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'Maker of political kings'

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UD cited in CBS television discussion about admissions reactions

Vice President Joe Biden, a 1965 alumnus with a double major in political science and history, delivered the Commencement address in May 2014.

Frank Bruni, columnist with The New York Times and author of the book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, cited the University of Delaware in a discussion on the program CBS This Morning on Tuesday, March 17.

The program concerned students and parents who can put too much stock in acceptance to the nation’s elite universities, the Princetons and Stanfords, when those might not be the right institutions for them.

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Bruni noted that Vice President Joe Biden is a University of Delaware graduate, as is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. And he added that David Plouffe, a key Obama adviser, is a UD alumnus, as is Steve Schmidt, who was a senior adviser in the presidential campaign of John McCain.

“So why aren’t we talking about this maker of political kings, the University of Delaware?” Bruni said, adding the reason is “because we prefer the other narrative, which is not an accurate one.”

Biden, a longtime U.S. senator from Delaware, received his bachelor's degree, with a double major in history and political science, from UD in 1965 and an honorary doctorate in 2004. As vice president, he has remained involved with the University, visiting campus for various events and speaking at last year's Commencement ceremonies in May.

His professors, he told the Commencement audience, "not only taught me, they challenged me and helped me understand the change that was happening" during the politically tumultuous 1960s.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a 1984 graduate with a degree in political science and international relations, speaks on campus in 2011 as part of the National Agenda series.

Christie, a 1984 graduate in political science, became New Jersey's 55th governor in January 2010 and easily won re-election in 2013 to a second term. He is widely believed to be preparing for a run for president in 2016. He has continued to come to the UD campus and in 2011, he spoke as part of the University's National Agenda speaker series.

Christie, who told the audience at that event that he remembered sitting in his dorm room and filling out an absentee presidential election ballot for Ronald Reagan, said that he "developed a set of core beliefs and instincts" while a UD student under the direction of such faculty members as the late James R. Soles.

Both Plouffe and Schmidt graduated with degrees in political science and international relations.

Provost Domenico Grasso said Bruni's comments about the University were no surprise to those who know UD.

“This is great news and demonstrates what we already know: The work we do at the University of Delaware is consequential and the leaders we produce leave a dynamic imprint on the world,” Grasso said. “The educational experience we offer is undeniably valuable and on par with the best institutions in the nation.”

During his book tour, Bruni has also mentioned UD through several other news outlets, including National Public Radio's The Diane Rehm Show, CNN, Yahoo News, the Christian Science Monitor and the National Journal.

In 2008, UD gained notice during the Obama-McCain campaign as Bloomberg News called it the “epicenter” of the presidential race given the many ties.

The reporter, Nicholas Johnston, wrote, “The academic epicenter of this year's presidential election isn't, as in some years past, Harvard or Yale. It's located between Baltimore and Philadelphia at the University of Delaware.” 

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New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, author of a new book about college admissions, often cites the political success of UD alumni.
3/19/2015
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Political kingmaker
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