Marilee Jones, a prominent crusader against the pressure on students to build their resumes for elite colleges, resigned yesterday as dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after acknowledging she had misrepresented her academic credentials.
Jones has been a popular speaker on the college admissions circuit, where she urged parents not to press their children too hard and told students there were 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 deemphasizing lists of accomplishments.
But Jones, a 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 more comment.
MIT chancellor Phil Clay said in a telephone interview that another MIT dean had received a phone call questioning Jones' credentials, prompting an inquiry that took several days. It found that Jones had claimed at various times to have degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Albany Medical College, but in fact had no degrees from any of those institutions. Clay said MIT was unaware that Jones had any undergraduate or graduate degree.
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. Officials at the two other schools said she had never been a student there.
"It represents a very long deception when there were opportunities to correct the record," Clay said. "This is not a mistake or an oversight."
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 on 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.