June 18, 2019 | 65° F

Rutgers asks former Vice President Joe Biden to speak at 2018 commencement

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez and Dimitri Rodriguez |
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to University students at the College Avenue Gymnasium around the It's On Us campaign sponsored by the Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance as part of Turn the Campus Purple.

At the end of his speech for the “It’s On Us” rally, former Vice President Joe Biden climbed back onto the stage and promised to return to Rutgers soon. But Biden might be returning sooner than expected.

In a University statement, spokesperson and Senior Director of University News and Media Relations Karen Smith confirmed that Rutgers extended Biden an invitation to the 2018 commencement.

"We have asked him if he will consider returning to serve as commencement speaker at the Rutgers University Commencement in May and would be honored if he accepts," Smith said. "The Rutgers Board of Governors votes to confirm the commencement speaker each year."

Biden told students at the rally in the College Avenue Gymnasium that he had been invited but was still unsure of if he could commit to it, according to the Rutgers Reddit page.

The post read, "At the end of the rally, right before he left, he told us that he was invited to be the commencement speaker. He said he doesn't know if he can be there for it, but he also said, 'I promise I will come back.'"

Students nominate commencement speakers in advance, allowing time for the Board of Governors to vote and confirm a commencement speaker, the Targum previously reported.

"We eagerly await Vice President Biden's decision to set that process in motion," Smith said.

The revelation of Biden's invitation comes just a year after former President Barack Obama shocked students when he accepted his invitation to speak at Rutgers' 250th-anniversary commencement, just one month prior to the event and one week after the University announced former Press Secretary Bill Moyers as the speaker.

At the 2018 commencement, Rutgers will also honor the new governor of New Jersey, Smith said. It is tradition to award new governors an honorary degree but not for them to serve as commencement speakers.

Earlier this year students created a movement to invite television host Ellen DeGeneres to campus as the commencement speaker but ultimately failed as musician Steven Van Zandt received the nomination from the University's Board of Governors.

NJ Advance Media reported in January despite the petition, video and hashtag created by graduating students that DeGeneres was not one of the 24 names submitted to the University to be considered as commencement speaker.

Biden's name was submitted through the nomination process, and the Board of Governors will have a final vote to confirm that selection, Smith said.

Alexandra DeMatos is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and women's and gender studies. She is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @dematosaa for more.

Alexandra DeMatos

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