Saturday, April 28, 2007

Marilee Jones: Shock, Sadness and Dispair

I have a hard time describing my emotions when I heard about Marilee Jones. I am saddened for her, the students of and applicants to MIT and her family. Each of them are suffering a great loss, for whatever the reason, from her leaving the position she has held for decades. Did she bring it upon herself? Absolutely, but that does not lessen the impact that she has had on the college admissions community nor the impact of the loss of her voice in the profession. She had a message that needed to be said and was able to be heard both because of the person she is, the position she held, the message she delivered and the consistency and firmness of her convictions. I honestly believe she moved the college admissions process in a more humane direction. I can't count how many times I have quoted her in presentations, writings and publications. Am I disappointed? Yes. Dissolusioned? No. Someone wrote to me comparing her dismissal as a Pete Rose moment, but for me it is more of a John Kennedy moment. I can hear the responses now: "She disgraced herself", "She showed a lack of integrity and honestly while preaching about ways of maintaining those qualities in the college admissions community." And, I can't disagree. But I can't help but feel sadness upon the loss of a leader with a message and a vision of sanity, compassion and concern. I truly fear that disillusionment with the person will translate into dismissal of the message and that would be a huge loss to our community. Certainly there are those, Lloyd Thacker the most vocal among them, who have dedicated their lives to changing how colleges act to recruit and select students. But Marilee's message was directed much more to the parents and students of how to live their lives. She went school to school (including ours) and town to town to deliver her message in a way that was engaging and effective. There is this true void now that I feel with a great amount of sorrow. There are a number of leaders who have shown poor judgment, (Gary Hart, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon), whose accomplishments were overshadowed by their errors in judgment. I hope that the disappointment I believe we all harbor to some extent or another does not cause us to minimize the extent of Marilee's contributions or power of her message.

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