Friday, April 27, 2007

A liar retires

MIT's dean of admissions since 1997, Marilee Jones, handed in her forced resignation yesterday -- she lied on her resume and built that into a 28-year career from entry-level worker in the admissions office to the dean at one of the two top tech universities in the US. Here are the key facts:

Ms. Jones, 55, originally from Albany, had on various occasions represented herself as having degrees from three upstate New York institutions: Albany Medical College, Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In fact, she had no degrees from any of those places, or anywhere else, M.I.T. officials said.

A spokesman for Rensselaer said Ms. Jones had not graduated there, though she did attend as a part-time nonmatriculated student during the 1974-75 school year. The other colleges said they had no record of her.

What a disgrace. Her mea culpa is full of the post-modern crud that passes for mental acumen in these intellectually degraded times:

"I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to M.I.T. 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my résumé when I applied for my current job or at any time since,” Ms. Jones said in a statement posted on the institute’s Web site. “I am deeply sorry for this and for disappointing so many in the M.I.T. community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities.”

What a steaming pile of manure!

Lack of courage?


She lacked honesty and integrity when she initially applied to work at MIT (for a job that likely did not require a college degree back in 1979, according to the school's current chancellor). Given her lower position then, she could have rectified her credentials by coming clean after her supervisors had gotten to know and like her, worked her way through night school or some other program if she wanted a new post that would require collegiate credentials, and likely have been welcomed back with open arms more than 20 years ago. After all, she had only lied to gain a low-level job and likely had not had the opportunities to obtain a college education -- that would all have been understood to some degree by the school.

Instead, she laid low, worked within the system, played the academic political game and applied for a job in 1997 that SHE KNEW she could not obtain with a true resume. Thus, she submitted a false one. She lied. She did so knowingly, intentionally, and for the purpose of furthering her career. That's not a lack of courage to correct a resume, it's a fraud.

The chancellor made the right call by obtaining her resignation:

“There are some mistakes people can make for which ‘I’m sorry’ can be accepted, but this is one of those matters where the lack of integrity is sufficient all by itself,” Professor Clay said. “This is a very sad situation for her and for the institution. We have obviously placed a lot of trust in her.”

The worst thing about all this is that Ms. Jones seemed to have been a positive for the school while she was there: she helped recruit female applicants, and MIT now has nearly a 50/50 ratio (in 1988 when my classmates went there, it was 75/25 to 70/30 or so male/female). She has also worked to minimize the cutthroat aspects of competition to get into elite institutions like MIT.

To that end, she co-wrote the book Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond, which "had added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy." Which leads us back to the final irony:

“Less Stress, More Success” addresses not only the pressure to be perfect but also a need to live with integrity.

“Holding integrity is sometimes very hard to do because the temptation may be to cheat or cut corners,” it says. “But just remember that ‘what goes around comes around,’ meaning that life has a funny way of giving back what you put out.”


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