Morgan State University’s Earl S. Richardson Library. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Former Vice President Joseph Biden is coming to Baltimore this month to give the keynote address during Morgan State University’s spring commencement exercises.

University president David Wilson announced Biden will speak during the university’s 141st graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 20, at 9:30 a.m. at Hughes Stadium on the Morgan campus.

Biden, a two-term vice president during the Obama administration, is one of four people receiving honorary doctorate degrees at the event. The others are journalist and Morgan graduate April Ryan, who will be awarded a Doctor of Laws, and philanthropists C. Sylvia Brown and Sheldon Goldseker, who will join Biden in receiving Doctor of Public Service degrees.

More than 1,200 candidates will receive bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees during the ceremony.

“Morgan State University was founded to strengthen dispossessed communities and broaden the distribution of educational opportunities to talented students who otherwise would be denied,” Wilson said in a statement. “We are proud to continue that vital tradition into our sesquicentennial year.“

“The honored guests who will attend our commencement this year — those on the dais as well as those in the stands — have the same commitment to social advancement and equity that the founders of Morgan had in 1867,” Wilson continued. “And now, as then, Morgan is sending its graduates into the world prepared to provide good leadership and meet the great challenges of the future.”

Biden represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years, 17 of them as chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and 12 as chairman or ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He then served as the 47th vice president from 2009 to 2017, providing leadership on issues such as raising the living standards of middle-class Americans, addressing gun violence and violence against women and fighting cancer. As vice president, he represented the United States during his travels to more than 50 countries.

April Ryan, a Baltimore native, earned her bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Morgan State University in 1989. A 30-year journalism veteran, she has been White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks since January 1997, covering three U.S. presidents, and was recently hired by CNN as a political analyst. She also authored the 2015 book, “The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America.” Her mother also graduated from Morgan State.

Sylvia Brown, originally from Virginia, earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Howard University and a master’s in health education at Indiana University. She taught in middle schools in New Jersey and New York and worked as an administrator for five years at Baltimore City Community College. She and her husband, Eddie C. Brown, founded the Turning the Corner Achievement Program, which offers innovative education initiatives geared toward African-American middle schoolers in Baltimore. The Browns have generously supported many other educational causes, including Morgan.

Sheldon Goldseker is founding board chair of the Goldseker Foundation, a private Baltimore philanthropy that has granted approximately $100 million to 600 local nonprofit organizations and projects. He was also one of the first trustees of the Baltimore Community Foundation, a role he held for 38 years. During his tenure, the foundation’s assets grew from $2 million to more than $170 million. In addition, Goldesker was also one of the founding members and the first president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, a regional philanthropy resource. Under his leadership, the Goldseker Foundation has become the largest private supporter of scholarship programs in Morgan’s history.

Check back on Baltimore Fishbowl this week for our full guide on keynote speakers at Baltimore-area colleges and universities, as well as select high schools.

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.