As the education bubble nears explosion: “We will keep our caste system airtight.”

Phillip L. Clay, M.I.T.’s chancellor, said in an interview that a college degree was probably not required for Ms. Jones’s entry-level job in the admissions office when she arrived in 1979. And by the time she was appointed admissions dean in 1997, Professor Clay said, she had already been in the admissions office for many years, and apparently little effort was made to check what she had earlier presented as her credentials.

“In the future,” he said, “we will take a big lesson from this experience.”

via Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie – New York Times.

According to Wikipedia:

Marilee Jones (born June 12, 1951) is a former dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the co-author of the popular guide to the college admission process Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006).[1] The book received critical acclaim and Jones was featured on CBS, National Public Radio, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,[2] and The Boston Globe.[3] Jones resigned from her position in 2007 when it became known she had fabricated her academic degrees from Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on a job application in 1979 and she had added a fabricated degree to her resume from Albany Medical College sometime “after she was hired.”[4] The Times characterized Jones’s earlier prestige as “the guru of the movement to tame the college-admissions frenzy.”[5] The Boston Globe called her “the most celebrated and outspoken admissions dean in America.”[6]

In 2001, Jones received MIT’s Excellence Award for Leading Change, which recognized Jones’s leadership as dean of admissions. An excerpt from the presentation reads:

Because of Marilee’s leadership and passion, the message of: “science in the service of mankind,” now resonates among generations of students. She helps students understand that they have a responsibility as members of society, to utilize their skills and talents to make a difference in the world. Marilee has also been visionary in her approach towards admissions strategies and processes, incorporating faculty and alumni perspectives, and the concerns and interests of prospective students and their parents.[24]

Jones also received MIT’s Gordon Y. Billard Award “for special service of outstanding merit performed for the Institute”[25] in 2006.

The NY Times piece also reports:

Rachel Ellman, who studies aerospace engineering, said, “I feel like she’s irreplaceable.”

Ms. Jones had received the institute’s highest honor for administrators, the M.I.T. Excellence Award for Leading Change, and many college admissions officers and high school college counselors said yesterday that whatever her personal shortcomings, her efforts deserved respect.

“She’s been working and presenting a lot of important ideas about our business,” said Rod Skinner, director of college counseling at Milton Academy, the Massachusetts prep school. “What I’m hoping is that the quality of the research and the book will hold up.”

Ms. Jones was hired by the admissions office in 1979 to recruit young women, who at the time made up only 17 percent of the institute’s undergraduates, compared with nearly half today.

Since she entered the field, admissions to M.I.T. and other elite institutions have become increasingly competitive, and she made her mark with her efforts to turn down the flame of competition.

But don’t worry the educational establishment is dealing carefully with the important lessons learned here:

Jones’ case demonstrates flaws in the hiring and promotion systems currently in place at MIT. It may be unreasonable to expect the Institute to thoroughly check the background of all new employees at all levels. But it is the Institute’s responsibility to find a practical solution so that this kind of situation does not arise again.

Right. We can’t let people know our academic requirements are nothing but union gates to artificially lift up our prestige and pay scales. We can’t let people know that our education system is just another caste prison that exists for the sake of those who are presently in power.

Take the red pill, people.

3 thoughts on “As the education bubble nears explosion: “We will keep our caste system airtight.”

  1. pentamom

    I dunno. I’m ambivalent about this. Certainly it’s wrong to fire someone who’s obviously been competent because she didn’t have a degree.

    But I don’t take so dim a view of firing someone because she was initially hired under false pretenses. I suppose there ought to be a kind of statute of limitations in a case like this, but part of me doesn’t care all that much if the punishment for blatant resume faking is nuclear. I would probably feel a little differently if this story had started in 1990, but in 1979, I don’t believe that a college degree for an entry level position like would have had such an absolute requirement for a degree that it would have been a moral hazard. The Chancellor said as much.

  2. mark Post author

    I’m not defending what she did. I’m attacking what I (rightly or wrongly) perceive as an unwillingness to recognize the artificiality of the system.

  3. pentamom

    No, I know you’re not defending what she did. I’m asking whether what’s at issue with Ms. Jones is primarily the system that leans too heavily on credentials (which it does) or the system that considers hiring on false pretenses grounds for termination at any future point (which I’m much more sympathetic to.)

    IOW, I’m just not sure the example makes your point, which is an excellent one on other grounds.


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