MIT's Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones resigned today after the Institute learnt that she had "misrepresented her credentials on her resume 28 years ago in 1979, when she applied for her first job at MIT," according to the MIT Admissions blog. Jones had been Dean of Admissions at MIT since 1997 and I have heard many times, first as a graduate student at MIT between 1999 and 2004, and later as an alumna, of her tireless efforts to help high school students navigate the college admission process. I believe (although I am not completely sure) that she coined the term "helicopter parents" to describe the over-protective moms and dads - at Lehigh I have even heard of "black hawk parents", and we're not talking about birds. Jones had openly voiced concerns about the pressures the admission process puts on students, and she had struck me as well-intentioned and down-to-earth, a nice woman intent on helping others.
Which brings me to my next point. Am I the only one to feel the timing is a bit odd? Come on, people, you know what I am talking about. All over the country, admission and rejection letters to the Class of 2011 were mailed in late March and most admits have until May 1 to reach a decision. The New York Times states that "the college received information questioning Ms Jones's academic background about 10 days ago." I wouldn't be surprised if an angry parent, furious that his or her kid didn't make the cut at the Institute, had looked up close at the credentials of the person who signed the letter. (After all, you need to blame someone.) She has served the Institute tirelessly for 28 years, and here she is now, being dumped unceremoniously because she was dishonest 28 years ago. Of course you can say that dishonest people remain dishonest for life. You can also say that young college graduates are insecure and want a job very badly. (MIT might not have had a choice. The angry parent could have leaked the information to the media and accused MIT of cover up if it had let Jones resign quietly.) What I say is: assuming the parent of a rejected applicant is indeed behind this sad story, I feel sorry for that parent's kid. Nobody should have to grow up witnessing that amount of hatred for people who stand in the way of the kid's imagined victory - at least in Little League the referee knows where the insults are coming from. Because, dear parent, MIT rejected your kid and nothing will change that, not even the head of Marilee Jones on a platter.