Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Jill Biden, July 4, 2019

I don’t know Matt Bethlehemanti whose recent tweets eviscerating First Lady-Elect Jill Biden’s doctoral dissertation are the latest viral hit on the right. He has only 903 followers, but this number will probably skyrocket after his harsh treatment of Mrs. Biden.

The dissertation/executive position paper, “Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students’ Needs,” by Jill Jacobs-Biden, was submitted to the faculty of the University of Delaware in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education with a major in Educational Leadership in the fall of 2006.


According to the abstract, “This Executive Position Paper (EPP) studies student retention in the community college and Delaware Technical & Community College in particular. The paper focuses on four areas of students’ needs: academic, psychological, social, and physical.

“An overview of the paper is given, and an introduction to Delaware Technical & Community College is presented. First, the nature of the pre-tech (developmental) population is discussed. Then, a literature review offers current research by experts in the field. In addition, the results from pre-tech students, faculty, and advisor surveys and interviews are analyzed. Statistical information underscores the problem of retaining students, and personal accounts from students provide insight as to why students drop out. Overall, problem areas are identified, and recommendations and solutions are offered and encouraged.”

Here’s Matt Bethlehemanti’s Twitter critique. He was not kind:

Keep in mind that at this point in her life, Mrs. Biden was a grown woman who had been married for a cumulative 30+ years to various people.

“Three quarters of the class will be Caucasian; one quarter of the class will be African American…the remaining seats will be filled with students of Asian descent or non-resident aliens.”

“Although there is strength in diversity as a classroom component, the lack of homogeneity in academic ability makes it difficult to teach to a single standard.”

“Admission to the College is open to all Delaware residents who have a high school education or its equivalent or to anyone who is eighteen years of age or older and
able to benefit from instruction.”

“The unique nature of the classroom allows for a complexity of problems as well.” this person expects, on the basis of this effort, to be called “doctor.”

“Many universities and colleges did not eliminate the freshman and sophomore years.” No [expletive]. Please tell me more, doctor.

“With a new president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Americans were offered the New Deal, and thousands of dollars were put into federal emergency junior college funds.” Upwards of two thousand.

So much for the quality of Biden’s doctoral work. In a December 11 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Joseph Epstein suggested that Jill Biden should stop using the academic title “Dr.,” which she earned as a Doctor of Education, saying that it “feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”

Epstein, who is 83, opened (Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.): “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” 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.”

Northwestern University and its English department (where he worked as a visiting adjunct lecturer from 1974 till 2002) each released a statement condemning Epstein’s opinion. The University wrote, “Northwestern is firmly committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, and strongly disagrees with Mr. Epstein’s misogynistic views.” The university also removed Epstein’s page from its website, where he had been listed as an emeritus lecturer of English.

Finally, Matthew Walther, National correspondent for The Week and editor of the Lamp magazine added his five cents’ worth:

“To all of you who got [expletive] degrees when you were over the age of 50 out of boredom, I’m so sorry for your pain. All the work of writing a fake dissertation is so valid and I am so proud of you. How dare an octogenarian Jewish essayist punch down at the wife of a president!”

He then added: “If Melania Trump had an Ed.D. and insisted upon being referred to as ‘Dr. Trump,’ the same peoples feigning outrage would laugh her out of the room. And rightly so. This is a propaganda campaign by the Biden people, and all the usual suspects are playing along. Life is short.”

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