After Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suspended his campaign last week, Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee. Although he is not a Penn alumnus and has never taught a formal class, the former Vice President has strong ties to the University.
But Biden's affiliation with the University has been met with confusion, and most recently scrutiny from right-leaning media outlets who question his recent campaign trail assertion that "rather than “taking a Wall Street job, [he] became a teacher, became a professor” after his term as vice president ended.
In 2017, Biden accepted an honorary professor position, formally referred to as “Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor.” He also established the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C, in addition to the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, his alma mater.
According to a statement by President Amy Gutmann, Biden is currently taking an unpaid leave of absence from his role at the center because of the campaign, though it continues to operate under different leadership.
The Penn Biden Center, which opened in 2018, states that it "engages Penn’s students and partners with its faculty and global centers to convene world leaders, develop and advance smart policy, and strengthen the national debate for continued American global leadership in the 21st century," according to the mission statement on its website.
Although he does not teach regular classes, Biden has appeared on campus several times, and spoken at Penn on at least five occasions. Some of his visits include a dialogue at Irvine Auditorium with former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Penn’s 2018 Silfen Forum, and an event with President Gutmann, where he discussed international relations and cancer research.
Though Biden does not share the alumni status of 1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump, his rival this November, several members of the Biden family have graduated from Penn’s various schools – including his late son, 1991 College graduate Beau Biden, his daughter, 2010 Social Policy and Practice graduate Ashley Biden, and granddaughter, 2016 College graduate Naomi Biden. Another of his granddaughters, Finnegan Biden, is currently a junior in the College.
In the last election cycle, President Trump famously received backlash for his frequent remarks about Penn on the campaign trail. From June 2015 to January 2018, Trump had mentioned Wharton 52 times, most of which occurred while actively campaigning.