At 11am this morning, Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States, received an Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College. The ceremony took place in the Exam Hall. Biden also received the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society.
The entire ceremony was conducted in Latin, a tradition which has not changed since 1592. Chancellor of the college, Mary Robinson presented Biden with his degree. Matthew Nuding, President of the University Philosophical Society awarded Biden his Honorary Patronage of the society soon after.
Biden delivered a speech to the large crowd in attendance. He remarked upon the results of the EU referendum which took place in the UK yesterday, stating on behalf of the United States government that they “fully respect the decision they have made”, however nothing that they would have “preferred” another outcome. He went on to ensure that the relationship between the UK and Ireland and America “will remain the cornerstone of (their) engagement”.
Biden also spoke about his connection with Ireland and mentioned that Robinson and him were “distant cousins by marriage”. He referenced past American greats such as Woodrow Wilson and Benjamin Franklin and how they visited Trinity many years ago which he believed “launched an irrevocable friendship” between the United States and Ireland.
He went on to jest about the longevity of the Philosophical Society, expressing that “when your clubs are older than my country it leaves an impression”.
Biden closed his speech with strong statements to the younger generations of today. He paralleled Yeats’ “all changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born” with today’s testing times noting that “(we) have an opportunity to bend history just slightly but with enormous consequence”. Biden urged the crowd to “resist the temptation to rationalise”, supposedly reflecting upon his past decision to withdraw from the race for the Democratic Presidential candidature due to his son’s death as a result of cancer.
Other candidates who received Honorary Doctorates include Nobel Laureate Peter Higgs (creator of the ‘Higgs Boson’ machine), Irish novelist JP Donleavy, civil rights activist and lawyer Hina Jilani and novelist Lia Mills. Trinity’s oldest student Joe Veselsky was also presented with an Honorary Master of Arts Degree at the ceremony.