Joe Biden has been elected to chair the Philadelphia National Constitution Center’s board of trustees, his most significant appointment since the unusually popular former vice president left the White House early this year.
Mr. Biden, who has left the door ajar to bigger appointments such as an unlikely third tilt at the presidency in 2020, was named by the center on Wednesday to succeed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“The National Constitution Center’s mission to teach all Americans about the great document of human freedom that unites us has never been more timely, urgently needed, and inspiring,” Biden said in a statement.
The center was established by Congress to “disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan basis in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people,” states the center's website, by hosting interactive exhibits and events to inspire active citizenship.
Jeffrey Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the center, said Biden's "love for the constitution, and passion for teaching all Americans about its enduring principles, have inspired people around the world."
Biden said he is honored to succeed former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush at the head of such a "national treasure."
The somewhat routine appointment may garner more attention than it otherwise would have, given the rumors he may take up other high profile positions in politics.
Speaking to reporters in December, Biden half-joked, “I’m going to run in 2020. For president. So, uh, what the hell, man.”
Pressed for more details, he remained ambiguous.
"I'm not committing not to run," he said. "I'm not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening."
There were also rumblings late last year that Biden, who is known for his genuine political friendships on both sides of the aisle and broad-based appeal with Americans, might have run to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Biden had also mulled calls to run against the Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination but declined, citing his family’s need of time to grieve the passing of their son Beau Biden.
Regardless, Biden’s popularity and immense contribution to American politics was underscored in January when former President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom “with distinction,” an added rank recent presidents have used only for Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan, and Gen. Colin Powell.
Before hanging the award around his neck, Mr. Obama called Biden the “best vice president America’s ever seen” and a “lion of American history,” The Monitor's Peter Grier wrote at the time. He also quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina saying, “If you can’t admire Biden as a person, you’ve got a problem. He’s as good a man as God ever created.”
In addition to his new role at the National Constitution Center, Biden will also split his time between programs at the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania as part of his post-White House life.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.