For Immediate Release
October 2, 2018
Karen Garrett
Chief of Communications & Marketing
(202) 393-7878

ASPA Joins Thought Leaders at Biden Challenge

Former Vice President Convenes Scholars, Administrators to Generate Ideas for Revitalizing the Middle Class

Newark, DE – The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) joined more than 150 thought leaders, researchers, scholars, administrators and others at the University of Delaware campus on Friday, September 28, to answer former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s call to generate ideas that will revitalize the middle class.

Born out of a challenge issued in 2017 to public administration scholars and students, the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, in partnership with University of Delaware Charles P. Messick Chair of Public Administration Maria Aristigueta, last week renewed its efforts to work with college campuses across the country to solve one of the most pressing issues of our time.

“No one challenge creates a greater impact than revitalizing the middle class,” Mr. Biden stated during his opening keynote address. “The consequences of getting this right or wrong will matter to the families impacted here and around the world.”

Panelists throughout the day discussed a range of issues that affect, and are affected by, a shrinking middle class including budget priorities, economic growth, workforce dynamics and the role of innovation.

“Middle class isn’t just a number; it’s an idea,” Mr. Biden emphasized, as he enumerated myriad challenges related to public safety, home ownership, schooling, health care, caring for seniors and more. “Forty percent of working age people are struggling to make ends meet. Twenty percent of people have passed on health care because they can’t afford it. The brain power to solve this problem exists right now. It’s on you to figure it out.”

Throughout the day, participants listened to panels, held roundtable discussions, brainstormed ideas and talked through critical questions related to the day’s theme including, “How do you define the middle class?” “What can we teach today’s students that will encourage job growth?” and “What one idea was discussed today that you feel has the greatest potential to solve this problem?”

Participants ended the day with an overview of the ideas generated throughout the room, as well as next steps for continuing the conversation.

“This is not the end; it is just the beginning,” Maria Aristigueta noted as she closed out the final panel. “We will hold panels on this Challenge at events throughout the fall, and really focus on this subject at the ASPA Annual Conference next March. ASPA President Jane Pisano is making this discussion a priority for her event and we will be holding Presidential Panels and other discussions to generate even more ideas there.”

Those interested in more information about the Biden Institute can visit, find them on Twitter at and on Facebook at

Click on the below link to view a video clip of Vice President Biden’s remarks at the opening networking reception, which took place Thursday, Sept. 27.

Vice President Biden remarks at Biden Challenge.

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