I always think there is something to learn from these stories. The article is about Marilee Jones, the Dean of Admissions at MIT, resigning because she had lied about her academic qualifications: she had no undergraduate degree. The article states: ‘On the campus, where Ms. Jones was widely admired, almost revered, for her humor, outspokenness and common sense, students and faculty members alike seemed both saddened and shocked.’ Apparently Ms. Jones had received the institute’s highest honor for administrators, the M.I.T. Excellence Award for Leading Change (but not this sort of change, I assume…).
As Stephen Downes writes: “Sure, you can’t (legally) get the job without a degree. But it certainly appears that you can do the job without one.”
I haven’t seen an example recently, but a while back there were lots of reports of individuals impersonating doctors, and being well liked, and apparently competent. And of course, there are lots of doctors highly competent in areas in which they have no ‘certification’. Then there are researchers and academics…
The more interesting story here, is not so much the one about honesty, but about why competency is seen as being less important than credentials (that are in turn deemed essential for competency). Paul Graham says some fascinating things about credentials, and the way they can slow advance, here.