Off With Her Head

OFF WITH HER HEAD….I’m curious: what do people think about the MIT dean story? MIT officials recently discovered that Marilee Jones, their dean of admissions, lied on her resume 28 years ago and does not, in fact, have a college degree. So they fired her:

“There are some mistakes people can make for which ‘I’m sorry’ can be accepted, but this is one of those matters where the lack of integrity is sufficient all by itself,” [Chancellor Phillip] Clay said. “This is a very sad situation for her and for the institution. We have obviously placed a lot of trust in her.”

Needless to say, point taken. But isn’t there also a point here about credentialism run amok? Everything I’ve read about this case suggests that Jones was not just a good dean of admissions, but something of a superstar dean of admissions. Given that, is the fact that she lied about her credentials three decades ago for an entry-level job really that big a deal?

Not being an academic myself, maybe I just don’t realize how serious this situation is. But from my perch outside the academy, it’s hard not to think that this didn’t necessarily require the death penalty. Surely there was something MIT could have done to demonstrate it took this seriously without also losing a valued and high performing member of its administration?

UPDATE: Reaction in comments is virtually unanimous: I’m wrong. In fact, firing might have been too good for her….