration of university president Dennis Assanis. He donated his senatorial papers to the university’s library in 2011, and his wife received her bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from the university.
“We’re very excited about this new relationship with Joe Biden, one of our most distinguished and loyal alumni,” Assanis said in a news release. “His vast experience as a public servant for more than 40 years will bring an important focus to many domestic policy matters to enhance the broader portfolio of programs within our school of public policy.”
The Biden Institute will be part of the university’s School of Public Policy and Administration and will be based on the university’s Newark campus.
“Every day of my career in public service has been motivated by the desire to ensure that every American is treated with dignity and gets a fair shot,” Biden said in a statement. “I am happy to continue that work at my alma mater, a place that is stamped on my heart.”