DSU President Allen to lead Biden inauguration committee
DOVER – Delaware State University President Tony Allen will head President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration committee, according to a Monday announcement.
Allen’s role in overseeing the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit organization and separate entity from the Biden-Harris transition team charged with planning and executing activities surrounding the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony, is one of the highest profile appointments of a Delawarean in the Biden presidency’s activities to date. Allen’s selection does not come as a complete surprise though.
He helped in the planning of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which was officially held in Milwaukee but was largely completed in Wilmington. Allen is also a longtime confidant and former speechwriter for the former vice president and U.S. senator from Delaware.
“I’ve known and loved the Biden family for 25 years and am deeply humbled to help organize the historic inauguration of a good and decent patriot during an unprecedented time in our country. As the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden alongside Kamala Harris, the first woman of color to be elected Vice President of the United States, will work hard for all Americans and lead us towards our nation’s highest calling — ‘a more perfect union,’” Allen said in a statement announcing his appointment. “This year’s inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe.”
The Biden-Harris transition team was careful to say that Allen was serving in a personal capacity and not representing the historically black university that he took over in January.
Allen has led Delaware’s second largest college through the pandemic and embarked on an aggressive COVID-19 testing program that has helped keep its Dover campus open to students despite the rising number of cases in Delaware and nationwide.
In a Monday afternoon statement, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) applauded Allen’s appointment.
“I have known Tony for 25 years, and he is a terrific choice to help bring Delaware to D.C. and to bring the excitement of the Biden-Harris ticket to the American people through the inauguration,” Coons said. “This will be a difficult inauguration to pull off as we confront the realities of the pandemic. Fortunately, as Tony’s strong leadership at DSU has already shown, he can both innovate in tough times and deliver real results. He’s a great choice to lead this important committee.”
Also being named to the committee Monday were Maju Varghese, chief operating officer and senior advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign; Erin Wilson, the Biden-Harris campaign’s national political director; and Yvanna Cancelea, a Nevada state senator who was one of Biden’s earliest elected supporters.
The transition team also announced the inauguration’s official website and store at BidenInaugural.org.
The Inauguration Day ceremony traditionally held on the steps of the U.S. Capitol brings out hundreds of thousands of people to witness the president take the oath of office. It is unlikely that such a crowd will be allowed to witness the swearing in of the first Delawarean to the White House, however, with the event scheduled for less than two months away and the nation seeing a record number of COVID-19 cases this winter. The Biden-Harris team has stressed caution and safety amid the pandemic and held the DNC ceremony this past summer entirely online despite lower transmission rates.
By Jacob Owens