Biden began his more than 40 years in public service as a county council member in Delaware, then spent more than three decades as a U.S. senator, where he served until becoming vice president in 2008.
“In his career-long work in government, his consummate dedication to public service and his finely-honed capacity to craft landmark bipartisan legislation, Joe Biden has improved the lives of countless fellow Americans and people around the world,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “From shaping U.S. foreign policy to creating laws that protect civil liberties and prevent crime, Joe Biden has earned enormous respect and admiration at home and abroad as a major force for making our nation a better country. He is the perfect choice to address the 257th class of Penn graduates as we prepare to launch our wonderful students into the world.”
Biden advises President Obama on national and international issues and, as vice president, has fought to raise the living standards of middle-class Americans across the country, played a lead role in ending the war in Iraq responsibly, led a task force to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, and worked with Congress to help avert the “fiscal cliff” in 2012.
Other honorary-degree recipients include:
• Kwame Anthony Appiah, a Princeton University professor, and a widely published philosopher and cultural theorist whose work on race, identity, politics, and moral philosophy has helped change our understanding of human behavior.
• Michelle Bachelet, the under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, the world’s first high-profile international agency dedicated to advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality. A former president of Chile, Bachelet has led UN Women since its creation in 2010.
• Ursula Burns, chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation and the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 corporation.
• Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, and a renowned development economist and economic reformer. She’s a former managing director of the World Bank.
• Samuel H. Preston, a Penn professor of sociology, is one of the world’s foremost demographers. He has held numerous University leadership roles, including dean of the School of Arts & Sciences from 1998 to 2004, departmental chair, director of the Population Studies Center, and director of the Population Aging Research Center.
• Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie G. Thompson are preeminent experts on ice core analysis who used ice cores collected from glaciers on six continents during more than 40 years to reconstruct a detailed history of Earth’s climate changes during several millennia.
• James Edward West is a path-breaking electrical engineer whose co-invention of the electret microphone revolutionized the telephone and recording industries in the 20th century.
NOTE: Due to heightened security at Penn’s Commencement ceremony, the gates to Franklin Field will open at 7 a.m., and it is recommended that attendees plan on arriving as early as possible. Every guest will be required to go through airport-style magnetometers, and certain items will be prohibited from Franklin Field, including but not limited to, oversized bags, bottles, tripods, and umbrellas.
Additional information about commencement is available at the Penn Commencement website.
Originally published on March 14, 2013