MIT admissions dean resigns

Massachusetts Institute of Technology admissions dean Marilee Jones, famous for her attempts to reduce the pressure facing students in the college admissions process, resigned Monday when the school discovered she had committed the most cardinal sin of the college admissions profession: lying on a resume.

Jones had put degrees she never earned on her application when she was first hired by MIT as an administrative assistant in 1979, and declined to correct claims about her credentials in the years since. The school says it has no evidence she ever graduated from college.

“It represents a very, very long deception, when there were opportunities to correct the record,” MIT Chancellor Phil Clay said. “This is not a mistake or an accident or an oversight.”

A dean at MIT received a phone call questioning Jones’ claims of having degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Albany Medical College, spurring an internal inquiry which determined she didn’t have a degree from any of them. Jones did attend RPI as a part-time student for one year, RPI spokesman Jason Gorss said, but she was not given a degree.

During the time she led the MIT admissions office Jones won accolades from parents and college counselors for her effort to turn down the heat on teens applying to college. She was responsible for reducing the number of lines on the MIT application for students to write extracurricular activities because she believed students felt pressure to fill all ten lines to gain admission.

Last year, Jones gave speeches around the country to promote a book she co-wrote a book with a pediatrician entitled, “Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond.”

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

Jones gave a presentation to parents at Junior Parents College Night in January 2005 and 2006 at Harvard-Westlake about how parents should coach their children during the college admissions process.

“The sad thing is, we really liked her,” Coordinator of Deans’ Office Maureen Altman said.

In a statement posted on the MIT website, Jones said she is “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.”