MIT admissions dean resigns

Marilee Jones
Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speaks to Information Services and Technology staff on campus in Cambridge, Mass., in 2006.Chitose Suzuki / AP/file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Marilee Jones, a prominent crusader against the pressure on students to build their resumes for elite colleges, resigned Thursday as dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after acknowledging she had misrepresented her own academic credentials.

Jones has been a popular speaker on the college admissions circuit, where she urged parents not to press their kids too hard, and told students there are more important things than getting into the most prestigious colleges. She rewrote MIT’s application, trying to get students to reveal more about their personalities and passions, and de-emphasizing lists of their accomplishments.

But Jones, dean since 1997, issued a statement saying she had misrepresented her credentials when she first came to work at MIT 28 years ago and “did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since.

“I am deeply sorry for this and for disappointing so many in the MIT community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities,” she said, adding she would have no further comment.

No word on actual degrees
MIT spokeswoman Patti Richards said Jones has at various times claimed to have degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Albany Medical College. But Richards had no immediate information on what degrees Jones actually has or how the matter was uncovered.

Jason Gorss, a spokesman for RPI, said Jones attended that university as a part-time, non-matriculating student from September 1974 until June 1975 but did not receive a degree. Messages left for officials at the other two schools were not immediately returned.

Jones stuck out on the MIT campus with her shock of red hair and blunt talk, and she attracted attention with her campaign to reduce the pressure college applicants from the bully pulpit of a campus famous for its overachievers. She is the co-author of a 2006 book “Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond.”

“We’re raising a generation of kids trained to please adults,” Jones told The Associated Press in a profile published last year. “Every day kids should have time when they’re doing something where they’re not being judged. That’s the big difference with this generation. They’re being judged and graded and analyzed and assessed at every turn. It’s too much pressure for them.”

Dean of Undergraduate Education Daniel Hastings announced Jones’ resignation in an e-mail to MIT.

“This is a sad and unfortunate event,” he said. “But the integrity of the Institute is our highest priority, and we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior.”

Lloyd Thacker, founder of The Education Conservancy, a group that is also trying to tone down admissions anxiety, said he was saddened by the announcement.

“She’s had a positive impact in the lives of many students and families and has brought inspiration to the profession,” Thacker said. “What’s happened in no ways discredits the value of her work and her unwavering commitment to helping students, and I sincerely hope she’s able to continue with that cause.”