I’ve been thinking about the Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal regarding Dr. Jill Biden’s title. The author tells her to stop using “Dr.” because that title should be reserved for medical doctors only. He further argues that while she holds an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education), she should just be happy to be called the “First Lady” because the title "Dr." is fraudulent and frivolous. You can read it and judge for yourself his tone and advice.
Earning a doctorate is a huge endeavor that requires sacrifice, persistence, fortitude, and grit. It takes years of courses, years of research, time away from families and friends, and a commitment to educate oneself to make a difference. And yet, in higher education circles, an Ed.D. is often still seen as less than a Ph.D. Perhaps, the idea is that an Ed.D. focuses on administration rather than philosophy and therefore is not as rigorous. I can attest to the rigor in my program, but it is unfortunate that there will always be groups that try to diminish accomplishments of others.
In my experience, as I earned my Ed.D., I chose to go into a field that would allow me to learn more about how higher education administration works so that I could make a difference in how we think about HE. I took three years of courses that dealt with leadership models, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, HE finance and business, student affairs, strategic planning, etc. Ultimately, I wrote my dissertation on how philanthropy shapes HE institutional priorities and interviewed presidents and staff. I chose my program based on the idea that my knowledge, both experiential and scholarly, would assist me in my future goals.
Some of my friends and colleagues are outraged by the article and others stop at their political ideology and dismiss the Op-Ed. I am not outraged that someone would think a Ph.D./Ed.D. is less than a medical doctor, they are simply different and someone who compares the two lacks understanding of those differences. My friends who earned an M.D. deserve every bit of their title and help make the world a better place. I earned every bit of my Ed.D. and I will continue to try to make the world a better place. We are fighting the same fight, in our own circles.
I celebrate the fact that more people are choosing to get an education AND I celebrate how so many people are choosing to learn trade skills to better our world. We are all needed to make a difference and in all instances, the more educated you are in your field, the better you will do. I appreciate being called Dr. Realivasquez because it acknowledges my career path, and I appreciate being called Yvonne because I am simply me, trying to make a difference. I do not appreciate someone trying to diminish achievements that take perseverance and commitment. I will not let the small-minded thoughts of others determine my path in life, and I hope you do not either.
Guest Blog from Dr. Yvonne Parras Realivasquez
Associate Vice President for Strategic Engagement at Sul Ross State University