Was Joe Biden a full professor for four years?

Joe Biden: “For four years I was a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Decision: half true

Here’s why: During a visit to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, President Joe Biden broke the ice with his audience by saying he shared common ground with members of the university community.

“I’ve visited many college campuses,” Biden said. mentioned April 14. “Actually, for four years I was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania. And it really is an awesome place with a lot of awesome students.”

A reader asked us to check if Biden was really a tenured professor for four years.

Biden served as the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania between his time as vice president and the start of his presidential campaign. However, the tenure of the position was closer to two years than four, since he was on leave while running for president. In addition, his or her duties may not be consistent with the full range of activities that the public might associate with the term “full professor”, including teaching semester-long courses, conducting independent research, and managing administrative responsibilities.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

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According to the university faculty handbookthe rank of practice professor “is limited to a small number of full-time nontenured professorships” at some Penn schools that permit the addition to the faculty of “distinguished and highly experienced individuals who have achieved success in their fields and whose skills and knowledge are essential to the educational process, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The manual describes a practice teacher’s “primary” activity as teaching, although they may also “supervise independent studies and internships, serve on committees and attend meetings of school teachers”. .

According to tax forms he posted, Biden received more than $900,000 from the university for serving in the position between 2017 and 2019. His position “did not involve regular classes and a dozen public appearances on campus, mostly in big ticketed events,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Specifically, the Inquirer reported, Biden’s appearances included “three Q&As with Penn President Amy Gutmann, panel discussions on immigration and cancer, a talk on his book, a talk at a class of Wharton and public conversations with former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, according to a count by the student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian.”

As part of the post, Biden also established the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington for college. Biden’s chair included memberships with the Annenberg School for Communication, Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School.

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However, shortly after Biden’s nomination was announced in 2017, Kate Bedingfield, a spokesperson for Biden, told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Biden would not teach regular classes.

Biden was the first individual to hold the Franklin professorship, and his tenure overlapped with that of the second incumbent: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a Republican. Biden and Bush hosted at least two joint events on campus, the Inquirer reported.

Biden took unpaid leave in April 2019when he became a presidential candidate, which means his time as an active chair was about two years, not four as Biden said in his speech in North Carolina.

PolitiFact asked the University of Pennsylvania about the differences between Biden’s position and those of a basic tenured professor.

“Penn has many different models of chairs,” Ron Ozio, the university’s director of media relations, told PolitiFact. “Not all are tenure-track or involve teaching regular classes. Some are clinicians, some are researchers, and some are practice teachers, the category that applied to President Biden.”

Ozio added that the university was happy with Biden’s tenure.

Biden has “phenomenal success,” Ozio said. “He has helped expand the university’s global reach, while sharing his wisdom and insights with thousands of Penn students through events, lectures and class visits across the world. ‘university.”

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Our decision

Biden said, “For four years I was a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Biden served as a “professor of practice” at the University of Pennsylvania. However, his tenure was closer to two years, as he was on unpaid leave while running for president. His duties as a tutor did not include the same degree of teaching, research, and administrative responsibilities that some would associate with someone in a “full professor” position.

We evaluate the statement as half true.

Our Sources

  • White House, remarks by Joe Biden at North Carolina A&T State University, April 14, 2022
  • University of Pennsylvania, Faculty Handbook, Accessed April 22, 2022
  • University of Pennsylvania, “A Message to the Penn Community Regarding Vice President Joe Biden,” April 30, 2019
  • University of Pennsylvania, biography of Joe Biden, accessed April 21, 2022
  • University of Pennsylvania, biography of Jeb Bush, accessed April 21, 2022
  • Philadelphia Inquirer, “Penn has paid Joe Biden over $900,000 since he left the White House. What has he done to make money?” July 12, 2019
  • Daily Pennsylvanian, “No one is quite sure what Joe Biden will do at Penn”, February 28, 2017
  • Daily Pennsylvanian, “Joe Biden came to Penn for the fourth time in 2018. Here’s his role on campus, explained”, December 11, 2017
  • Daily Pennsylvanian, “Jeb Bush Just Became Penn’s Second Presidential Practice Professor. Here’s What It Means”, September 20, 2018
  • Daily Pennsylvanian, “Biden claims to be a ‘teacher’ at Penn Drew Scrutiny. This is what his role really was”, April 17, 2020
  • Daily Pennsylvanian, “Photo Essay: A look back at Joe Biden’s visits to Penn since becoming a professor”, February 20, 2019
  • Tax Notes, Presidential Tax Returns Archive, Accessed April 21, 2022
  • Snopes.com, “Was Biden a ‘Full Professor’ at the University of Pennsylvania?” April 15, 2022
  • Email interview with Kelly Benjamin, spokesperson for the American Association of University Professors, April 19, 2022
  • Email interview with Ron Ozio, director of media relations at the University of Pennsylvania, April 19, 2022

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