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Truth to tell

Posted by David Mehegan  April 30, 2007 03:57 PM

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The strange case of Marilee Jones, the MIT dean of admissions who lost her job last week when it was revealed that she had hidden a lie about her educational background for 28 years, just got a little stranger, or sadder, or something, as Publishers Weekly's online edition reports that her book about college admissions has been selling better since she resigned/was fired.

The book is "Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Though College Admissions and Beyond," published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is still, apparently, a useful book. One wonders whether Jones's own experience, properly written about by her, might even make a useful coda to this book. Something about the tempations and fatal attractions of credentials of one kind or another. How many people have been tempted in this way, before, during, and after higher education or the military?

I used to have a job entitled, "Assistant to the Secretary of the University," at the University of Massachusetts. In putting together a resume later, I was tempted to make it "Assistant Secretary of the University." Just eliding the preposition and the definite article made it so much more impressive. And who would ever check? No, I didn't succumb. But I have in speech loosely referred to my "B.A," when the dark truth is that I have a "B.S." in English. The Suffolk University English Department would excuse you from the language requirement, but the dignified "A" would be replaced by the workaday "S," which might elicit sly joshing over what one did to earn one's degree.

Marilee Jones, whom I interviewed once for a Globe Magazine profile of former MIT president Charles Vest, is really a nice person, not more of a sinner than the rest of us. One hopes that from this fall she lands on her feet, no later than Don Imus inevitably will.

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