Phantom professor: Joe Biden hired to UPenn faculty in 2017, never taught a single class
The Biden campaign came up against another potential scandal while campaigning in South Carolina leading up today’s primary in the state. The former veep was paid over three-quarter of a million dollars for doing absolutely nothing for two years.
Though Biden said he “became a professor” after leaving office in 2017, reports from the time indicate neither he nor the university that hired him expected him to teach any classes. Students and faculty were never quite clear on what Biden was supposed to do for all that cash.
During a campaign event in Georgetown, South Carolina earlier this week, Biden again made the claim that few had previously heard about. He told Palmetto State voters that he “became a teacher, became a professor” rather than “taking a Wall Street job” before his book about his son, Beau, was released.
Apparently, according to media releases from the time, neither the school nor Biden expected him to teach any classes when the University of Pennsylvania made Biden the “Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor” in 2017. The Biden camp made that clear at the time as well.
“He will not be teaching classes,” Biden spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said in 2017.
As the Daily Pennsylvanian featured then in a headline, “No One Is Really Sure What Joe Biden Will Be Doing At Penn.”
UPenn made the announcement of Biden’s hiring on February 7, 2017, two weeks after Donald Trump and Mike Pence were sworn into the presidency and vice presidency, respectively. By the end of February Biden’s role was “still uncertain” and “being ironed out,” University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy told the Pennsylvanian on February 24, 2017
MacCarthy did not respond to a request for comment Saturday morning.
One student at the time wrote that UPenn was paying Biden “to essentially do nothing but sporadically show his face on campus.”
The student was not far from the truth. Biden appeared on the UPenn campus four times to make speeches in 2017 and made another four speeches in 2018. Penn paid him $926,527 for his trouble, nearly double the average salary for everyday professors, according to PhillyMag.
When the Daily Caller asked whether Biden had in fact taught any courses since being hired, UPenn Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen did not list any, saying his work was instead based in Washington.
“Vice President Biden was hired principally to lead the Washington D.C. Penn Biden Center, which opened in 2018,” she said, clarifying that he began a leave of absence in April 2019.
Allen emphasized that “it is not unusual for a Penn faculty member to engage in something other than ordinary classroom teaching as their primary responsibility.”
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.