Jones, a 28-year veteran of the admissions office, listed degrees on her resume from three schools in upstate New York but did not earn any of them, an MIT spokeswoman said. The schools were Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Albany Medical College, and Union College.
In a prepared statement, Jones said she had "misled the Institute about my academic credentials" in applying for her first job at the school in 1979, and "did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since." She was appointed to lead the admissions office in 1998.
Several newspaper profiles of Jones, including those in the New York Times and Boston Globe, have reported that she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry and biology from RPI in Troy, N.Y. The registrar at RPI, Sharon Kunkel, said today that Jones attended the school but did not earn any degrees.
Spokespeople for Union College, in Schenectady, N.Y., and Albany Medical, in New York's capital, both said they had no record of Jones ever attending or receiving a degree from either school.
A biography of Jones at the Web site of the National Association of College Admission Counseling refers to her as "Dr. Marilee Jones, Ph.D." and says she has biology and chemistry degrees from RPI and Albany Medical. She was scheduled to speak at the association's annual conference in September.
The resignation was announced at 11:00 a.m. in a brief e-mail to the MIT community. "This is a sad and unfortunate event," Daniel E. Hastings, the dean for undergraduate education, said in a statement. "But the integrity of the Institute is our highest priority, and we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior."
Jones had been highly regarded in her field and widely praised for MIT's efforts to reduce the stress of college admissions. She redesigned the school's application to reflect her desire for applicants who make strong contributions to a few extracurricular activities rather than amass long lists of them. A book she co-wrote last year, "Less Stress, More Success," emphasized that theme.
Her statement today, which indicated she would have no further comment, apologized "for disappointing so many in the MIT community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities."
Imparting advice to high-school students in her 2006 book, Jones warned against "making up information to present yourself as something you are not." She wrote, "You must always be completely honest about who you are."
MIT said that Stuart Schmill, formerly senior associate director of admissions, has been named to replace Jones in the interim. The shakeup comes at the tail end of admissions season, with matriculation decisions due next week.
—Staff writer Zachary M. Seward can be reached at email@example.com.
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