US President Joe Biden faced fresh criticism on Friday for claiming to have taught at the University of Pennsylvania. While the school paid him almost $1 million over three years for a bespoke position, there is no record of him actually teaching a class.
“I taught at the University of Pennsylvania for four years and I used to teach political theory. And folks, you always hear, every generation has to fight for Democracy,” Biden said on Thursday, in a meandering speech at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.
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“Biden was paid $1 million, but he never taught a single class,” the Republican National Committee said in response.
UPenn hired Biden in 2017, after he left the White House as Barack Obama’s vice president. Records published by the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2019 showed Biden getting paid $371,159 in 2017 and $540,484 in 2018 for “a vaguely defined role that involved no regular classes and around a dozen public appearances on campus.” The average salary for a professor at UPenn for the 2017-18 academic year was $217,411, the Inquirer noted.
Biden’s official title was the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Professor of Practice, the first – and only – person to ever hold that post. The failed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was also employed as a non-Franklin “presidential professor of practice,” from 2018 to 2020.
According to the UPenn student newspaper, Biden appeared at three question-and-answer sessions with the university president, panels discussing immigration and cancer, a talk about his book, a lecture at the Wharton School of Business, and public appearances with former Mexican president Felipe Calderon and former British deputy PM Nick Clegg.
While Biden has a long history of misspeaking and embellishing his biography, his UPennclaim was one of many gaffes just this week, starting with a rocky press conference in Vietnam.
“The president has lied about being at ground zero the day after the September 11 attacks, falsely claimed he saw the Pittsburgh bridge collapse, claimed his grandfather died in the hospital days before his birth. What is going on with the president? Is he just believing things that didn’t happen did happen, or is he just randomly making stuff up?” Washington Times reporter Jeff Mordock asked at the White House briefing on Wednesday. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby dodged the question, however.
Currently 80, Biden is the oldest man ever to be sworn in as a US president. On Wednesday, both the New York Times and the Washington Post published opinion pieces arguing that he is too old to run for re-election in 2024.