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President Biden with his granddaughter, Natalie, walking down Walnut Street.

Credit: Derek Wong

In a surprise visit, President Joe Biden stopped by Penn‘s campus on Friday afternoon, attracting hundreds of students and community members.

Biden arrived around 3:45 p.m. at the University Meeting and Guest House, located at 3808 Walnut Street, before exiting around 5:25 p.m. and walking down Walnut Street to the Penn Bookstore, stopping to greet the crowd of students and Philadelphia residents who had gathered along the way. Biden, former Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor and founder of the Penn Biden Center, was accompanied by Penn President Liz Magill and his granddaughter, Natalie Biden, who was reportedly visiting the University. 

The visit marked Biden's first public appearance on Penn's campus since 2019.

Around 3:15 p.m., dozens of Philadelphia police and secret service motor vehicles restricted vehicle access to 38th Street from Spruce to Chestnut streets. After staying briefly in the Guest House as well as Perry World House, Biden exited out of the front door of the Guest House and walked down Walnut Street to the Penn Bookstore. Stopping several times to speak with people on the street, the President told one student that "the most important thing is taking care of your family."

Upon leaving the Bookstore, Biden walked to his car and waved to the nearly 500 students who had gathered to a swell of cheers before pulling away with his motorcade. After Biden departed, Magill told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the meeting with Biden had been "great."

In February 2017, Biden was appointed to the honorary professor position of Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor. Biden's role at Penn was largely ceremonial and he did not teach classes and appeared on campus infrequently. Biden also opened the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C. in early 2018. 

Credit: Derek Wong Students waiting outside of the Penn Bookstore for President Biden’s appearance

When Biden announced he was running for president in April 2019, he took an unpaid leave of absence from his post at the Penn Biden Center. The Center continues to operate under different leadership.

Several members of the Biden family have also graduated from Penn’s various schools.

Biden was in Philadelphia on Sept. 1 for a speech from Independence Hall that focused largely on democracy and "the continued battle for the soul of the nation." He characterized the upcoming general election as a battle between the Democrats and “ultra-MAGA Republicans.”