University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann today announced that Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has been named the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will lead the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a new center focused principally on diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security. The Center will be located in Washington, D.C. Biden will also have an office on the Penn campus in Philadelphia.
“Joe Biden is one of the greatest statesmen of our times,” said 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. His unsurpassed understanding of diplomacy and far-ranging grasp of world issues make him an ideal fit to further Penn's global engagement – including the work of Penn Global and Perry World House, signature initiatives to develop innovative interdisciplinary global strategies and programs that distinguish Penn as a global agenda setter in higher education.”
The Penn Biden Center promises significant impact for both Penn’s teaching and research missions. As Presidential Practice Professor, Biden will hold joint appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, with a secondary affiliation in the Wharton School.
“At Penn, I look forward to building on the work that has been a central pillar of my career in public office: promoting and protecting the post-WWII international order that keeps the United States safe and strong,” said Vice President Biden. “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.”
“Providing students with a chance to examine foreign policy dynamics from someone who has been at the forefront of international relations both in the Senate and in the Executive Branch truly sets Penn apart,” said Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel. “At the same time, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement will partner with Penn’s many academic centers and programs, in particular Perry World House, to advance understanding of – and develop novel solutions to – the pressing challenges facing the world in the 21st century.”
One of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate, Biden served as a Senator from Delaware for 36 years, establishing himself as a leader on many of the nation’s most important global and domestic challenges. Over the course of his more than four decades of public service, he has represented the U.S. in every region of the world. As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years, Biden played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. He was at the forefront of issues and legislation related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. He also left a lasting mark on domestic policy as a Senator; as Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 17 years, Biden was widely recognized for his work on criminal justice issues, including the landmark 1994 Crime Law and the Violence Against Women Act.
As the nation’s 47th Vice President, Biden continued his leadership on important issues facing the nation. A close advisor to President Barack Obama on international affairs, Vice President Biden has represented our country in every region of the world, developed deep relationships with numerous world leaders, and demonstrating U.S. commitment through high-level, face-to-face diplomacy. He was the Obama Administration’s point person for diplomacy within the Western Hemisphere, working to realize his vision of a Hemisphere that is “middle class, secure, and democratic, from Canada to Chile and everywhere in between.” The Vice President also led the Administration’s efforts to support a sovereign, democratic Ukraine, visiting the country three times in 2014. He was deeply involved in the Middle East, particularly by shaping U.S. policy toward Iraq.
On the domestic front, Vice President Biden was tasked with implementing and overseeing the $840 billion stimulus package in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He also led the Ready to Work Initiative, the Administration’s key effort to identify opportunities to improve the nation’s workforce skills and training systems. A long-time advocate against sexual assault and domestic violence, the Vice President appointed the first-ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with leading the nation’s Cancer Moonshot program to “end cancer as we know it,” an effort that the Vice President formally launched several days later when he visited Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.
On January 12, 2017, President Obama awarded Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with Distinction, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.
Biden and his family have a long affiliation with Penn. His late son Beau, daughter Ashley, and granddaughter Naomi are all Penn graduates. In May of 2013, Biden received an honorary degree from Penn and was the University’s commencement speaker. As both U.S. Senator from Delaware and Vice President of the United States, Biden has spoken numerous times at Penn and has been a regular visitor to campus.
As a significant component of Gutmann’s Penn Compact 2020, Penn has made a major commitment to extend the University’s global engagement by bringing the world to Penn and Penn to the world through broad-ranging University-wide programs, including the opening of the Penn Wharton China Center in 2015 and Perry World House in 2016. Penn Global was established in 2012, with the goals of preparing students for a globalized world, strengthening Penn as a global agenda setter, and deploying Penn research to promote healthy, inspiring and productive lives. It works with faculty and schools across the University to bring new research, ideas and perspectives to global education around the world. Perry World House, Penn’s new global research hub dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary, policy relevant approaches to the world’s most urgent global affairs challenges, will play a critical role integrating the work of the Penn Biden Center with Penn’s broader academic and policy communities.
The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement will open its Washington, D.C. office later in 2017.