Vice President Joe Biden smiles during a ceremony Jan. 12 in the State Dining Room of the White House, where President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Former vice president Joe Biden will lead two new academic centers in his first role after leaving office, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware announced Tuesday, spanning both foreign and domestic policy.

He will head the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, which will open in Washington this year with a focus on diplomacy, foreign policy and national security.

“At Penn, I look forward to building on the work that has been a central pillar of my career in public office: promoting and protecting the post-WWII international order that keeps the United States safe and strong,” Biden said in a statement.

He will also have an office on Penn’s main campus in Philadelphia, and he has been named the Benjamin Franklin presidential practice professor with appointments in both the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, with a secondary affiliation in the Wharton School.

“Joe Biden is one of the greatest statesmen of our times,” Amy Gutmann, the president of Penn, said in a written statement. “In his distinguished career of service to our nation, he has demonstrated a unique capacity to bring people together across divides and to craft constructive responses to some of the toughest and most important policy challenges of our day. His unsurpassed understanding of diplomacy and far-ranging grasp of world issues make him an ideal fit to further Penn’s global engagement.”

Biden has a long connection to Penn; his late son Beau, his daughter Ashley and granddaughter Naomi are all graduates of the Ivy League university.

“Most students are very excited about Vice President Biden’s new relationship with Penn,” Kat McKay, a senior majoring in economics who is president of Penn’s Undergraduate Assembly, wrote in an email Tuesday. “His previous visit to campus on Election Day really energized and excited the student body.

“We are still waiting for more details to emerge about how often and to what extent Vice President Biden will engage with undergraduates, but my hope is that students will have many opportunities to learn from and work with the vice president.”

Meanwhile, at the University of Delaware, his alma mater, Biden will focus on domestic policy.

As founding chairman of the Biden Institute, he will lead researchers developing public policy solutions to issues such as civil rights, criminal justice, women’s rights and the environment.

“We’re very excited about this new relationship with Joe Biden, one of our most distinguished and loyal alumni,” University President Dennis Assanis said in a statement. “His vast experience as a public servant for more than 40 years will bring an important focus to many domestic policy matters to enhance the broader portfolio of programs within our school of public policy.”

Biden said in a statement, “Every day of my career in public service has been motivated by the desire to ensure that every American is treated with dignity and gets a fair shot.”

As vice president for eight years, Biden was deeply involved in diplomacy in the Western Hemisphere, the Middle East and Ukraine, implementation of a massive stimulus package, issues facing the middle class and attempts to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence and cancer.

Biden served as a senator from Delaware for 36 years, including 17 years as either chairman or ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a dozen years as either chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.