The 47th Vice President of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., will deliver Colby College’s 141st commencement address next month. At the commencement ceremony, Biden will also be awarded with an honorary doctor of laws degree from the College.
Biden attended the University of Delaware, where he studied history and political science and later received his law degree from Syracuse University. He entered public service shortly after graduating law school. He was elected U.S. Senator from Delaware in 1972, at age 29, and earned re-election six times serving 36 years in the Senate. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden worked on criminal justice issues, supporting the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act. Through his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is credited with helping reach a peacekeeping agreement in the conflict in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
As Vice President, Biden carried an oversight role of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and worked on ongoing critical issues, including middle-class living standards, gun violence, violence against women, and the battle against cancer. On Jan. 12, 2017, shortly before the end of his term, President Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in a surprise ceremony at the White House.
After leaving office, Biden was named the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. According to a statement issued by the University of Pennsylvania, Biden will be tasked with leading the Penn-Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a new center focused primarily on diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security. The center will be located in Washington, D.C. but Biden will also have an office on the UPenn campus in Philadelphia.
In a press release issued by Colby earlier this week, President David A. Greene said that “Vice President Biden’s lifelong public service has been marked by his commitment to equality of opportunity, global cooperation, human health, and violence prevention, and all in a spirit of acceptance and bipartisanship.” Greene went on to say that these are “themes and values that we address in the Colby community and explore through our education and research. We are delighted to present [Biden] with an honorary doctorate from Colby and to have him provide the commencement address to our accomplished Class of 2017.”
A total of 483 members of the Colby Class of 2017 will graduate from Colby this year during a ceremony on Sunday, May 21. Class members include citizens of 41 countries and 35 U.S. states. Collectively, they will graduate with 58 majors, including several majors designed by individual students. They will join more than 26,000 Colby alumni.
“Vice President Biden’s career in public service is truly remarkable, with his values and lived experiences informing and guiding his work. That is a message I know our graduates will carry with them as they move on to their lives after Colby,” Greene said in a press release.
The May 21 commencement ceremony is set to begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. A press release went on to say that “Members of the public who are not family members of graduates should bring their own chairs. If it rains, the ceremony will be held inside the gymnasium and tickets will be required.”
Also in the press release, the College announced that political analyst and national editor of the Cook Political Report Amy Walter ’91 will deliver the baccalaureate address Saturday, May 20.
The College will also honor Warren Washington, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, with a doctor of science degree and Yoshihiro Takishita, founding president of the Association for the Preservation of Traditional Japanese Farmhouses, with a doctor of fine arts degree. Walter will receive a doctor of letters degree and Biden will receive a doctor of laws degree.
Biden is also scheduled to give speeches at a number of other elite institutions. On May 20, Biden will be traveling to Morgan State University to speak at their 141st commencement. On May 24, Biden will be giving a speech at Harvard University’s annual Class Day. Biden will then be traveling to Cornell University on May 27 to speak at their 149th commencement ceremony.