• December 21, 2014

Truth and Admissions: Former MIT Dean Seeks to Reclaim Her Name

Marilee Jones

Corey Wascinski for The Chronicle

Marilee Jones says that when her lie about her credentials was exposed, she finally became herself.

For weeks Marilee Jones has rehearsed the words. The night she stands before an audience once again, she will share some advice on applying to college. She will describe how growth comes from failure. And she will talk about the lie that made her infamous.

Ms. Jones, former dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, resigned in 2007 after admitting that she fabricated her credentials nearly three decades earlier. She said in a press release that she had lacked "courage" to correct her résumé, which listed degrees from three institutions; she had not graduated from any of them. A roar of publicity followed. Then, the nation's most outspoken admissions dean vanished without a word.

Where Ms. Jones went was not so much another place as another time. Her past opened up and her future closed. In between were days that went nowhere and connected to nothing. The woman who had talked to hundreds of people a week stayed in touch with only a few. She had nobody to confront but herself.

After losing one of the top jobs in college admissions, Ms. Jones, 58, says she found something more important—humility. She describes her fall as a blessing, the moment when she finally became herself. "Everybody has a shadow side they're running away from," she says. "If you can't face your shadow side, you project it onto everybody around you."

In a series of recent interviews with The Chronicle, Ms. Jones described living with a lie for many years, what she's done since leaving MIT, and how she plans to restore her reputation. As a dean, she gave hundreds of talks, preaching calm to anxious applicants. To reclaim that role, she has re-emerged as a consultant, one who hopes to advise high-school students and their parents, as well as college enrollment officials.

Recently, Ms. Jones arranged to speak at Montclair High School, in New Jersey. How spectators would respond to her first public appearance since she left admissions, she could only guess. She worried that someone would stand up and say something like, "You lied. Why should we believe you?"

It would be a reasonable question. After all, Ms. Jones was the gatekeeper at one of the nation's most prestigious institutions, which, like any college, expects honesty of its applicants, students, and scholars. She rose to the top of a realm where a diploma is sacred. To claim a degree one did not earn is to sin against an entire system.

Ms. Jones says what she did was wrong. She also says she has forgiven herself for what she describes as mistakes made by a younger, much different woman. She hopes that people will weigh the lies she told against the work she did and see the difference.

Nonetheless, forgiveness alone won't make her telephone ring. Although her message about admissions still resonates in the field, is it enough to redeem the messenger?

For a long time, questions like that froze Ms. Jones right where she stood, retired and anonymous. Then one day something changed, she says: "I decided that I wanted my name back."

The Path to Cambridge

Growing up in Albany, Marilee Jones learned that service to others was a necessity. Her father, Pete Jones, instructed his five children to fetch groceries for elderly neighbors and shovel walkways when it snowed. Mr. Jones, who worked at the Albany Felt Company, was known for helping people all over town. Often they would thank him by leaving bags of homemade treats—brownies and baklava—at the family's front door.

Behind that door, he was hard to live with, Ms. Jones says. She describes her late father as a disciplinarian who was constantly angry. Her parents often told her not to ask so many questions. Growing up, she felt confined. "I didn't want to be who I was," she says. "So I imagined myself being in other places, doing other things."

Going away to college was not something people in her neighborhood even talked about, so in 1969 she enrolled at the College of Saint Rose, a Roman Catholic institution in Albany, and continued to live with her family. On the campus she felt as lost as she did at home.

Drinking and drugs were not her escape, Ms. Jones says. Instead, she worked. Cleaning offices, selling handbags, hooking patients up to EKG machines at the hospital. She also worked as a certified emergency medical technician, riding in ambulances from 3 p.m. to 11. After graduating with a degree in biology in 1973, she was unhappy and restless. So she saved money for a trip to Europe and the Middle East, where for months she trekked, alone.

In 1978, Ms. Jones arrived in Cambridge, Mass., with a new husband, Steven, a graduate student at MIT. The couple moved into a dormitory, and Ms. Jones often stayed up all night, talking to students about their lives.

One day she saw an advertisement for a job—an assistant to MIT's director of admissions. She says she remembers wearing a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress and sandals to the interview, but not much about the interview itself. Nor does she recall the moment she wrote down on a form that she had attended Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. MIT officials have said that Ms. Jones added a degree from Albany Medical College after she was hired. Ms. Jones does not dispute that account, but says she cannot remember that detail, either.

In the fog of those moments lies a mystery. Why Ms. Jones did not state that she had, in fact, graduated from Saint Rose is something that she may never understand. She says it might have been because she worried that the college would not impress anyone at MIT. Or because, as a young feminist, she rejected the Catholic Church and did not want to acknowledge that she had attended a Catholic college. Or because she doubted herself.

"I was screwed up," she says. "I was very, very angry. It was probably a lot of different things. It was a top-of-my-head decision, like, OK, I'm going to try this on. I just couldn't be myself. I wasn't good enough to be myself."

'This Monster Behind the Door'

By all accounts, Ms. Jones was good at her job, which she began in 1979. Her first assignment was to schedule speaking engagements at high schools, where female graduates of MIT would talk to young women about the importance of studying mathematics and science. Later Ms. Jones was responsible for recruiting women, as well as for outreach to international students. She enlisted more MIT students and alumni in recruitment and created a dynamic weekend campus-visit program, one of the first of its kind.

Michael C. Behnke, who was MIT's director of admissions from 1985 to 1997, says Ms. Jones deserves much of the credit for diversifying the undergraduate class. During his tenure, the proportion of women rose from 28 to 42 percent, and the proportion of minority students more than doubled, from 8.5 to 17.5 percent. Mr. Behnke describes Ms. Jones as a "terrific" colleague. "The two qualities she has in spades are passion and humor," he says. "She could be in your face without annoying you."

Early on, nearly all of Ms. Jones's colleagues were men. She recalls them smoking pipes during staff meetings and discussing how a particular applicant might benefit not only MIT, but also the nation. Some of her co-workers had been trained by B. Alden Thresher, director of admissions at MIT from 1936 to 1961. Mr. Thresher wrote an influential book called College Admissions and the Public Interest, a thoughtful study of the field, published in 1966.

Ms. Jones devoured the book, in which Mr. Thresher wrote that education must put students' interests above those of colleges. He also lamented that many applicants considered education a benefit that others would bestow on them, rather than something they would get for themselves. "This is the almost inevitable result," he wrote, "of the undue stress put upon affiliation with the 'right' college."

For many years, Ms. Jones tried not to think about her falsified credentials or examine her reasons for lying. For one, they did not seem to relate to her day-to-day work. "I knew I was good at what I was doing, and I was satisfied with that," she says. "There was this monster behind the door, and I knew if I turned around and looked at that, I would have hit the wall. I had the monster barricaded in, and I thought, I'm not going to let you out."

Ms. Jones knew that coming clean would mean losing her job and her career. She also feared that the news would harm her husband, who was a faculty member at MIT before working at the institute's Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center. Later, she worried about how the truth would affect her daughter, Nora. Neither knew that she had not attended the colleges listed on her résumé, Ms. Jones says.

Then in 1997 Mr. Behnke announced that he was leaving MIT. Ms. Jones, then associate director, felt ice run down her spine. She wanted the job, but what would happen if she submitted herself to the vetting process? She describes the dilemma as a "moral moment," when she could have chosen to correct the record. Instead, she applied for the job.

The hiring process took months. Ms. Jones says she gave MIT 14 references, but the degrees she had claimed went undiscovered. Although MIT officials declined to comment to The Chronicle for this article, the institute's chancellor, Phillip L. Clay, told The New York Times in 2007 that little effort had been made to verify her credentials. Perhaps it was just because Ms. Jones was a familiar face, having been in the office for almost 20 years.

When Ms. Jones finally got the job and the new title of dean, she was relieved, but that feeling did not linger. "It was still with me," she says of her past. Soon thereafter she started having arrhythmias and waking up with chest pains. She could not shake the thought that her lies had been unnecessary: her first job at MIT apparently did not require a degree. "I would have done exactly the same job if I had told the truth," Ms. Jones says. "I would have done exactly the same job and had no worry."

The worry grew worse as her name became more familiar. Over the years Ms. Jones became a sought-after speaker. Her message was that everyone involved in admissions needed to chill out for the sake of education, not to mention their sanity. She spoke to high-school students, parents, teachers, and principals all over the nation. She often received standing ovations from mothers and fathers who would line up to meet the guru with the bright red hair.

Some admissions deans scoffed at all this. After all, they knew that plenty of teenagers did not gnaw their nails off, dreading that an Ivy League college would reject them. The brand of angst Ms. Jones described did not plague every Zip code. Sure, applying to college is hard, but some believed there was nothing wrong with that.

Still, Ms. Jones impressed many observers. Jennifer Delahunty recalls hearing her speak at Sidwell Friends High School, in Washington, several years ago. "It was almost like a revival," says Ms. Delahunty, dean of admissions and financial aid at Kenyon College. "She's that good at communicating this message."

In 2006 that message arrived in a book called Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond, which Ms. Jones wrote with Kenneth R. Ginsburg, then an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine. The book examined the pressure to be perfect, casting college admissions as a mental-health issue.

In one passage, Ms. Jones described an epiphany she had one night while visiting a high school in the Midwest. A student asked her if it were true that applicants to MIT needed to have participated in 10 extracurricular activities. What had given him that idea? MIT's application provided 10 lines to list those activities. "I could see the world through his eyes for a few seconds," Ms. Jones wrote, "and I was horrified."

Soon Ms. Jones revamped the application, trimming the number of lines for activities. She also tweaked MIT's essay questions to ask students about things they did for pleasure, as well as about their failures and disappointments.

Less Stress, More Success was a hit. Full of advice for students and parents, the book included a passage about 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."

A Second Act in New York

Ms. Jones resigned in April 2007, the same day she admitted that the three degrees were bogus. MIT officials said at the time that the institution's dean of undergraduate education had received information suggesting that her credentials were not what she claimed. The ensuing conversation with MIT officials is a moment Ms. Jones refuses to describe, except to say that it was an answered prayer.

For years, Ms. Jones says, she had prayed for something to happen, some way out of the lie she could not bring herself to confess. "It just didn't fit me anymore," she says… Then all of a sudden, she was in her car, driving home from MIT for the last time. As she pulled into her driveway, she noticed that her heart had stopped racing and her chest pains were gone.

"I was free," she says.

Soon Ms. Jones's name was everywhere. Her answering machine filled up in an hour. Reporters descended upon her house, in Concord. Her neighbors called the police after camera crews parked themselves outside.

Ms. Jones, who by then had separated from her husband, fled to Manhattan to stay with an old friend. She did not go outside for weeks. She slept constantly. "It was like a snake, molting," she says. "I felt as though my skin had been peeled off, and the underlayer of skin wasn't ready yet."

When Ms. Jones finally returned to Massachusetts, she found that she had received hundreds of supportive e-mail messages, cards, and letters. She figures a third came from people she did not know. In handwritten notes, people thanked her for the good she had done for kids, or wrote "God bless you," or told her that they were praying for her. Ms. Jones also received candy, uplifting posters, and several copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She opened several boxes containing angels, made of glass, or plastic, or wood. Amid all this were two letters of scorn, which she tore to pieces.

When Ms. Jones saw people she knew at the gas station or supermarket, they were always kind, but she could tell they felt uncomfortable. "They didn't know I felt relief," she says. "I had myself back again. I wasn't hiding anything."

Ms. Jones decided to move. As a kid, she had gone on field trips to see Broadway shows, after which she would daydream about living in Manhattan. Back then, the loud, electric city seemed too big, too impossible. After her public humiliation, though, it seemed like just the right place.

Since moving to New York in 2008, Ms. Jones has sought what she describes as a "reclamation." She hired a public-relations consultant, Rose Marie Terenzio, formerly the personal assistant to the late John F. Kennedy Jr. Ms. Terenzio says she explained the first rule of making a comeback: "If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize, try to fix it if you can. Then move forward."

Ms. Terenzio connected Ms. Jones with Columbia University Medical Center's Center for Survivor Wellness, which serves teenagers who have been treated for cancer. Since last November, Ms. Jones has volunteered there each Wednesday morning, meeting one-on-one with patients whose illnesses have interrupted their schooling. She has helped some of the students plan their next steps, to college or a career, and advised others on how to write their application essays.

"She's able to grasp that one little thing that makes them passionate," says Solimar Curumi, the center's clinical coordinator. "That means getting them to look her in the eye."

Word of mouth has led parents of other sick teenagers to Ms. Jones. Recently, she started giving free advice to Maritza Salgado and her daughter Reitza, who has cancer. Ms. Jones has helped Reitza, a high-school graduate, plan for the SAT, and recently paid for her to take an art class at a local college.

While working pro bono with families who have little, Ms. Jones has also tapped into Manhattan's well-heeled set. This spring, she founded TruStar Consulting, a service for parents of high-school students who want help navigating the admissions process and its attendant anxieties. Since becoming a consultant, Ms. Jones has worked with about two dozen families, some at no charge. Her rate is $200 an hour, or $500 for a three-hour consultation, plus unlimited e-mail communication.

At first, Ms. Jones was reluctant to put her name on her business. Then this summer, she started a second company called Marilee Jones Consulting, through which she offers her expertise to high schools and colleges, as well as parents. Her Web site lists numerous endorsements, including a quote from The Boston Globe: "the most celebrated and outspoken admissions dean in America."

Although Ms. Jones no longer has that title, she believes she has a right to the good side of her name. "What I did at MIT was my work," she says.

Over the last couple years, Ms. Jones has thought a lot about what forgiveness means, and she's had little choice in the matter. People who know her story, she says, constantly volunteer secrets to her, about how they once attempted suicide, or lied about their credentials, or cheated on their spouses, or stole things.

The question is whether she can turn her own story into a lesson for others. In peculiar fashion, Ms. Jones has proved the point that she made in Less Stress, More Success: "The truth is that success and happiness are states of mind and have nothing to do with where one goes to college."

Although several deans were reluctant to say much about Ms. Jones or her new business, Michael B. Sexton, vice president for enrollment management at Santa Clara University, captured the consensus among them. "The message Marilee wants to speak of is important and she does it well," he says. "I just wonder if her notoriety will overshadow her credibility."

Some were impressed, at least, that she had chosen to re-enter the field. "She's very brave," says Ms. Delahunty, at Kenyon. "She's exposing herself to scrutiny of her audiences."

Mr. Behnke, her former boss at MIT, suspects that some colleges would be open to hiring Ms. Jones as a consultant. "We're a pretty forgiving country. We give people second chances," he says. "She paid for what she did. Her career has been in the doldrums. If she explains that, I think it can be a valuable lesson for people to hear."

Paige Crosby, a college counselor at St. Johnsbury Academy, in Vermont, says she wants to meet Ms. Jones—and buy her dinner: "When all this came down, I said, OK, she really understood where these kids were coming from. I thought, Aw, that poor kid."

Dishonesty is not something Ms. Crosby takes lightly. Over the years, she has confronted students who have shown her essays that seemed too perfect. She orders those who admit to plagiarism to get out of her office and come back when they are ready to talk about it. When they do, she asks them, "Are you done yet?"

Mistakes should teach you something, Ms. Crosby says. And she thinks that by explaining her mistake, Ms. Jones is perhaps more qualified than ever to tell students about the importance of being who they really are. "People do things for a reason," she says. "Sometimes you have to look behind the individual and ask why they did it. We do that with kids all the time. I don't know why we stop doing that with big people."

Bob Turba sees it differently. Chairman of school counseling services at Stanton College Preparatory School, in Florida, Mr. Turba has long disliked when speakers who have done something wrong stand up and tell young people what not to do. He recalls what a student once told him after attending a presentation by a former drug addict. "I can keep doing drugs and eventually get off of them, just like he did," he recalls the student saying. "And I can probably make some money speaking about it."

In other words, Mr. Turba would not welcome Ms. Jones into his auditorium. "I'm not opposed to the idea of people coming back from a problem," he says in an e-mail message. "But when they become celebrities because of their issue, there's something wrong with our values."

What's in a Name?

When Ms. Jones left MIT, many of her supporters worried that people would dismiss everything she had ever said. Among those who worried was Scott White, director of guidance at Montclair High School, in New Jersey. In a message he posted on an admissions e-mail list in 2007, he lamented her lie but praised her message. He urged his colleagues to remember her "vision of sanity, compassion, and concern."

After all, Ms. Jones understood the hallways of Mr. White's world, where, he says, too many nervous teenagers believe they must achieve perfection to get into an elite college. Teenagers just like Ivy, a girl he once met who said her parents had named her that because they wanted her to attend an Ivy League college. He believes colleges, testing companies, and publishers of college guides have warped the admissions process, turning high school into a résumé-building strategy session.

So when Ms. Jones contacted Mr. White recently about the possibility of presenting at Montclair, he told her she could come. And why not? Ms. Jones, he says, is "the counterweight to the insanity out there."

Mr. White arranged for Ms. Jones to speak at a gathering for parents of juniors last Thursday night. The title of her talk: "The 10 Most Common Mistakes Parents Make in the College Admissions Process: Why They Matter and How to Avoid Them."

Two days before the event, Mr. White predicted that Ms. Jones would win over parents, just like the last time she spoke there, several years ago. He drew an analogy to Pete Rose, the former Cincinnati Reds star who admitted to betting on baseball games as a player and manager, only to find a second life on the speaking circuit. "Everyone makes mistakes in life," Mr. White said. "People know that Pete Rose had some issues there. But would I want to hear him talk about baseball? Absolutely."

Still, Mr. White wondered if someone would complain about Ms. Jones. After all, a curious parent might ask why—in a world full of admissions deans who have never lied about their degrees—had the school invited Ms. Jones? "It's a bit of a risky move," he said.

In the end, Mr. White apparently decided it was too risky. Two nights before Ms. Jones was to speak at Montclair, he called to cancel her invitation. Ms. Jones says he told her he was concerned that her appearance would get him in trouble with his principal.

The next day, Mr. White told The Chronicle that his decision was due to a last-minute change in the evening's agenda: "It had nothing to do with who she is," he said. He would not say when, or if, he would reschedule her talk, however.

So Ms. Jones must wait awhile longer to face the first audience of her new life. Her next presentation is scheduled for January, when she plans to speak at a high school in Massachusetts. Until then, she will practice her talk and ponder the best way to fold her own story into it. All the while, she will wonder what comes next.

Marilee Jones has reclaimed her name, and the best part is also the worst: Nobody seems to have forgotten it.

Comments

1. richardtaborgreene - December 07, 2009 at 06:30 am

A student in Italy told me his method of creating truth from fiction---tell Mr. A that Mr. B loves your idea, then run faster than email to Mr. B and tell him Mr. A loves the idea. if you get the timing right, both statements will transition from being false to being true. I am 61 years old and do not remember meeting anyone who did not do this repeatedly in their career. Honesty is vital because its enables a "reliable near future" which in turn enables all forms of investment (energy, imagination, time, money etc.) which enables development and growth of all sorts. In this case, the falsehood did not jeopardize a reliable near future. Honesty like everything else in life is not sacrosanct or absolute---it is human created, useful, but not divine and not always worthy of use. In general it benefits us by enabling investments to be made by us all. However, investments are exceedingly sensitive to vague impressions and crowd panics, so even discussing possible slight dis-honesty can set up an investor panic. That non-linear risk means we cannot really talk honestly about honesty---I find this a really delicious irony!!!!!

2. cybird9 - December 07, 2009 at 07:03 am

Her work did not matter one iota, because it was done under the guise of a lie that supposes that she was qualified to do that job, when clearly she was not. She was able to do what she did because transcripts and other such evidence backing up those credentials were not required, so that is also the fault of the college that hired her. The fact that she only got two letters of criticism ("scorn," the author calls it), both of which she tore up, shows her lack of respect for the academic world; only in administration would somebody be allowed to simply be fired for what she did. She should be in jail for fraud, not hitting the lecture circuit and receiving praise for her years of work, which she did under a cloak of illegitimacy and deceipt, which shows more contempt for the processes of insuring that our students are handled by experts in their fields, and that includes administration. She can do like the other criminals: write a book and get it made into a television movie on Lifetime. Don't come back to academia--true academics have enough to worry about without having to deal with such a lowlife who was making scads more money than faculty members, and then rationalizes her cowardly deceipt as a mere human frailty. What a wonderful legacy she continues to pass on to our students: that it's perfectly alright to lie about credentials, take money you don't deserve, and steal the college blind. Honesty may not be an absolute, but this article is irresponsible in its praise for somebody who clearly does not get that she should not be allowed to continue in any college venue for any reason.

3. phacker - December 07, 2009 at 07:32 am

Cbird9, your sentiments are exactly why colleges and universities are so out of touch with reality. There are plenty of "qualified" faculty and staff who should not be in a classroom. They may be intelligent but that does not mean they have the ability to teach. Too often, those with skills and insight are overlooked because of the higher education process. Anyone who attends a research university can attenst that good researchers are not automatically good teachers.

I don't condone Ms. Jones's actions in the least but to discount the work she has done just because she doesn't have a degree is shortsighted and rediculous.

But thanks for keeping up the stereotype of the self righteous faculty.

4. sawilson218 - December 07, 2009 at 07:41 am

I am a graduate of MIT and have worked in higher education for 37 years. While at first I was appalled by Ms. Jones' false resume, I now understand that good people do not always make the best decisions, but those who err do have much to contribute to others and to their community -- I have come to believe this primarily because I have spent over three years working at a post-secondary prep school where those who make serious mistakes are often given second chances (drug users go home). The article allows us to see how Ms. Jones has fared since resigning from MIT. That in itself was interesting. The article also reminds those who remained straightforward and honest about their backgrounds just how fortunate they were that their own circumstances did not lead them down the wrong path. Let us not condemn Ms. Jones forever when she still has much to offer to college applicants and their families.

5. cybird9 - December 07, 2009 at 08:22 am

Phacker, your assessment is exactly the reason why so many unqualified people are in administration. It's not just that she doesn't have a degree--she got her "experience" by stealing a job that should have belonged to somebody else, then people like you rationalize that her experience is valuable when it was gotten under the guise of a lie. Faculty would never be allowed through the door if they were not credentialed, as we go through an extensive process of selection. Phacker, you are the one out of touch with reality--would you want a doctor cutting on you who was not credentialed? Would you want a lawyer handling your case who had not actually passed the Bar? Would you want a teacher to continue to teach who did not actually possess the degrees she said that she had, in order to be hired in the first place? She is not qualified to talk to even one college freshman or any high school student; you are simply rationalizing her illegal, immoral activities, a terrible logical fallacy--don't mistake being compassionate with being careless and irresponsible towards our students. The university system works very well, and it is set up the way it is for a reason: to make sure that we protect our students and our colleagues from people who simply want high-paying jobs, when they clearly shouldn't be working in the field at all. To argue that there are plenty of academics or other administrators who are not good instructors or staff who should not be in the field is beside the point. The article is interesting from the standpoint that so, and completely negates the fact that Ms. Jones has committed a tremendous fraud that connect be simply overlooked in the name of compassion. Some of you who think academics have "lost touch" are the ones who are really out to lunch and you are doing it at risk for losing your own credentials. Sawilson, I am truly offended by the notion that you think that people who do things honestly are "fortunate" that they didn't have to make the decision to be dishonest, as if somehow their "misfortunate" of not being degreed would ever be sufficient excuse for this subterfuge. I put myself through school for all three of my degrees and it took me 20 years to do so honestly with no help from anybody, so don't give me this garbage about how fortunate I am, having slogged through years of working up through the ranks as a graduate teaching assistant, adjunct, assistant professor, and finally associate professor, when what Ms. Jones is offering our students is the idea that lying is alright. Thank you, Phacker, for demonstrating just how truly shortsighted and ridiculous you are, calling others on this board names, when your fallacious Straw Man argument has no validity whatsoever.

6. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 09:27 am

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7. 22284568 - December 07, 2009 at 09:38 am

Under her tenure, she/her staff simply rejected honest students who even were admitted to other more competitive institutions than MIT, but just too honest to lie during so called “alumina interview” when speaking truth on controversial topics. It is indeed a shame that MIT had her, an "experienced" liar, for such a long period and promoted dishonesty and rejected honest candidates and well deserved students!

8. truth - December 07, 2009 at 09:40 am

I think it's ironic that this article is entitled "Truth and Admissions". Ms. Jones is a fraud and the last person I'd want advising my children. "She hired a public-relations consultant, Rose Marie Terenzio, formerly the personal assistant to the late John F. Kennedy Jr. Ms. Terenzio says she explained the first rule of making a comeback: "If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize, try to fix it if you can. Then move forward. The problem is she hasn't owned up to her mistakes. This was not just one youthful indiscretion she couldn't expose for fear of hurting her family. She continued to manufacture degrees for herself after she arrived at MIT. "MIT officials have said that Ms. Jones added a degree from Albany Medical College after she was hired. Ms. Jones does not dispute that account, but says she cannot remember that detail, either."

She can't remember the details....yeah right!

9. allicat39 - December 07, 2009 at 09:41 am

What seems clearest from this article, and what no one has mentioned so far, is that Ms. Jones has some mental health issues that started very long ago. Her quest to be "someone else" went quite far--and seems to continue today. I think that instead of doing these lectures and gaining fame for her deception, she should perhaps seek some counseling, privately, and try to come to terms with her actions. Whether she was competent at her job seems immaterial--though I completely agree that becoming famous for tricking the system, i.e. lying about one's credentials, is a poor message to send to all the students who are being told to be honest, and that a college degree (or a college degree and a graduate degree) is necessary for today's economy.

10. hildavcarpenter - December 07, 2009 at 09:50 am

Had Ms. Jones not falsified her credentials she certainly would never have gotten the job at MIT. Then again, if she had not gotten the job, would the results of admissions been the same so quickly (e.g., increased gender & ethnic ratios)? The frailty of Ms. Jones character at the time she decided to falsify her credentials demonstrates that she would never have passed MIT's "paper" choice.

This paradox of paper-to-character is what makes this article so interesting. The fact that the prestigious institution did not discover the false information in the beginning is yet even more fascinating! This is as good as a soap opera.

I find Ms. Jones recovery and willingness to not lie under a rock quite refreshing. In a time of litigious back-biting, isn't it wonderful that someone can actually learn from academia and go on to teach to other young minds?

11. realeducator09 - December 07, 2009 at 09:50 am

As an educational administrator who has worked long and hard for my credentials, and constantly runs into glass ceilings built on patronage I have no sympathy for Ms. Jones'.

12. lee77 - December 07, 2009 at 10:00 am

Cyberg9 - While there are certainly positions where I do want certification of competence - doctors, lawyers, engineers come to mind - there are plenty of positions where degree or lack thereof does not correlate with success. For example, I would take degree-less Bill Gates or Michael Dell over any number of degreed IT folks. And, while the details are limited, I had no sense that the jobs Marilee had were dependent on any specific credentials, much less the biology/medical background that she claimed. If she had had a pedestrian history in the job, I could see an argument that she 'stole' the job - in fact, she had a profound (positive) impact on MIT and she earned her keep. While I think it was appropriate that she resign, I wish her well in her new career.

13. physicsprof - December 07, 2009 at 10:04 am

A good article. And a lot of grandstand moralizing in the comments. Did you never lie in your life (I mean never-never...) or you view your own lies less bad than Ms. Jones'? Some even go as far as sending her to prison (yes, cybird9, the right word is not 'jail')! I missed that part -- did she hurt anyone? Our prison system is sinking state budgets and yet here is somebody advocating increasing its population (and therefore less money for education, helth, etc.) for something that was a non-violent crime. I like the idea of Ms. Jones working as a consultant more. And let parents decide if she can give a valuable advice to them and their kids. This is a free country and as said before, we need to give people second chances. Good luck, Ms. Jones!

14. music_librarian - December 07, 2009 at 10:06 am

Ms. Jones's "mistakes" may have been made by "a younger, much different woman," but she continued to benefit from them throughout her career. As someone who worked very hard to earn her degrees, holding down multiple jobs at the same time, I find it hard to have sympathy for her situation.

15. toddnoth - December 07, 2009 at 10:27 am

This woman is disgusting. All she deserves to reclaim is a prison term. What she calls "mistakes" amount to sustained, willful deception. She was never in a position to pass judgment on the lowliest of applicants. I hope nobody falls for this chirpy self-help prattle she's dishing out,

16. leonjackson - December 07, 2009 at 10:29 am

The issue, to my mind, is not that Ms Jones "told" a lie, or even several lies, but that she *lived* a lie. Yes, Physicsprof (#13), people "tell" lies with some frequency, but Ms Jones not only told one or more whoppers but established a career based upon them, established a degree (if you'll excuse the pun) of credibility and authority based upon those lies, together with a house in Concord, and wielded ultimate control over whether or not applicants would get to pursue degrees of their own. Her mendacity frankly beggars the imagination.

Moreover, I see almost no contrition in her words or deeds since, just a lot of self-serving postures and convenient forgetfulness. No doubt she felt relief at having been fired, what she seems not to have felt is remorse at having been hired. I, for one, find very little to admire in her current career arc, and I do not think that she should profit from whatever expertise she garnered while working at MIT, since it was so fraudulently come by.

17. phdasap - December 07, 2009 at 10:33 am

I have worked as an academic administrator for over 23 years and in order to move up, I spent 11 years working part-time on a Ph.D., while commuting two hours a day, working full time and raising two children. Was she able to do her job well without a degree? Yes of course - many successful people have not finished degrees. The difference is that she is working in academia and she knew that a degree was required for her role. That is fraud.

18. sigmond - December 07, 2009 at 10:44 am

This article is a disgrace. The Chronicle should be ashamed of itself for giving this fraud free publicity and coveted space in its publication. Have you no respect for those of us who invest so much time, effort and hard earned money to obtain our degrees. The Chronicle owes us all an apolgy!

19. obpchronicle - December 07, 2009 at 10:54 am

Some of these comments read as if she got off scot-free.

This woman lost her job, her credibility, and her good name due to her error. She was publicly humiliated.

To judge by some of you, she should also live out the rest of her days either behind bars or confined to her home, too humiliated to ever pursue any work or service that draws upon her considerable experience. I suppose you're busying authoring angry emails to the medical center where she volunteered, to excoriate them for allowing her within their doors to work with those cancer victims.

20. dennydenise - December 07, 2009 at 10:54 am

Ms. Jones is a pathetic individual trying to capitalize on our recent culture of public mea culpas. I cannot imagine families paying for her advise. I am surprise the Chronicle gave her this lenthy forum. Shame on you Ms. Jones.

21. hariseldon - December 07, 2009 at 11:03 am

As an MIT grad and an alumni interviewer for applicants to the undergrad program during and after Ms. Jones' tenure, I think that MIT should seriously consider offering Ms. Jones her old job back if and when Stu Schmill, the current Dean, moves on. Yes, Ms. Jones fibbed 3 decades ago about her educational credentials, but the many judgemental posts above this one ignore Ms. Jones' courage in fighting the obsession with admission to a "good" college, a much more pernicious lie. The "good college" lie is a lot like the lie behind the sub-prime mortgage disaster, in that the fraud is perpetuated by a wide variety of people who have something to gain by not being completely truthful. Alumni want to puff ourselves up merely for attending certain schools, rather than doing anything special with the knowledge acquired there. The schools themselves, know very well that, through tireless self-promotion, they have much to gain and little to lose in the competition for quality faculty, quality students, and, of course, quality funding if they can become "elite institutions". And then, of course, there are the parents ...

So along comes Marilee Jones, WHO KNOWS FROM HER OWN EXPERIENCE, that it' what you know, rather than who you learned it from, that counts, and she's not afraid to say so. She might have been an even better advertisement for her message if she had simply kept her true academic affiliations to herself for a few more years until she could take a normal retirement, and only then come forward with the truth.

One closing thought --- those of you in the so-called humanities who cannot say about Ms. Jones, "There but for the Grace of G-d go I" should study harder to be truly human.

22. leonjackson - December 07, 2009 at 11:14 am

#21 It's not by "the Grace of G-d" that people in the humanties avoid telling the kind of egregious lies Ms Jones foisted on MIT; it's through the strength of our characters. The idea that I am less than a decent human being because I deplore willful deceit is grossly offensive. I'm sorry, but your defense of Ms Jones is purely ad hominem and lacks any credibility to me.

23. physicsprof - December 07, 2009 at 11:47 am

Ms. Jones' misdeed is so offensive to people in academia because it strikes so close to their hearts, not because it is an egregious crime, -- it invalidates the current obsession with degrees and diploma and degrades their own efforts in acquiring those. What it illuminates, actually, is that degrees are grossly overrated in today's world. I find it hilarious but well expected. Those who claim that she was taking somebody else's place need a reality check. She was definitely in the top 5% of all admission deans in the US in her time, so statistically she was a much better fit for the job than an average applicant. And those who pride the "strength of their characters" as the reason for not telling lies might be duping themselves. It is not easy to live a lie, try it, and then tell us how it feels. You will understand why so many criminals want to be caught.

24. davidjhemmer - December 07, 2009 at 11:50 am

Why is the Chronicle trying to rehabilitate this woman and giving her free advertisement for her business?

25. glassdarkly - December 07, 2009 at 11:54 am

@Leonjackson: Excellent point.

Ms. Jones seems to radiate the acceptable narcissism that is so prevalent in academia. I use the term "acceptable" because her inabilty or reluctance to come completely clean even in this article is acceptable to many commenters who gloss over it based upon her other accomplishments.

She continues to waffle on honesty, and is capitalizing on dishonesty. And boosting her ego at the same time. I posit her ego has been the issue all along.

26. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Hey physicsprof, if you had to get emergency open heart surgery, would you be happy with a doctor who fudged his/her credentials or would you choose a doctor who had actually gone through med school?

Would you send your kids to a university which did not do a background check on their faculty, where anyone can "become a professor?"

If we give this woman a free pass, you are right, it completely cheapens academia, and by extension our hard-earned degrees. It's not for selfish reasons to abhor what this woman did. Take this to its logical conclusion: We forego the PhD process altogether and let anyone who does a decent interview become administrators and heck, college professors, why not? Where would the US higher education system be if we let that happen?

The current way we do things may be far from perfect, and there are plenty of lousy lazy dim uninspiring people in academia, both faculty and administrators, but at least the current "credentials" of BS/MS/PhD provide us with a baseline from which we can further evaluate someone. Lying about past credentials is inexcusable, period, regardless of how much penance you pay. You cannot give a few a free pass because then you have to give everyone a free pass.

I do not wish this woman any harm whatsoever. I just don't think anyone should hire her within a mile of any educational institution. May she become rich and successful consulting for corporations, I don't care, just keep her away from education.

27. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 12:08 pm

While Ms. Jones "seems to radiate the acceptable narcissim ... in academia" most posters here radiate the smug credentialist drivel that pervades (some say is) academia.

I think Jones' story is wonderful for the obvious reason that it rubs our academic schnozzles in the malodorous poo we call proper degrees.

I have news for you all. Education and learning is not a piece of paper to hang on the wall. Industry understands this much better, and if you hadn't noticed, industry is what in the end pays for academia. There are more than a few instances of people that are far above the norm proving themselves there. Mr. Lear had a formal 6th grade education. Bill Gates dropped out of college.

So, while Ms. Jones isn't crawling on hands and knees to kiss the feet of the mass of proletarian academics who got their doctorates by hook and by crook, scarring themselves for life in the process, I simply don't care. The fundamental message of her life is that academia is out of touch, and what it sells is grossly overpriced as well as overvalued.

28. sahara - December 07, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Fraud is never acceptable - ever. She may have been good at her job, when she had it, but without her in that position, someone else with integrity would have emerged just as good, if not better.

While she is attempting to rehab herself by helping young people again, she does not deserve any admiring publicity or profit as a result of her fraud. Sigmond, I disagree; it was good for the Chronicle to expose the fraud. It is the outside press that apparantly wants to celebrate her return to the public eye, because it's another sensationalist story for them.

29. leonjackson - December 07, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Physicsprof (#23) writes: "It is not easy to live a lie, try it, and then tell us how it feels." Thanks for the invitation, but I think I'll pass. And while I'm indulging in my prideful and duped existence, let me also offer the observation that while living with having violated a social norm might be immense and require a huge effort, that in no way justifies the initial violation. Moreover, I find no evidence that Ms Jones in particular wished to be caught. She was caught out, plain and simple. Had she voluntarily confessed, I might feel at least a little admiration for her courage; as it stands, I feel precisely none. If Physicsprof wishes to engage in the experiment of living a lie, or perhaps report on the experiment of this nature that he currently has underway, I might feel some morbid curiosity, but his hypothetical fraud, like Ms Jones actual and decades-long deceit leave me entirely unmoved. End of story.

30. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Ah, but "sahara" her story exposes a far greater fraud, does it not?

The fraud she exposed is the fraud of academic qualificationism.

31. physicsprof - December 07, 2009 at 12:12 pm

"Hey physicsprof, if you had to get emergency open heart surgery, would you be happy with a doctor who fudged his/her credentials or would you choose a doctor who had actually gone through med school?"

Fast_and_bulbous, I would choose the one with 30 years of successfull practice.
(Do you know how they call a student who graduated dead last from the Medical School? A Doctor.)

32. physicsprof - December 07, 2009 at 12:16 pm

leonjackson, take it easy on the curves. I do not know what field are you in (probably humanities since you took #21 so personally), but try to fraud a physics degree and take a job teaching it -- good luck.

33. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I am thinking now of another proof of the fraud of academic qualificationism, this one in sciences.

How many PIs will go out and hire a PhD to work in their lab over a person with a bachelor's degree, or a crew of undergrads? Generally speaking, PIs hire the cheapest ones, the undergrads, most of the time. More than a few PIs make use of smart undergrads to come up with grant ideas or even write their grants for them.

An economist will tell you that the Adam Smith's "invisible hand" tells the truth about you and what you are involved in.

Think about it.

34. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 12:25 pm

"I have news for you all. Education and learning is not a piece of paper to hang on the wall. Industry understands this much better, and if you hadn't noticed, industry is what in the end pays for academia. There are more than a few instances of people that are far above the norm proving themselves there. Mr. Lear had a formal 6th grade education. Bill Gates dropped out of college."

Hey johntoradze, assuming you are facutly, I double-dog-dare you to go to the Dean of your college and state that you lied about your degree and that you don't actually have one. Go ahead, give it a try. Expose the fact that your degree doesn't count worth beans, and see where that gets you. LIVE YOUR CONVICTIONS.

35. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 12:29 pm

"How many PIs will go out and hire a PhD to work in their lab over a person with a bachelor's degree, or a crew of undergrads? Generally speaking, PIs hire the cheapest ones, the undergrads, most of the time. More than a few PIs make use of smart undergrads to come up with grant ideas or even write their grants for them."

Absolutely unthinkable in my area. I don't know what branch of science you're in, but computational fluid dynamics does not lend itself very well to success at the undergrad level when it comes to understanding how models work and how to analyze model data.

Undergrads are just too green to do most high-level science work. Were they not, we woudln't need degrees beyond the BS. Even many PhDs are still in the early stages of learning their craft. Heck, 10 years into this I'm still learning new things. My undergrads can barely work the command line, much less be useful to my research project running and tweaking models and analyzing the output.

I suppose if you're a biologist you can march your undergrads throught the swamp to count frog balls and find them useful to you.

36. blutan - December 07, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Mrs. Jones was good at her job who cared if she had the right credentials are not. We in higher education are steeped in tradition and credential identification that we will let a superstar in our field walk away because of our own issues. Mrs. Jones showed that compassion and hardwork helped her succeed at an institution that was not embracing of diversity until she showed how it could contribute to the campus community. I respect her for her courage and honesty even if it took twenty years...we all have done stupid things in our youth and paid the price in our adult life.

37. 11132507 - December 07, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Was what she did wrong? Not up for debate. But egads people, some of you are making her out to be Charles Manson or something. Amazing just how many Chronicle readers have been officially designated as qualified to judge others. Has it occurred to some of you that her long successful career at one of America's premier institutions serves as possible evidence that a multitude of advanced degrees isn't always everything it's cracked up to be?

38. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Oh, my. The snottiness is coming out of the woodwork now! Dear me.

Oh, thou fast_and_bulbous one! My degrees are all exactly what I say. I suffered for attending community college early on, and getting a BS from a non-foremost school. My doctorate with honors came from a top institution. In that process I documented extensive fraud at the highest levels (deans and chairs) which is systematically covered up by the chain going up to the chancellor. I also have seen directly how lacking in education people come through the sciences with, despite passing courses. Thus, oh, bulbous one, I am uniquely qualified to disrespect the fatuous credentialism of which I speak I suggest that you grow up, wake up and smell the manure. The world economy is passing judgment on us; yes, even as we speak the hour of reckoning grows nigh.

39. shoegal720 - December 07, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Let's not forget that she actually DOES have a degree from College of Saint Rose and that at the time she applied for the assistant position, a degree was not required for hiring... suppose she had not lied, gotten the same job, worked her way up in the same manner, and still eventually attained the deanship. Would you still be inclined to say she did nothing positive for MIT?

40. carolynlawrence - December 07, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I'm an educational consultant. I heard Ms. Jones speak at many admissions conferences, and admired her message to students. I hope, however, that she will stay focused on pro bono work, and not paid admissions consulting work. Educational consultants who abide by strong ethical and professional standards don't need another reason for people to brand us as morally repugnant. Yet, Ms. Jones COULD do a great deal of good by continuing to work pro bono, especially with low income students. If she is truly trying to reclaim her name AND help students and not just following the direction of her PR consultant, I would applaud her efforts.

41. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Oh my! The fatuousness o bulbous one, the fatuousness!

Give me a break pal, now I am certain you are simply spouting nonsense. I know, right now, several extremely complex computing projects that have been primarily written by people without advanced degrees. For example, I do believe that analysis of electron microscopy qualifies. Certainly, there are undergrads who are not going to be capable, but that does not mean that all of them are not. Nor does that mean that to do it requires a PhD.

You see, bulbous one, I did 20 years in software from operating systems to advanced projects in CIM, machine vision and robotics. And I know for a fact that one of the disqualifications for being good at it is a PhD. Why? Because I ran these kinds of projects, I was everything from a coder and lead engineer to division manager. Funny thing about PhDs. About 5%-10% of them were actually outstanding compared to people with no degree at all. About half of them were abysmal, and the rest were no different.

42. sigmond - December 07, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Sahara, I do not believe the intent of the Chronicle article was to expose the fraud. Rather, the article bolsters Ms. Jones' "new" career in which she seeks to benefit from her fraud. I, for one, am sick and tired of people who commit wrongdoing, profess a mea culpa, and then wind up better then those of us who play by the rules.

43. bgill78 - December 07, 2009 at 12:56 pm

What about the people that did not get the positions, because she lied? Very likely a more qualified candidate was set aside because she lied. What would those people have accomplished if given the chance?

This was not a victimless crime.

44. amnirov - December 07, 2009 at 12:58 pm

To hell with her. She owes an MIT education to all of those students her lying butt turned down for being honest. Likewise it's a shame that everyone who applied for any job she ever got can't sue her and sue MIT for not exercising due diligence.

45. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 01:00 pm

Now, one hears this claim (without proof) quite often, that a more qualified candidate was probably set aside. But contained therein is the heart of the matter. On what basis does anyone think they are able to say such a thing? Flatly, the idea is a self-fulfilling prophecy, pure drivel.

Quite simply, the evidence says the opposite. This woman was outstanding, quite above the average dean of admissions. One could well argue that she proved herself to be the best - in practice. And it is the practice that is real. It is the practice, what is done that matters. Nothing else matters, and nobody really cares except wallpaper faculty.

46. phdasap - December 07, 2009 at 01:01 pm

Posting #36 Blutan: Mrs. Jones was good at her job who cared if she had the right credentials are not...I respect her for her courage and honesty even if it took twenty years...

SHE never stepped forward. Someone else reported that her degrees had been misrepresented. In fact, she went for a promotion "She describes the dilemma as a "moral moment," when she could have chosen to correct the record. Instead, she applied for the job."

I am disgusted by the people who could actually defend this behavior as a mistake of youth. PLEASE. She wanted the promotion to the top role and since she had been there so long figured it would never come out. This was a fraud - pure and simple. Lying about having a degree is wrong and no amount of good work in her role makes up for her lack of integrity and ethics. Aren't we trying to instill that in kids?


47. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 01:03 pm

johngatorade, I tip my hat to your awesome credentials and your awesome undergraduates. You must live in a different world than I where I regularly deal with students who have taken calculus who whonder what that squiggly S thing is and who can barely write an equation much less understand it and apply it to a fluid.

You come across to me as self-loathing, almost embarassed for your own credentials and success, and yet you go on at length about how awesome they are. You brush aside my suggestion because obviously *you* have all your awesome degrees. My point was, try to see how far pretending you don't gets you.

The fact that this woman was good at her job does not excuse the fraud she committed. The fact that incompetent idiots fill the hallowed halls of academia does not excuse her actions. The fact that most of your PhD students suck does not excuse her actions. We all know that a PhD is more about endurance than it is about brilliance. Either do the work and put in your time, or pick another career. These constructs exist for a reason. If you hate it so much, maybe you and your awesome degrees can offer suggestions for a better paradigm than our current degree-bases system.

48. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 01:06 pm

I will tell you all a secret. A few times in that 20 years, I hired someone who I figured out during interviews was lying on their resume. I did it for the most awful Machiavellian reasons. I had determined from the hiring interviews that they were smart and probably capable. And I knew that I could drive them harder than anybody who had all the right credentials because they would need to prove themselves.

It worked. Sometimes I felt like a dirtbag for doing it, but it worked out very well. And I am thinking right now of a faculty who makes it a practice to hire grad students and undergrads who have either a minor criminal record, or something else hounding them. That faculty gets so much more out of her people than most.

49. leonjackson - December 07, 2009 at 01:06 pm

Physicsprof (#32) challenges me to "try to fraud a physics degree and take a job teaching it." That's the second time in less than an hour that you have invited me to engage in fraud. Again, I politely decline, but I have to wonder at your standards of investigation, which seem to consist solely of some arch "walk a mile in X's shoes and see how you feel about it"-style gambit. Your appeal to experience makes for compelling rhetoric, but I want to insist again that it has precisely no argumentative value. I have not, I think, lived a lie, nor did I cheat in order to achieve any of my degrees. More to the point, I'm not sure that I need to do so in order to make my claim, which is not about whether or not diplomas are necessary or sufficient, or whether schools engage in snobbery, or whether or not it is onerous to live a lie. My point was simply that lies of the extent, duration, and consequence of those told by Ms Jones are, in and of themselves, morally wrong. Whether or not it was hard for her to live by them, and whether or not she did some good along the way, are entirely moot. Period.

As for the field in which I work, please don't be so quick to jump to conclusions! My response in #21 was not a defense of THE humanities but of MY humanity. The MIT recruiter suggested that those who could not sympathize with Ms Jones need to work harder on being "fully human," which is a preposterous statement. And now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to return to reaping the rewards and meeting the responsibilities of my hard-earned degrees by indulging in some teaching and research.


50. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 01:10 pm

"And I knew that I could drive them harder than anybody who had all the right credentials because they would need to prove themselves."

Wow, nice. Nothing like a little blackmail as motivation. Good on you brother.

51. physicsprof - December 07, 2009 at 01:13 pm

leonjackson, I did not invite you to participate in fraud -- it was a figure of speech. You suspected that my morally questionable position of not judging others might be an indication of myself engaging in some form of fraud. I simply told you not to bother -- faking credentials in physics is rather impossible. At least I never heard of it. (Disclosure -- there were great physicists who lacked college degrees, everybody knew that but noone cared about it.)

52. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 01:17 pm

"We all know that a PhD is more about endurance than it is about brilliance." - fast_and_bulbous
Aha! Thank you for your honesty.

Yes, I have seen far to many undergrads and grad students who have very serious deficits in basics. Your story about "that squiggly thing" resonates. That is the other side of what I am saying here. Academic attainment has become quite a fraud. If a student has a C in calculus, then they should be able to do calculus, and even use it. But few can actually use it who got an A. I have known graduate students near the end of their doctorate (yes in science) who couldn't handle the nth root of a rate equation.

No, I am not self-loathing. :-) I am simply a realist, and I pride myself in looking at reality without flinching. (Although, I must confess I do flinch frequently.) In academia young Skywalker, serious problems there are.

Quite frankly, I think that the major problem today, at least in sciences, is that there is far too much "advanced" stuff taught to undergrads. Undergrad "education" has become a firehose from which few can drink. Because of that, insufficient time is spent on the real fundamentals, (chemistry, physics, mathematics, biochemistry) and consequently, students don't actually learn it, they just sort of skim it. As a result, far too many students today actually believe that "education" is about "acquaintance with facts" in various areas.

53. truth - December 07, 2009 at 01:21 pm

This is not about whether one needs a degree or not to do admissions work! It's about Marilee Jones complete lack of integrity. Yes, people lie and yes people make mistakes. Even those with some level of shame or integrity - admit when they've made a mistake.

She is still unwilling to disclose the full story. She did not come clean on her own but did so only when confronted with the evidence against her. Further this was NOT a 20 year lie - according to the article MIT says she added degrees (Albany Medical College) that were not on her original resume. It's interesting how people seem to want to believe her and forgive her while ignoring the facts of this case.

54. johntoradze - December 07, 2009 at 01:22 pm

Nay, fast_bulbous one, nay. I did not ever blackmail anyone. I never, ever told them, never told anyone except once what I had determined.

That one exception was when I had a fiduciary obligation to disclose to a partner that someone had seriously lied on his resume. In that case, the disclosee decided to keep him because he was doing an outstanding job where he was, and it didn't matter. The disclosee called the guy into his office and nicely told him to cut it out, but that he was wanted.

I like to know the real facts. But I also like to deal with the actual reality and keep the rubber on the road so things can work. The reason those people worked extra hard is the same reason that people who get hired and don't have the qualifications (but admit it) work extra hard. They have to prove themselves forever.

55. jdietrich - December 07, 2009 at 01:35 pm

I was quite mismayed to see the article about "Ms." Marilee Jones not "Dr." Jones on the front page of The Chronicle this morning. With all the real problems facing students during these difficult economic times who are trying to plan to go to or remain in some form of higher education, I think The Chronicle could find something more appropriate to write about than this, quite frankly, unworthy piece. Only once in my 35 plus years in higher education have I come across a faculty member who "lied" on their resume about a college not attended and a degree not earned, and that faculty member was fired outright. We expect a great deal from our prospective students who apply to our colleges and universities, and one thing is paramount - honesty. Just like truth in advertising, admissions is all about truth in presenting oneself as well. Admissions has no place for dishonesty and unethical conduct, especially from those who lead and hold the power of accepting or denying a prospective's application for admission that could/should/will change the life of that prospective student forever.
Let's keep our eye on the ball - Chronicle editors - and write about what's important to students and your readers going forward, and not waste everyone's time with apologies from dismissed or forceably resigned high level faculty/staff who fraudulently misrepresent themselves and do not lead by example.

56. sigmond - December 07, 2009 at 02:21 pm

Well said jdietrich. Bravo!

57. speedstick - December 07, 2009 at 02:36 pm

Am I to believe that THOSE degrees and institutions she fraudulently claimed swayed the hiring committee at MIT to give her the deanship? I hadn't even heard of any of them till I read her story. How many degrees, by the way, does she need to help students fill out an admissions application? I'm thinking ZERO!!

58. fast_and_bulbous - December 07, 2009 at 02:39 pm

"I like to know the real facts. But I also like to deal with the actual reality and keep the rubber on the road so things can work. The reason those people worked extra hard is the same reason that people who get hired and don't have the qualifications (but admit it) work extra hard. They have to prove themselves forever."

Don't we all continually have to prove ourselves, though, regardless of all this fraud stuff and/or youthful indiscresions? Not many of us, fully doctored or not, get a free pass or get to rest on our laurels for past accomplishments (well tenure has its problems but let's put its abuse aside for a moment). My entire problem with this woman is she out-and-out committed fraud, and now is being painted in a sympathetic light. It implies that the ends can justify the means. While I hate "sends a message" arguments, one has to consider whether this woman is a case study for "sometimes cheating is OK."

Let us wonder whether this talented woman would have eventually found her way into a similar position, perhaps at another university, had she actually gotten her degrees, or at least found a university which didn't have such high standards. She probably would have done fine.

I will never hesitate to state that there are serious problems in academia, but tossing out degree requirements does not seem to be the right way to make things better.

I have often thought that getting rid of tenure would be a start, but while that would undoubtedly get rid of deadwood, it would also discourage some bright people who otherwise would have gone into academia, creating a zero-sum game, or even coming out much worse.

59. nacrandell - December 07, 2009 at 03:04 pm

Wow - this article brought out the responses. There seems to be two issues: Falsifying credentials and What credentials actually mean.

What did she do - falsify her credentials.

Who did she hurt -
1. University - probably not as she was capable in her position
2. Students - probably not as she was capable in her position
3. Two unknown job applicants - probably yes as she was hired, based on her credentials, and they were not hired. - Where did they go?

She will succeed in her endeavor. Napoleon said there were two motivators: fear and greed. These motivations will push parents to private consulting with Ms. Jones. I suggest that it is unfortunate, because her success will be derived from her knowledge and network connections resulting from her original lie.

What credentials mean should be addressed in another article - currently there are programs beginning to offer executive PhD's, now that everyone in business has executive MBA's. Will these programs teach or fill up classrooms?

60. lotsoquestions - December 07, 2009 at 03:16 pm

Do you really think that if some wealthy family in NYC hired her to "advise" their kids on college admissions, and then pressured her to: write the kiddo's application and essays, aid the kid in falsifying credentials and just for the heck of it, to forge a couple of letters of recommendation -- she wouldn't do it? Isn't there some kind of accrediting certificate or agency for college admissions advisors? Wouldn't someone who perpetrated this kind of fraud be denied admittance to such an organization?

61. 2susan - December 07, 2009 at 03:37 pm

I have no sympathy at all for this fraud, and here's why: while she obtained her position thanks to her lies, other people work very hard to actualy obtain degrees and are qualified for jobs they can't get because of frauds like her.

I would never hire her.

And, while I wonder how MIT allowed someone to continue in this fraud for decades, instead of catching it immediately, kudos to them for exposing her.

There are LOTS of fake-credential high level officials making mucho dinero in education - superintendents in public school district taking home more than $200,000 per year and other big honchos, and yes, some of them lie, too.

What a shame that ALL the frauds are not ousted from education, so that the many qualified people who are shut out by frauds could finally get a chance.

62. 11269856 - December 07, 2009 at 04:00 pm

No one has noticed the most disturbing thing in the article: Ms. Jones apparently told her own husband and child the same lies. This does not even make sense, presumably since they were married BEFORE she got the MIT job, Ms. Jones must have lied first to her husband, not first on a job application. It's easy to lie on a resume no one checks, but between family members?? Didn't her daughter ask her about her college days? Did her family think she had medical training? Did she have no friends from the Catholic college she actually did attend who would call and "out" her to her family? This is not about a lie just to advance a career (which I deplore), it's about a deeply pathological situation that suggests much more serious imbalance. Saying "she can't recall" makes her sound like a politician on the stand. There's more to this story. And I agree, I am so tired of the fanfare for anyone who stops doing something terrible. These conversion narratives are boring and shallow.

63. 2susan - December 07, 2009 at 04:18 pm

Re post #61 - "No one has noticed the most disturbing thing in the article: Ms. Jones apparently told her own husband and child the same lies."

I don't think that's the most "disturbing" thing in this article -- what she tells her husband and kids is her own business. It is not a public matter.

What I find is the most "disturbing" thing is that NOW, she is trying to SPEAK in taxpayer-funded forums like public schools in Massachusetts and public community colleges in New Jersery.

So, now, we the taxpayers, have to pay for janitorial services, electricity costs, and students must go and hear her? Why?

Because she spent her whole life on the public taxpayer dole, so she doesn't really know any other life. Yet, it is infuriating to me that she thinks she deserves a platform anywhere.

"Go AWAY!" is what I want to tell her. Yes, we'll include you in a future article of "Where are they now" -- when someday we oust ALL the frauds in education.

And, by the way: pay back to MIT all your salary and benefits that you stole from MIT over the years due to your fraud. That is what should happen to her.

64. jonathanakin - December 07, 2009 at 04:22 pm

Thank goodness the Chronicle has published this article. At least the readers know to watch out that this admitted fraud does not come to your community and our schools on her "mea culpa" tour. I applaud those previous posters who put in the hard work and time to make it to their current positions honestly. A role model who lies is certainly never ok; put Ms. Jones squarely where she belongs--in the same deplorable company as "honest" tax evaders and embezzlers.

65. minnesotan - December 07, 2009 at 04:26 pm

"I find Ms. Jones recovery and willingness to not lie under a rock quite refreshing."


No, she lied, alright. =)

66. mssmiley - December 07, 2009 at 05:01 pm

She makes Bernie Madoff look like boy scout!!

Consultant?

67. mssmiley - December 07, 2009 at 05:06 pm

Here was brazen liar perpetuating one of the greatest frauds in academic history, and she has the nerve to now call herself a consultant. Shame on MIT for not verifying her so called credentials. I guess that says a lot for privilgege few. Had it been someone from a different background this would not have happened. Speaks volumes about this "great institution of learning."

What a big joke!!

68. 2susan - December 07, 2009 at 05:18 pm

Since most of the people on this thread seem less than pleased to find the Chronicle giving this thief a platform, how about the Chronicle redeem itself by offering to do some investigative reporting -- and take tips from your readers, on people in education who are frauds with fake credentials?

Then, do a real article worthy of the Chronicle, and expose those frauds.

In many states all it takes it is a request for public records documenting the allegedly existing "degrees" of the subject education "leader/"fraud. But, you will find: such degrees do not exist.

That would be an article your readers would find worthwhile.

Maybe someday our nation will champion a new federal law, enforcable in all states and local public school districts, that makes it a federal crime for people to submit fake degree information in their resume and/or application to a public school district or institution of higher education. I sure would like to see THAT new law! Wow! Many high paying leadership jobs would suddenly open up to people who are actually QUALIFIED!!!

69. ssmallwood - December 07, 2009 at 05:45 pm

Admittedly, it was a few years ago now but The Chronicle did do an investigation into professors with fake degrees. Here's a link to the main piece: http://chronicle.com/article/Psst-Wanna-Buy-a-PhD-/24239/

70. travelerglobal - December 07, 2009 at 06:12 pm

My first reaction when I read the article was to say “This is America;” anyone can become famous even if she/he has committed a crime as long as she/he finds an audience. However, it is more than that. This article has provoked reactions, part-taking, and so forth to a situation that involves “values.” It is a healthy thing and I appreciate this democracy. I would definitely not blame Eric Hoover for writing and publishing the article in The Chronicle. The article and the comments invite one to ponder about who we are as a society. I see Ms. Jones' story as a success story of survival and comeback. What she has done by lying about her credentials strengthens my conviction that people are “irrational” or “behave irrationally.” If one reduces the story to something about being human, this may promote understanding/explanations/acceptance of all kind of stupid human behavior. On the other hand, *IF* the story would be transformed into a biographical book or even a movie, the proceeds from selling the artifacts should go to a charity and not to Ms. Jones' pocket. Have you watched the movie “Doubt” (2008)? One of the most painful feelings is not knowing “the truth” and having doubt. I have doubts about Ms. Jones' long time concealment and transformation into a consultant for “good things.”

71. allenh - December 07, 2009 at 06:39 pm

Well, here's what I think will happen:

1. This lady will get rich from consulting. Like it or not, she got away with it for a good while. Long enough to establish herself and get enough supporters that believe in her (witness comments here) that she'll be okay. Those that don't like her will not pay but she wasn't looking for cash from them anyway.

2. People will still go get degrees because, to some, getting the degree matters (even if they could get a job without it). They are just wired different from a lady like this. They COULD do the job without it but choose not to.

3. The Chronicle will probably post more stories like this. It's gotten more responses than I saw on this site in the last month. They want eyeballs on the site and this story got it. Eric and Scott are no dummies.

4. I'll be mad, then sad, then confused, then some other stuff that I haven't thought of. I'll go home and forget it all and come back to the site tomorrow to start all over again.

72. 2susan - December 07, 2009 at 09:38 pm

RE post #69 - Thanks for the link to the 2004 Chronicle article, detailing several frauds. Here's an excerpt from that link for anyone who's interested:
----------
But he hired Mr. Malehorn anyway because, according to the dean, it's not uncommon for professors, or even top administrators, to have bogus credentials...."there are crooks out there."
----------
Yes, there are "crooks" out there -- and I don't know why, in academia in higher ed, and in K-12 public school districts, these crooks are tolerated for years and decades.

Actually, I know why they are able to conceal themselves in public education in K-12 districts: because the school board members are divided, meaning some are crooked, too, while other board members who know they are serving with crooked people, are spineless wimps and say nothing, especially if they are in the minority.

The state attorney's offices do nothing because they don't want to get involved in K-12 public school districts -- that's the school board's duty, claim the state attorneys.

The local newspapers do nothing, because they have no investigative reporters on staff, and they publish no investigative reporting to begin with. In addition, the local papers don't want real estate prices dropping, which is what they fear would happen if they exposed the fact the overpaid district superintendent has fake degrees.

Furthermore, the taxpayers don't know what to do, because when the matter is brought up to crooked school board members, the crooked school board members simply find new ways to bypass quaint reqiurements like a college degree, and claim that no resume and no application is required for a $200,000+ public school superintendent job.

And we wonder why the USA does so poorly in international rankings? Well, try getting rid of all the "crooks" in academia, for starters.

And, take note that in high performing countries, it is teachers -- yes, teachers -- who have a much greater say in decision-making in public schools. Teachers in this country are treated like factory workers. Only here, teachers have to also suffer the indignity of working for crooks.

73. arrive2_net - December 08, 2009 at 03:38 am

I think it is a good thing that Ms. Jones got caught. It sounded like that was what it took ... for all her alleged attacks of conscience and agonizing over the lies, she had to get caught to get out of the job and claim to have reformed. Maybe earlier in her career, Ms. Jones could have gotten a different job with her actual degree, or maybe she could have gone and earned an actual doctorate somewhere, but she didn't. When Ms. Jones applied for advanced positions at MIT she was in effect still claiming the benefits of degrees she did not have, so the willful deception part of her story was not all in her youth. I noticed that some of the exceptionalities the article claims for Ms. Jones seem to have been part of national trends, like a trend toward more female students and minorities.

74. phd_angel - December 08, 2009 at 04:48 am

Many lessons to be learned from this lady, article and readers, that...

1. a cheater can infiltrate a top institution (and actually improve it!).

2. a cheater can show how useless diplomas are for many "qualified" jobs.

3. a cheater can talk about ethics and get knowing parents to pay lots of $$$ to get their kids "in the system" too!

4. an educational journal can give free space for a cheater.

5. Chronicle readers can be very unforgiving about human mistakes.

6. this lady's story absolutely short-circuits the educational system.

this whole situation is so absurd I cannot but find it HILARIOUS!

75. drj50 - December 08, 2009 at 11:04 am

I am puzzled by the repeated allegations in these posts that Ms. Jones lacked the necessary academic qualifications when hired. I can't imagine that the initial admissions position required more than a baccalaureate degree. And I suspect that the primary qualification for the higher positions was doing good work in the position(s) she had already held. However one evaluates the seriousness of her dishonesty, it does not appear that an unqualified person took a position away from a qualified one.

76. optimysticynic - December 08, 2009 at 11:17 am

test

77. truth - December 08, 2009 at 01:25 pm

You're right drj50. She started out as a secretary in the Admissions Office and worked her way up. She didn't need to lie or inflate her qualifications to get that first job. But she did. And then according to published reports she continued to lie and create additional degrees along the way. If she had allowed sleeping dogs to lie she probably never would have been found out.

78. bmljenny - December 08, 2009 at 02:24 pm

I'm with phdasap in comment #46 - she never did come clean on her own and as recently as her attempt to get her boss's job was perrrrfectly fine with continuing the fraud. No, Ms Jones, it's not true that "Everybody has a shadow side they're running away from." We all have regrets - I know I've said hurtful things to people I love, I've turned a blind eye to people in need, I've let people down, but we most certainly do not ALL have a "shadow side" on anywhere near this scale. The only thing she is qualified to consult on is fraud detection, the way former burglars can be helpful to police in catching other crooks.

79. cousinannie - December 08, 2009 at 02:52 pm

It is possible to do certain kinds of work competently - that is, commensurate with the expectations of the role - under a fraudulent guise. Likewise, it is possible to follow the letter of the law with every qualification intact and still perform at a mediocre level, or worse. Fraud is bad. Incompetence is bad. Sometimes they occur simultaneously, occasionally not.

Ms. Jones has a right to work and earn a livelihood, but I do wish she would use her talents toward a greater good. Becoming a college admissions consultant seems to just brush aside the fraud she committed. It's ballsy, as though her wrongdoing didn't really matter and she can just pick up where she left off (albeit on the other side of the admissions process). It's annoying and disappointing, but it doesn't affect me in that visceral, blood-boiling way that it affects others. That said, I am willingly engaged in research to test whether someone with a bachelor's degree can perform certain tasks traditionally relegated to Ph.D.s like myself, so perhaps it's partly a matter of threat perception.

In my fantasy world, Ms. Jones would do low-fee consulting for underemployed secretaries who are smarter than their degreed bosses and want to figure out how to go to college. I've known more than a few working adults who would benefit from a little coaching on how to enter the system and play by its rules.

80. powderburns - December 08, 2009 at 04:11 pm

So inspiring to see all the perfect people in this world represented on this blog. Not surprising that we hold the position in this world that we do at this time. It's like cliff notes of social ills.

What say ye "thumbs up or thumbs down"?

81. 2susan - December 08, 2009 at 04:57 pm

Re post #80 - Is it really so much to ask, expect and require that people seeking mucho money in education tell the truth about their degrees on their resumes?

I don't think that's asking too much.

82. greeneyeshade - December 08, 2009 at 05:37 pm

No doubt,in some sense, Ms. Jones did a credible job; she learned to fit whatever talents she had into whatever those around her required her to do and even apparently did it with a flair.

But for my entire life in universities--nearly 40 years now, the university version of employees who fulfilled the "Peter Principle" has always struck me.

These employees were characterized by an ability to fit into a high level job by learning to do the exact requirements of that particular job, but never fully understanding the underlying theory of the profession, the history of the profession, nor a vision for where the profession was headed. They knew the job as it was, and that was it--the proverbial mile-wide but inch-deep understanding.

How on earth has Ms. Jones somehow become a person who knows all of the broad core competencies of an admissions professional, enough to give competent advice to impressionable high school students?

83. president_of_albany - December 08, 2009 at 08:57 pm

Wow, this is amazing! Who knew there were so many perfect people in the world!
Commenters who have never lied,
never cheated,
never exceeded the speed limit,
never done anything wrong,
and probably have never done anything positive for society.

All I'm taking away from these comments is that there are a lot of self-important administrators/educators with over inflated egos, sharing long winded ramblings, in an attempt to destroy someone and make themselves feel more important than they are.

Maybe if you put more energy into your job (like Like Ms. Jones) and less time writing ******** comments our education system wouldn't be such a joke!

Grow up!

84. nykol - December 08, 2009 at 09:24 pm

This lady is a complete fraud. She is a pathological lier and consciously chose not to reveal her "true" self, whatever self that maybe.

Secondly, she should have never been allowed that position without her actual credentials being scrutinized by the GREAT MIT--yes, I'm mocking the University. MIT prides itself on such "stellar" programs and attracting the "best and brightest" of students and faculty. Normatively speaking, MIT "should" have never accepted Jones at her word regarding her bogus degrees.

The objective reason why MIT didn't think to check her background is due simply to her race--yes, I said, it her race. Had it been an African American female that lied about her degrees, well, hell, the University would have indeed, fired her on the spot!

Lastly, I'm a 5-degreed academic at a very infant stage of my young professional career whose on the tenure track. I worked extremely hard to "earn" my Ph.D.and other advance degrees and proud of it because nothing was given to me on a silver nor gold platter like MIT gave Jones.

This national disgrace brought on by Jones serves MIT right! Hopefully, Jones will seek professional help for her obvious personality disorders and nihilistic syndrome she has displayed.

And, as for MIT, continue with your illusion of "diversity" in student admissions, faculty hiring, and administrator hiring.

At MIT, "Diversity" has now become the new word for "falsifying" degree attainment for employment sake!

85. lpeterss - December 08, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I will admit to having two totally different reactions to this story. The one is from the person who has worked for 25+ years in academe, going about it the "right way," working toward demanding degrees while simultaneously fulfilling significant administrative jobs, teaching, raising children, balancing spousal issues, and dealing with aging parents. That person has frequently stood wide-eyed as others cut corners, offered bought degrees, and used the work of colleagues (read: my) work to pad their resumes while I (stupidly? naively? certainly to the detriment of my career) plugged away. That person says, not to put too fine a point on it, "B----, how dare you?"

Then there's the reaction from the person who, at age 16, lied on a job application to add two years to her age because the company she was applying to required that all employees be at least 18. I needed the job; the money was better than the alternatives; I had already graduated from high school; what was the difference? There was also the feeling, perhaps not unlike Ms. Jones' at the time, that to snag a job, under whatever circumstances, was to put one over on the dominant powers. It was, at that time, just that unlikely that anyone would give a female half a chance. I can't stress enough how different those times were, long before Title Nine and helicopter parents. A couple years of age or a more credible degree seemed pretty minor in the age of Watergate and J. Edgar.

In my case, it turned out that the company was paranoic enough to require lie detector tests of all its new employees. So when, six months into the job, my turn came around and they strapped me in and asked me the crucial question, "did you lie on your job application?" I had already decided to say "yes," explain, and walk out the door. They called me back later and said that they could waive the age requirement, but I had had enough.

But, as a thought experiment, what if there had been no lie detector test? What if I had risen through the ranks to become chief cook and bottlewasher of the north central division of Gizmo, Inc.? At what point might I have said "actually, I'm a little younger than that -- I can't yet qualify for retirement"? And though lying about attained degrees might be a particular anathema in academic circles, a lie is a lie. Ms. Jones, who did not represent herself as having the qualifications to teach Proust to graduate students or to practice cardiac surgery, did in fact demonstrate her real credentials over many years.

Right now, my sympathies are resting more strongly with Ms. Jones than with MIT - for one thing, I'm left with an uneasy feeling about how many people may have chosen to look the other way over the years. A person hired on in her early 20s, working hard, explaining her background, perhaps with some inconsistencies - did she know her purported institutions all that well? was there never a sign to others? From what we've heard, Ms. Jones is not a pathological liar - she did her job well and this was the one boost she gave herself. My experience tells me (and one or two previous posts support the point) that someone(s) knew, but chose not to tell. Employers as well as employees have ethical obligations.



86. jkherms - December 09, 2009 at 04:10 am


Sales, R. J. (1997, Apr. 3). Jones is named interim head of Admissions. MIT News.

Winstein, K. J. (2003, Apr. 1). Students accused of Tech [newspaper] fraud must pay $50K in compensation. The Tech.

Winstein, K. J. (2007, Sept. 22). Some of MIT's arithmetic hasn't been adding up. Wall Street Journal.

87. 2susan - December 09, 2009 at 07:23 am

Regarding the post #83 post by "president_of_albany" --

based on your comment, it sounds like you got your high payin' 'gig with some fake credentials, too, "president_of_albany."

88. marka - December 09, 2009 at 03:34 pm

Hmm ... I'm with #87 - "83. president_of_albany" can't really be the President of Albany [University of, or College ...], can it? Must be a nom de guerre, an alias -- or for the more sensitive among us, a misleading moniker at best, a fraud at worst. If it is the President of Albany ... I am stunned.

I read this article and responses yesterday, and have come back with some observations of my own.

The victims are truth, integrity, ethics, morals, respect, reputation, family (what effect did this have on former husband & daughter?), and other candidates for these positions, among others.

If the lying wasn't relevant or material, why would she lie in the first place? And then compound it by adding another? And then compound that by continuing to cite the fake credentials when advancing up the ladder? As one commenter has noted in another piece "Postsecondary education is the most complicated expensive thing you'll ever buy and you'll have it for the rest of your life. It's really important that you be able to concisely and conclusively demonstrate it to other people." http://chronicle.com/blogPost/The-Hypnotist-Situation/9055/?sid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en Undoubtedly, she, and at least some of those deciding on employment, thought such credentials were relevant and material to hiring, retention, promotion, and ultimately firing.

And from the article, it appears that Ms. Jones still has unresolved issues regarding what seems to be prolonged, chronic, pathological lying. She lied about something that she didn't need to lie about, and continued the lie repeated (who knows what other lies she told?) Most of us want to believe in redemption and recovery, but not everyone who tries is successful. Often the most harmful thing is for others to let you minimize the problem and put you back in the same situation that led to the problem in the first place. If I were deciding on hiring, I would certainly not rehire her, or hire her for a similar position -- you don't put an embezzler or forger back in a position of trust with money -- even if 'recovered,' the temptation may prove too great (you don't give an alcoholic alcohol, or an addict their addiction of choice ... except under strict supervision if you are tapering down to eventually eliminate the drug use). And hiring a spin doctor? Image is more important than substance? Sounds like perpetuation of the problem to me.

For those who would like to 'forgive and forget' ... sure, we'd all like to be forgiven for our own trespasses, and be able to move on ... but the model is 'go' and 'sin no more' -- those last 3 words are key. We shouldn't 'forget' lest we repeat the same mistake. We do no one any favors by simply sweeping the problem under the most convenient rug. Consequences can and should be serious for this, and simply losing her job @ MIT once caught doesn't seem serious enough in these circumstances.

Lastly, what kind of example is this for others? One might 'learn' that one can get away with deceit for years, and when caught, there is only a temporary consequence, and one can go back to doing what one did before -- based on the experience gained from the initial deceit. Perhaps we shouldn't do much about cheating on exams, or papers, or articles (plagiarism) -- gosh, what's the difference? The grades and the credential don't really mean anything if, once in under the pretense, one can demonstrate competence on the job. Of course, that undercuts many of the premises for formal education, and then Ms. Jones wouldn't have had the job that she got ... Why should we have any admissions program, other than letting in anyone who wants in? (And use a lottery if there are more takers than slots.) Why should we ask anyone for credentials? ... Hmm ...

89. 2susan - December 09, 2009 at 04:41 pm

I agree with pot #88 regarding the victims. Also, who wants to deal with fakes in anything? Do you really prefer to be treated by a fake doctor, for example? Here's one who got caught --
---------------
Alleged Fake Doctor Arrested At Piedmont Hospital

Posted: 3:17 pm EDT May 29, 2008Updated: 3:54 pm EDT May 30, 2008
ATLANTA -- Police said a man posing as an emergency room doctor, even fooling his wife, was arrested last week at Piedmont Hospital.

"He told me he was a doctor as well as an electrical engineer," Tammi Perteet told WSB-TV Channel 2 reporter Diana Davis in an exclusive interview.
http://www.wsbtv.com/news/16427262/detail.html
---------------

Or would you prefer a fake dentist working on your teeth?

http://wcbstv.com/local/fake.brooklyn.dentist.2.663353.html

Feb 26, 2008 6:56 pm US/Eastern
CBS 2 HD Busts Fake Brooklyn Dentist
Former Patient 'On Verge Of Suicide' After Procedure Goes Awry
NEW YORK (CBS) ―

[Click to zoom.] Click to enlarge
1 of 1
Tanya Bolotina, the former patient of the fake dentist, Marina Lagunova, told CBS 2 HD that Luganova has been practicing dentistry for years inside her Brooklyn apartment.

A fake dentist who's allegedly been seeing patients for years out of her apartment is facing criminal prosecution after a former patient suffered through extreme physical and emotional pain following a procedure gone awry.

Officials didn't begin to take serious action until CBS 2 exclusively broke the story to them. ...
---------

I know people will say "Oh, being an admissions dean is not the same!"
Well, what if your genius kid is one who didn't get in because the fake dean couldn't recognize your kid's genius? Is it possible some kid was hurt by this fake dean? In addition to those who were qualified but didn't get this job, and the integrity of the education system at large?

I don't claim that everyone is perfect all the time, but fake credentials are a real and relevant problem in all professions -- including education.
And, I do believe such people should be criminally prosecuted, and required to return all the montary gain they received from their fraud.

Yet, according to this fraud from MIT -- the gifts of fraud just keep on giving!!!

90. nacrandell - December 09, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Interesting point Susan - academic fraud everywhere. Check out ACS (Affiliated Computer Services) and the Human Resources VP:

"Dr. Villarreal holds a bachelor of science degree in human resource management from Bellevue University, a master of science degree in administration and management from Central Michigan University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy and management from California Coast University."

All of these are from "non-traditional" schools and yet California Coast University does not list a Ph.D. program.

91. csl_mit87 - December 10, 2009 at 01:49 am

I wish her luck. I think she has paid the price, in full, for her deception. To those of you who disapprove of her consulting business, don't hire her.

92. eajmtp2 - December 10, 2009 at 08:57 am

The true irony is someone in admissions counseling selling students on the idea that they need degrees and then providing living proof that they don't - that is if they don't mind engaging in criminal fraud.

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