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Canadian university alters ‘Dr.’ policy in wake of Jill Biden controversy

In the wake of the brouhaha over Jill Biden’s use of the title “Dr,” the University of British Columbia has changed its policy and now will refer to all holders of doctorates by that very title.

After former Northwestern University adjunct Joseph Epstein chided Joe Biden’s wife for using “Dr.” before her name (and making others do the same) because she has a doctorate in education (EdD), debate ensued across the media and social media alike.

Many, mostly on the left, thought Epstein’s remarks were “misogynistic” and “sexist,” while those familiar with what an EdD requires largely agreed with him.

Some in influential positions didn’t even know the exact nature of Mrs. Biden’s degree.

According to the Western Standard, until the current controversy it wasn’t standard practice at U. British Columbia to use “Dr.” to refer to its PhDs, let alone EdDs. It appears a mathematics professor bringing up the issue led to school officials making a change:

In a December 17 press release, the university said media and institutions have pondered how to recognize academic credentials “in recent years.” Traditionally, UBC has followed Canadian Press standards which use “Dr.” only for “licensed health care professionals” such as physicians and dentists.

Now, however, the university will use that title in all UBC press materials in the name of “equity, diversity and inclusion.”

— The title Dr. will be used in front of the names of any faculty, staff member or postdoctoral scholar who has been awarded a doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia, or other post-secondary institutions

— The title Dr. will be used in all references throughout the text. E.g. “Dr. Jane Smith” on first reference and “Dr. Smith” on additional references

— If the person wishes to use their UBC title rather than the title Dr., we will defer to their preference. E.g. “Prof. John Smith, who teaches in the faculty of education”

“[W]e have a great deal of respect for members of our academic community who have demonstrated the ability and perseverance needed to obtain a doctoral degree, the highest level of academic credential,” the statement says.

Read the Western Standard article and UBC press release.

MORE: Demanding status for menial accomplishments

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.