Dr. Jill Biden will be the first FLOTUS with a full-time job outside of the White House

Democratic National Convention - Day 2

Dr. Jill Biden, our FLOTUS-Elect, has been an educator/professor for decades. Even when her husband was Vice President, Dr. Jill taught at a community college. I always heard that her students loved her, and honestly, even if you didn’t know she was a teacher already, you could guess it. She has such a Nice Teacher Vibe. Well, in August, we also heard that if Joe Biden was elected president, Dr. Jill wanted to continue teaching, continue working, even as FLOTUS. Now there’s a confirmation of that: she will continue to teach at the same community college she’s worked at for years.

The incoming administration is historic for a number of reasons. Among them is that the soon-to-be first lady of the United States has already established a decidedly different approach to her new role. Unlike her predecessors, Jill Biden plans to continue working her day job while in the White House, marking a momentous departure from the position of past first ladies. Biden, who is a long-standing English professor at Northern Virginia Community College and holds several degrees including a doctorate, plans to continue teaching while serving the country as first lady.

Of the 45 women who will have preceded her, none have maintained a professional and full-time career while in the White House.

“They confined their activities to being first lady,” said Myra Gutin, a first lady historian and professor of communication at Rider University. “So, this is very special. It’s very different.”

There is no official job description for the first lady, Gutin explained, adding that each woman defines the role uniquely. Typically, the first lady covers three central areas in her work: ceremonial, political and advocacy. But unlike those before her, Biden will be splitting her time between her responsibilities as an educator and the first lady. (Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a daily column for years, including during her time in the White House, but that work wasn’t full-time, says Gutin. And any money Roosevelt earned was donated.)

“She is very much reflective of the 21st century,” Gutin said. “And whenever the presidential spouse does something like this, it’s always going to open up new possibilities.”

An enduring educator, Biden’s decision to pause her teaching work during her husband’s campaign was the first time she took a break from her job since 1981, when their daughter, Ashley, was born. Now that the tumultuous campaign season has drawn to a close and the couple is primed to move into the White House in January, Biden intends to get back to work.

[From The Lily]

The Lily’s piece is full of quotes from women applauding Dr. Jill’s decision to keep her job and continue working. I agree, but I would assume that her professorship IS part-time? What’s a full-time professor at a community college these days, four or five classes a semester? I would imagine Dr. Jill will maybe only teach two or three classes, and she’ll probably try to schedule them for Tuesday-Thursday maybe? I don’t know.

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41 Responses to “Dr. Jill Biden will be the first FLOTUS with a full-time job outside of the White House”

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  1. Anna says:

    Love this! I agree: kindness just seems to glow all around her. And as an aside, this green suit is a gorgeous color on her. I really appreciate her fashion choices. Look forward to seeing how she manages continuing her job, being FLOTUS (very excited about Joe’s emphasis on her support for education, teachers, veterans and their families, and health), and introducing her particular style and flair from a place of beauty and care for others.

    • minx says:

      She really does glow. Just a lovely, intelligent person, I’m so thrilled she will be our FLOTUS.

    • Courtney B says:

      She and my aunt were friendly in college (both education majors) and she has nothing but good things to say about her.

  2. ME says:

    Complete opposite of Melania who did sh*t all during the past 4 years.

    • Elizabeth Phillips says:

      She destroyed an historic rose garden and came up with crazy-ugly Christmas decoration schemes. That took a little work.

    • Lizzie says:

      No one can name even one interest Mel has aside from fashion. I submit scouting for rich old husband number 2 is a new interest.

  3. Mika says:

    Good. It is NOT NORMAL to expect the spouse of the Head of Government to be a part of that government. It’s something that the United States does that I find extremely weird – almost as if it were borrowed from Royal traditions.

    • Becks1 says:

      I think its weird, but I think its mainly just a holdover from two centuries ago, when women didn’t work (at least not women whose husbands were running for president), so the First Lady did just naturally take over the running of the White House and the hosting of dinners and such. And then it gradually evolved into being this huge full time job at some point along the way.

      I remember an interview with Michelle Obama around the time she was leaving the WH – about how much work it was and she was like, “and by the way, you don’t get paid for it,” and that stuck with me because we do expect our first ladies to have these big causes and to travel and all that and there is no pay for that.

      So if Dr. Biden working as a professor means that she scales back on some of the first lady duties, or changes what is expected of FLOTUS, I’m completely fine with that. I mean Melania did nothing for four years and people were apparently fine with that, lol.

  4. tempest prognosticator says:

    Right on!

  5. SO Dumb says:

    I hope it’s safe for her too
    Do that these people are wing buts out here calling fraud and buying guns threatening war

  6. RoSco says:

    I love it, they just seem like a lovely couple, both of them. I am excited for the next four years, starting in late January 2021.

  7. Myra says:

    It must be really hard for professional women to sacrifice their identity in support of their husband’s work. I’m glad she gets to retain hers and not lose herself in the process. I remember Michelle Obama touching on this once. I say, good for her.

    • Mignionette says:

      Doug Emhoff has also paused his career to support Kamala.

      I think he will be working reduced capacity as a Lawyer whilst she is in office.

  8. BethAnne says:

    I watched an interview last night of her and Michelle Obama towards the end 2016, she was so lovely! And the warm relationship between her and Michelle was so authentic. Apparently she used to grade her papers on the plane when they had to fly somewhere for official duties.

    • Dtab says:

      I remember this story and as a college lecturer myself, I always admired her for her commitment to her students when she could have just sat back and enjoyed the perks of her husbands job.

  9. L84Tea says:

    As the wife of a teacher, I am very excited to have Jill Biden as the First Lady. I’m not expecting her to change education or save the world, but having someone connected to the president who is a teacher and GETS IT and what it’s all about, cannot be a bad thing at all.

  10. TeamAwesome says:

    As a community college instructor who spent 7 years as an adjunct in search of a full time position, my first thought was heck yes woman, hold on to that tenure!

  11. S808 says:

    I’m glad! I hate Michelle had to basically give her identity and career outside of being Barack’s wife and the First Lady. I hope she’ll be able to maintain a healthy balance.

    • AMA1977 says:

      I think part of the difference is that Michelle and Barack had young children in a pressure-cooker situation, and Michelle knew that she had to be a full-time Mom to keep them safe/healthy because Dad was running the country. Jill and Joe’s kids are grown, so there doesn’t need to be the stabilizing/always available parent there for the kids. I applaud both women for doing what they do, gracefully and with great care. And I am glad that Michelle has more time for herself now, and that Barack (of course!!) supports that 100%.

      • Resi says:

        I also think that it would have not been acceptable for Michelle to do because she was already under so much scrutiny from being the first black first lady. Anything out of the norm would have been a more than welcome occasion for the right-wing media to attack her.

  12. Ann says:

    This seems very doable with video classes. Her being physically at a college would be very disruptive but with all the video technology available now this is so much more manageable.

    I feel so hopeful reading this. What a remarkable difference. There is so much good that can come of this. Dr. Biden can set such a powerful example of how to make education work during a global crisis. Finally some friggin hope! Man did I need this. Man did we need this!

    • holly hobby says:

      Community colleges do offer online courses and I can see her doing those type of classes – where she doesn’t go in physically. My kid has been taking concurrent community college classes while he is in high school and all those classes are online.

  13. Anna says:

    Dr. Jill for Education secretary!

  14. jessamine says:

    This makes me so warm and happy. When she earned her PhD there were all these stories about how Joe was sooo genuinely amazingly proud of her and made it a point to constantly introduce her to everyone as *DR* Jill Biden and it’s always meant a lot to me that even when her husband’s connections could have secured her a board or faculty position basically anywhere she’s chosen to teach at a community college. Just two people committed to each other and committed to doing good in the world.

  15. StillInPJs says:

    I’ve taught university classes for a few semesters, and two classes a semester feels very full time to me. Adjuncts are expected to devote an insane amount of their lives to teaching for little pay, so while many community college faculty have to teach 4 or more classes a semester, let me tell you that is a huge burden. If Dr. Biden teaches one class a semester and does any other “ceremonial” FLOTUS duties, that’s as much as any tenured professor is expected to do as FT faculty.

    • Noodle says:

      @stillinpjs, I am full time faculty at a university and we teach eight courses a year. What constitutes full time vs part time depends on the length of courses, how many terms, etc. With most FT faculty, though, it’s not teaching courses that is so time consuming. It’s the meetings, the committees, the course development and revision, the research and publishing, and all the extra administration tasks we take on. For every hour I spend “teaching” (including grading, student emails, etc), I spend two hours on the other stuff. I can totally see Dr Biden staying on as PT teaching faculty, but I can’t imagine she would be taking on the extra tasks expected of faculty when she is First Lady.

  16. Mina_Esq says:

    Just more reason to admire her. I love how protective she is of her family. It really underscores how gross the transactional nature of Melania and Donald’s relationship is.

  17. Tom says:

    I hope she’s going to teach distance. Otherwise, what’s the commute like and how much will it and security cost taxpayers and inconvenience other commuters and fellow teachers and staff?

    • Krystina says:

      Considering she didn’t quit being a teacher when Joe was VP, Chances are good they already have an idea of how to pull it off.

  18. Leah says:

    It will be a nice change from the aspiring porn star turned gold digger turned birther who turned the office of flouts into a joke.

    Dr Biden is well educated, and she believes that education is important to the county. The republicans want to keep the populace ignorant, angry and needful so they are not fans of education. That was obvious when they and their minions were running around on the net devaluating people with college degrees and screaming “learn a trade”. Learning a trade is fine and good but if we were just a nation of electricians and plumbers there would be no room for doctors, nurses, teachers, psychologists and scientists. For those jobs you need a college degree because you can’t go to trade school to learn how to be an MD.

    Also, she and Joe respect tradition and history so that’s good news for Jackie’s mangled rose garden.

    • Lizzie says:

      May I add of questionable immigration documentation. Anyone remember the bloated orange one saying Mel would have a press conference to prove her documents were above board?

  19. OriginalLala says:

    As a fellow PhD, I have to say I love that people respect her Dr title and refer to her as such. I can’t tell you how often my male colleagues are called Dr So-and-S0 and I’m referred to as Ms Lala.

  20. Molly says:

    Dr. Jill has been a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009. She famously taught full time while Joe was VP (many just knew her as Dr. B and how now idea she was Second Lady), and I’m thrilled she’s still teaching now.

  21. FilmTurtle says:

    It’s going to have to be virtual teaching, right? It would otherwise be a huge disruption to have to sweep her classroom every single time, not to mention, as someone noted upthread, the motorcade and Secret Service, etc.

    I think this is GREAT and fully support this in all kinds of ways. But, if I had a kid, I’d think twice about having them attend — and that would be in a normal year. But with so many triggered MAGAs who believe the election was stolen and that Soros is paying for mind-control through the media, etc.?

  22. Lizzie says:

    I wish Joe would replace Betsy Devos with Jill.

    • NightOwl says:

      Well, while Jill would be very much an upgrade, I’d love to see the White House rid of nepotism for awhile.

  23. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    She’s the type of First lady (I hate that term) that America needs as a role model!

  24. Mask4mask says:

    That seems like a security nightmare to have her continue to teach, specially after Trump’s fascism encouraged his repugnant cult members to plan kidnappings and harm democrat women in positions of power. Seems like a foolish and selfish choice to expose herself and her students and college to potential violence of the very violent unhinged Trump supporting right wing.

  25. Eugh says:

    She’s so wonderful. I think she has a fantastic sense of humor also. She once hid in the luggage compartment of Air Force two and scared someone when they opened the door

  26. Maria says:

    Tenure-track community college prof here! I teach three classes a quarter, which comes out to nine a year (and sometimes a summer class). Even without the research requirement that most university professors have, I am still stupid busy (like 60+ hour work weeks) and I imagine Dr. Biden would probably go part-time to one class.