The Vice President of the United States will celebrate his 50-year anniversary as a graduate of the University of Delaware next year. To commemorate the occasion and pay tribute to UD, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. hosted a reception in his home at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., for members of the Class of 1965 Reunion Committee, leadership members of the Washington D.C. Alumni Club, and friends, faculty, leaders and supporters of the University.
With more than 100 Blue Hens in attendance, the University’s most famous graduate spoke of his affinity for UD and excitement for its future.
“It’s not unusual that when I’m asked where I think [students] should go to school, I say, ‘Do what I did, ’” said Biden. “The lessons I learned in the political science department were ones that have served me well.”
Ed Stein, a fellow ’65 graduate and member of the 50th Reunion Committee, said he was especially grateful for “people like Joe Biden, who still have the energy and stamina to be out in the world every day working tirelessly for our country.”
Stein and other attendees also remarked at how graciously their host opened his doors to fellow Hens.
“When the Reunion Committee members were invited to a private photo op with the Vice President, the casual atmosphere made it seem like any alumni gathering … but with a little extra security,” said Barbara Vann, another member of the committee. “The VP was more a Blue Hen than he was the nation's second-in-command, and it was a pleasure to reminisce about the University of Delaware as we knew it.”
Biden spoke at length about the growth and development of UD, at one point telling University President Patrick Harker, “Pat, you’ve led my alma mater to new heights.”
Recent University developments include the construction of the first new laboratory in 20 years and the expansion of the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus on the former Chrysler site. In his remarks, Harker spoke about UD’s mission and the people who help make its development and growth possible.
“We are shaping the national debate on so many issues that matter,” he said. “And we’re not doing it alone. We have an incredible community of supporters, including our very active alumni club in DC.”
Karen Slachetka, Washington DC club president, called the reception “truly special.”
“We can all take pride in having a Blue Hen in the president’s administration, and even more so, one who is such a vocal supporter of our University,” she said. “Vice President Biden is the best example that we truly are Blue Hens forever.”
Also attending the event was fellow lifelong Blue Hen Shawn McCall. A 1988 graduate of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, McCall serves on President Harker’s Leadership Council and as an advisory board member for UD’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship.
“Being in these roles allows me to interact directly with students, alums and University leaders,” he said. “UD is undergoing some exciting changes, in terms of growth and opportunities, and I want to continue to be part of that change.”
McCall and others mingled throughout the evening. And as the event wrapped up, the host graciously extended the welcome.
“As long as I’m in this home,” said Biden, “this is your home. I am delighted to have you all here.”
A frequent visitor to his alma mater, Biden has given the Commencement address four times -- in 1978, 1987, 2004 and 2014 — and in 2011 he donated his Senatorial papers to the University of Delaware Library and delivered the inaugural James R. Soles Lecture on the Constitution and Citizenship.