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MBA Programs

With MBA Applications Down, Wharton Admissions Director Resigns

Wharton's campus in Philadelphia

Photograph by Kendall Whitehouse/The Wharton School

Wharton's campus in Philadelphia

(Corrects name of Wharton School in first paragraph and Kumar's tenure as admissions director in second paragraph.)

The Wharton School MBA admissions director is resigning amid a sharp drop in applications.

Ankur Kumar, admissions director at Wharton for two years, will be replaced, effective Oct. 4, by Deputy Vice Dean Maryellen Lamb, according to a memo distributed Wednesday by Dean Tom Robertson and Vice Dean Howie Kaufold.

Wharton this year reported that MBA applications fell nearly 6 percent, triggering speculation that the school has “lost its luster,” but in an interview Kumar said that was “absolutely not” the reason she’s leaving.

“This is not an impetuous decision,” she said. “It’s one that has been going on for quite a few months. It’s completely unrelated to anything else that’s going on.”

Kumar has said that one reason for the drop in applications, which came amid a surge in applications at other top schools, was a new group-based admissions interview unveiled last year. The procedure, which involves applicants meeting in small groups to work as a team to solve a business problem, may have discouraged some applicants, although Wharton has not indicated it plans to abandon the new process. The idea came from Wharton’s “innovation group,” which fields ideas for improving business school processes.

Kumar did not disclose what she plans to do, saying in an e-mail to colleagues that she is “pursuing several different opportunities” in New York and has timed her departure to avoid disrupting the new application cycle.

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Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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