Viral Meme Says Biden Graduated 76th in a Class of 85 at Syracuse University College of Law in ’68. Here Are the Facts

US

Claim:

Joe Biden graduated 76th academically in a class of 85 students at Syracuse University College of Law in 1968.

Rating:

Rating: True

Rating: True

In April 2024 – just months away from the November U.S. elections – a meme was virally shared on Facebook, X and other websites showing a past photo of President Joe Biden with the words, “Graduated 76th in a Class of 85.” As of this writing, it was unclear who created the meme or where it was first posted. Searches with reverse-image search tools showed few results.

One of the popular posts appeared as follows:

A rumor said Joe Biden finished 76th in a class of 85 at Syracuse University College of Law in 1968.

A rumor said Joe Biden finished 76th in a class of 85 at Syracuse University College of Law in 1968.

“Did Biden graduate 76th out of a class of 85?,” a reader asked Snopes in email. “Saw it posted by a friend on Facebook today 4/19 with an image of a grad that looks kinda like him shaking hands with someone else. Both in regalia. Black & white photo.”

This claim was true. Biden finished 76th academically in a class of 85 at Syracuse University College of Law in 1968. This fact was previously confirmed in decades-old reporting from The Associated PressThe New York TimesThe Washington Post and others. Many of the dated reports publishing this news cited records that Biden himself released in the late 1980s.

The picture featured in the meme showed Biden with the Rev. William J. Byron, the former president of the University of Scranton. It was captured at the 1976 undergraduate commencement ceremony where Biden – then a U.S. senator – received an honorary degree and addressed students with a speech. Byron died at the age of 96 on April 9, 2024, just days before the meme went viral.

https://www.facebook.com/universityofscranton/posts/pfbid02Yxe2ym7SJXzDEMaGzckMXiRQa77uyeYjpHAhLMU8qksmbrSsNkjrWK4f1B6wVHnhl

The Syracuse University College of Law Alumni Association once published a letter mentioning Biden’s low placement in his graduating class. “But statistics often prove not to be the predictor of one’s abilities or prospects,” the letter read. “And, indeed, it was after leaving Syracuse that his life and career took off.”

On this same subject, Snopes previously reported on Biden’s past false claim where he said he finished in the “top half” of his class at Syracuse. That and other false claims about his past – including a plagiarism scandal – reportedly factored in to his decision to drop out of the 1988 presidential race.

Snopes contacted Syracuse University College of Law to request records regarding this matter. We will update this story if we receive any further details.

Sources:

“Biden Made Tall Claims, Article Says.” Charlotte Observer via The Washington Post, 21 Sept. 1987, https://www.newspapers.com/image/625387830/?terms=biden&match=1.

“Biden Urges Students to Be Engaged Citizens at 1976 Commencement.” Royal News | The University of Scranton, 18 Nov. 2020, https://news.scranton.edu//articles/2020/11/news-biden.shtml.

Joseph R. Biden Jr, Class of 1968. Syracuse University College of Law Alumni Association, https://law.syracuse.edu/wp-content/uploads/VP_Biden_Citation.pdf.

Liles, Jordan. “Did White House Announce Biden’s IQ Is 187?” Snopes, 30 Jan. 2024, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/biden-187-iq/.

“Rev. William J. Byron, S.J., The University of Scranton’s 21st President Dies.” Royal News | The University of Scranton, 9 Apr. 2024, https://news.scranton.edu//articles/2024/04/news-president-byron.shtml.

“Sen. Joe Biden Claimed during a Campaign Appearance in New Hampshire Last Spring That He Finished in the Top Half of His Law School Class, Although Records Indicate He Finished near the Bottom.” The Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/cd977f7ff301993f7976974ba07c5495.

“The Candidates For Vice President.” Newsday, 2 Nov. 2008, p. K7, https://www.newspapers.com/image/730761354/.

Toner, Robin. “Biden Assails New Report of Dishonesty.” The New York Times, 21 Sept. 1987, https://www.nytimes.com/1987/09/21/us/biden-assails-new-report-of-dishonesty.html.

Waxman, Olivia B. “Why Joe Biden’s First Campaign for President Collapsed After Just 3 Months.” TIME, 30 July 2019, https://time.com/5636715/biden-1988-presidential-campaign/.

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