North Central College in the News

North Central College political science professor pens op-ed in History News Network

Feb 02, 2021

Dr. Suzanne Chod authored article on First Lady Jill Biden’s doctorate degree

Dr. Suzanne Chod, associate professor of political science at North Central College, penned an op-ed in the History News Network. The column, published December 20, 2020, focused on the now First Lady Jill Biden’s doctoral degree and Joseph’s Epstein’s dismal of the meaning of ‘Dr.’ as it relates to doctoral degrees, which was discussed in his op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal.

Here is an excerpt from her op-ed:

“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.” 

By now, most have either read or read about Joseph Epstein’s Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.” Mr. Epstein asserts that the meaning of a doctoral degree has been lost over time because it has become so much easier to get one. The author, though, never earned one himself. He laments throughout his article about how he was regularly called “Dr.” but rejects the title. As he says to Dr. Biden directly, “A wise man once said that no one should call himself ‘Dr.’ unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.” He mocked Dr. Biden’s dissertation as “unpromising,” by not only including the title, “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs,” but pointing out the fact that she earned it from a state school, the University of Delaware. For a field he is eviscerating as elitist, he sure seems to be one himself. Mr. Epstein, your snobbery (and hypocrisy) is showing. 

The Wall Street Journal editorial page editor, Paul Gigot, defended Mr. Epstein’s article saying “There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism.” Mr. Gigot accused the Democratic Party generally, and the Biden-Harris team specifically, of orchestrating outrage, asking, “Why go to such lengths to highlight a single op-ed on a relatively minor issue?” Claiming misogyny is a minor issue is not new, and I suppose this one case of this one article’s overtly misogynistic content might not get so much attention. However, this is not simply a case of a privileged, elitist, condescending op-ed in a major newspaper. It is endemic of the systemic and institutional sexism in both our country and academia. This one person’s hot take on Dr. Jill Biden is not what really drove Michelle Obama to post on social media about this, it did not create the wave of women posting about their doctorates. 

Click here to read the full op-ed in the History News Network.

Dr. Suzanne Chod