WATERVILLE — Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the commencement address next month at Colby College.
Biden also will receive an honorary doctorate of laws degree during the Sunday, May 21, graduation ceremony, which is open to the public, weather permitting.
The 47th vice president’s lifelong commitment to public service and his spirit of equality fall in line with the guiding principles of Colby, college President David A. Greene said Monday in a news release.
“Vice President Biden’s career in public service is truly remarkable, with his values and lived experiences informing and guiding his work,” Greene said in the release. “That is a message I know our graduates will carry with them as they move on to their lives after Colby.”
Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2017, which includes about 480 students from 35 states and 30 countries, will start at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, depending on the weather. Those who are not family members of graduates are asked to bring their own chairs. If it rains, tickets will be required for admission to the gymnasium at Harold Alfond Athletic Center on Campus Drive. An overflow simulcast will be available in the field house. Any future changes, as well as a link to a live broadcast, will be posted on Colby’s website for those who cannot attend.
Biden, who was not available for an interview Monday with the Morning Sentinel, has been committed to “equality of opportunity, global cooperation, human health and violence prevention” and all in a “spirit of acceptance and bipartisanship,” Greene said in the news release.
“These are themes and values that we address in the Colby community and explore through our education and research. We are delighted to present him with an honorary doctorate from Colby and to have him provide the commencement address to our accomplished Class of 2017.”
Biden, of Delaware, served as vice president from 2009 to 2017, traveling more than 1.2 million miles and visiting more than 50 countries. He oversaw then-President Barack Obama’s stimulus package in 2009 and worked on issues including middle-class living standards, gun violence, violence against women and the battle against cancer.
Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 when he was 29. He was re-elected six times and served 36 years. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he worked on criminal justice issues, championing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act. Through his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he contributed to a peacekeeping agreement in the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990s. He continued his work in foreign relations after he was elected vice president.
Since leaving the vice presidency, Biden and his wife, Jill, have worked with the Biden Foundation, seeking to identify policies that advance the middle class, decrease economic inequality and increase opportunity for everyone. The foundation focuses on foreign policy, cancer, community colleges and military families, protecting children, equality and ending violence against women. Biden will also lead the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
Others to be honored at commencement include political analyst Amy Walter, a 1991 Colby graduate and national editor of the Cook Political Report. Walter will deliver the baccalaureate address on Saturday, May 20, the day before graduation. She will receive a doctor of letters degree May 21 at commencement ceremonies.
Warren Washington, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, will be honored with a doctor of science degree. Yoshihiro Takishita, founding president of the Association for the Preservation of Traditional Japanese Farmhouses, will receive a doctor of fine arts degree.
“It is a privilege to recognize the many contributions of these extraordinary individuals,” Greene said Monday in separate release. “Their work has shaped global policies and events, provided insight to the most important political and scientific issues of our time, and opened our eyes to the lasting impact of careful historic and cultural preservation.”
Walter provides analysis of issues, trends and events that shape the political environment. She has built a reputation as an accurate, objective and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision makers, according to the release. Known as one of the best political journalists covering Washington, she is a former political director of ABC News and is an exclusive panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press and a regular panelist on both PBS’ “Washington Week” and Fox News’ “Special Report.”
Washington, a 50-year research scientist, served in the Carter, Reagan, George W. Bush and Clinton administrations and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest science award, by President Barack Obama. He now leads a group that uses state-of-the-art computer climate models to study present and future climate change.
According to the release, Takishita is trained as an architect, author, lecturer and preservationist. He has preserved rural Japanese dwellings more than 35 centuries old, reconstructing them as modern homes in new locations, including four outside Japan. His work is celebrated in Japan and abroad and has been featured in many publications, including Architectural Digest, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He has lectured at Colby College and Harvard University and is the author of “Japanese Country Style: Putting New Life Into Old Houses.”