Wharton AdCom Makes An Abrupt Exit

Ankur Kumar is leaving as Wharton's MBA admissions director

Ankur Kumar is leaving as Wharton’s MBA admissions director

Five days after a critical story on Wharton in The Wall Street Journal, Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Ankur Kumar has resigned her job.

Kumar, who had been in the position for just two years, apparently told staff last week that she was resigning. In a note to colleagues on Wednesday–two days before the publication of the Journal article–Kumar said she had been “pursuing several different opportunities in New York City in the past few months.”

In a blog post today to Wharton’s prospective applicants, Kumar announced that her last day would be Oct. 4. “As they say, all good things must come to an end, and after nearly five years–and one of the most professionally and personally rewarding experiences–it’s time for new adventures,” wrote Kumar.

The timing of her announcement is both unusual and awkward, coming only one day after Wharton’s round one deadline.  “It’s like Santa Claus quitting on Dec. 24th after spending the summer touring shopping malls around the world asking toddlers what they wanted for Christmas,” said Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com, a leading MBA admissions consultant.


“This is not a decision I made impetuously; I did not want to start an application cycle that I could not commit to finishing. Nothing would be less fair to you, to my team, the school, and our alumni and other important stakeholders. It has been an absolute privilege to serve my alma mater in this role and a true honor to bring five incredible classes to the MBA program.”

Her abrupt resignation means that the school will end up having five different admission directors in just eight years, a highly unusual amount of turnover at such a prominent business school. Her predecessor, J.J. Cutler, also left after two years in 2011, only to return to Aramark where he had worked as marketing. Thomas Caleel took over the job in 2005 with the departure of Rose Martinelli who left for the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. But Caleel left within three years in 2008.

In an Oct. 2 memo to students and faculty, Wharton School Dean Tom Robertson said that the admissions team will continue to operate under Maryellen Lamb, the school’s former careers director who was named deputy vice dean in September for M.B.A. admissions, financial aid and career management.


To her credit, Kumar helped to lead Wharton to record female enrollment, even when applications were declining. For years, the percentage of women enrolled in top-ranked business schools stubbornly remained in the 33% to 36% range. Kumar helped Wharton assume a lead over all top schools three years ago by putting together an incoming class that was composed of 40% women. The following year she did even better, pushing the number of first-year women to 45% of the class. “It’s a pretty significant accomplishment especially during a downward trend in application volume,” added Stacey Oyler, an admissions consultant with Clear Admit.

And though applications continued to decline this past year, the MBA class that entered this fall boasts record GMAT scores–a 725 average, up seven points from the previous year.

Dean Robertson noted her accomplishments in his memo today. “Under Ankur’s leadership,” he wrote, “the MBA program reached record breaking enrollment of women, with an unprecedented five years in a row of 40% or more women in the class. In addition, the entrepreneurial community grew triple fold. Under Ankur, MBA Admissions also emerged as an innovator in evaluation, with the successful launch of the Team Based Discussion as part of the admissions process last year. Ankur has been an outstanding administrator, an exemplar alumna, and an important asset to the school.”

Still, for Kumar, who joined Wharton’s admissions staff as senior associate director in 2009, it has been a turbulent ride. In the past five years, applications to Wharton’s MBA program have fallen by 17.2%. Kumar had earlier attributed the decline to new competition from B-schools in Europe and Asia. But while many rival schools also suffered declines, the falloffs have not been nearly as steep and in the past year applications to many peer schools have turned around. Not at Wharton where the school had a 5.8% drop. Rival Chicago Booth reported a 10% increase. Finance rival and powerhouse Columbia Business School had a 7% rise, and Harvard was also up, with a more modest 4% increase.

Many believe her decision to leave was prompted by year after year of application declines. “I’m sorry to see her go,” said Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com, another prominent admissions consulting firm. “It is not unusual for admissions directors to resign or be “reassigned” if applications dip. My guess is that she decided to go before she was shown the door.”

  • avivalasvegas

    Its been 8 months Ms. James and I read that the “obscure” politician, as YOU referred to Mr. Modi, now leads the largest Democracy in the world. I’ve been waiting for the Indian election results to say that you are an absolute and total fool, a myopic bigot who wouldn’t understand the meaning of diversity if it was explained to you by Dr. King and Gandhi together.

  • Thanks, Ace!

  • avivalasvegas

    My mistake 🙂

  • SADtruth

    anyway, I do not like indians in america. They seem to have a “struggling identity”

  • Shaniqua James

    It’s not hard to research this because various online organs of the Indian press covered it to death, which is strange because it’s unlikely anyone in the US would get worked up if Scott Walker were denied an opportunity to speak at one of the IITs.

    Ghosh teaches social work at Penn and the other two, Loomba and Kaul, teach in Penn’s English Dept., specializing in postcolonial theory and feminism — the usual nonsense found in humanities departments.

    Modi was invited to Wharton by an organization of Indian students. Those students came under pressure from other non-Wharton Indians at Penn to rescind Modi’s invitation and they capitulated. You mistakenly assign blame to the school when it was your fellow Indian business school students who made the decision. You should take it up with them. Here are some names I found in Linkedin: Alvira Rao, Neha Mittal, Salil Gupta, Pranshu Maheshwari, Karan Sharma, Jalaj Garg, Raju Penmatcha. Good luck!

  • somo

    You mean IMD is the TUCK of europe 😉

  • avivalasvegas

    I’d pick NYU over Yale…but it’d be close. I’d pick Tuck over both but not over any of the M7 (top 5) schools. But that’s just me. I can see you’re proud of your institution and I don’t blame you. I’m proud of mine.

    But when you discount every major ranking save one and discount schools like Kellogg, Columbia and Sloan, you instantly lose credibility.

    To me, Tuck is like the IMD of the United States. Focused, credible, small and in the middle of nowhere. It takes a very special person to wanna go to Tuck over the higher ranked programs. And they probably deserve to be there.

    Cheers mate!

  • avivalasvegas

    Your web search skills are impressive. Are you a consultant? I won’t waste more time debating with you because you’re clearly reactive and ignorant, a sad combination.

    I also won’t speak about the faculty you mention because I don’t know much about Wharton faculty. But I will say that some of the best faculty at my institution were “allowed in” from other countries. The perspectives they bought into the classroom were new to Americans and internationals alike and probably beyond the comprehension of the close minded .

  • IESE Believer

    Betsy, I applied and got into IESE in Barcelona, who helped Wharton model their team-based interview on the IESE ‘Assessment Day’. In my experience, the majority of applicants got through. I honestly don’t think the students are competing against each other any more than they would be on the normal application.

    The experience was great. I got to see the case-method first-hand in addition to getting a feel for the school’s teaching method. It cemented my interest in the school. Also, by putting the applicants chosen for the interview together, I got a feel for what profiles the school was looking for. I felt like I belonged among them.

    Throughout the process, the adcoms stressed that we weren’t competing against each other and made an effort to talk with everyone. The assessment was a combination of many activities that forced practically everyone to participate. Even if I did not get in, I would have thought it was a fantastic experience.

    In the end, its a superior way to better understand the applicants instead of just an essay and resume.

  • PN

    You should work on your own English.

  • LoveTUCK

    sorry, but you are also weighing the location more than its accurate weight. Based on your rationale, someone should pick UCLA or NYU over Duke or Yale. But that is not true at all. Yes, I understand a bit that you mean the location is a differentiating factor when comparing schools that are in same league. However, I still consider (and many actually) Tuck a top 5 school and nick to nick to Harvard and Stanford. For me, it is definitely away ahead of Columbia, Kellogg, and slightly better than Sloan. While you can earn Wharton MBA, Columbia MBA, and Stanford MS, in many different and easier ways (EMBAs, PT MBAs, ..etc), Tuck, however, offers only one degree Full Time MBA, it is the FLAGSHIP of the school and ALL the school’s resources dedicated to this degree. More, it is small class, not a mass production. People who are looking for real, premium, and original MBA experience, should go for Tuck.

  • Shaniqua James

    Doesn’t look like a scandal to me. Certain very peculiar Indian faculty members at Penn (Toorjo Ghosh, Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul) opposed Modi’s appearance on the ground that Modi has blood on his hands. He does. He isn’t allowed into this country and the shame is that freaks like Ghosh, Loomba and Kaul were allowed in and provided faculty positions at an American university. I’m not very interested in hearing either side of the question.

  • LoveTUCK

    No, and sorry. It is at the same level of the M7, if not even higher than some of them (Kellogg and MIT in particular). and why ignore economist ranking? despite some of its ridiculous (or we consider it ridiculous because its results challenge the status quo that we used to know), yet, it is a considerable ranking and I have the right to argue based on it. It is even included as major ingredients of P&Q rankings. You can not be selective based on your own preferences.

  • avivalasvegas

    But its the Economist! Try Business week or U.S. News or even Poets and Quants rankings instead and you’ll get a more accurate picture. Again, dont get me wrong. I love Tuck. I just think it isn’t at the same level as the M7 schools.

  • avivalasvegas

    If you go past your topical understanding and dig a little bit deeper, you’ll see that he is no obscure politician – there is a very high probability that he will lead 1/6th of the world’s population soon – and that the events that surrounding his removal from the forum are brimming with scandal. Don’t justify your lack of awareness by labeling international events as uninteresting or unimportant to other Americans. Any sharp business school student, American or International, knows that the days of global ignorance are over. You should learn this fact while you still can.

  • MBAApplicant

    To look at the bright side, this also could prove to be a great opportunity for those who have Wharton as their top choice. And also for those who would not have considered applying previously. I’m not a finance person myself but I find myself intrigued by their health care management program, and all this negative press may actually make it a great time to give it a shot. Wharton is still Wharton, even if it slips.

  • Shaniqua James!!!

    Then why are you worried about some obscure Indian politician being denied an opportunity to speak at Wharton? Doesn’t make sense. It’s revealing that you believe Wharton’s reputation suffered as a result of refusing him an opportunity to appear at their forum. I had no idea he even existed till yesterday.

  • LoveTUCK

    the economist ranking places Tuck first or top 2. That is enough for the passionate to consider it top 5 🙂

  • avivalasvegas

    You’re welcome to! I think the rankings tend to keep tuck between rank 6-9 on most occasions but that’s just one way of evaluating a school. In my opinion, Tuck will never be a top 5 program because of its location. Place a school like Tuck in a major city and you’ve now got a top 5 program.

  • LoveTUCK

    Sorry I disagree. Tuck is clearly top 5 school.

  • avivalasvegas

    I think Tuck’s a great program – I’ve said before that the only major obstacle the school faces is geography. I’d call it a top 7 program easily, on par with Columbia.

  • avivalasvegas

    This is MY country too. And I’ll gladly welcome any contributing member of society, immigrant or otherwise, to it. Every single one of us are here because someone in their bloodline had to triumph over protectionist, close minded, entitled individuals like yourself. Fortunately for all of us, your kind is a dying breed.

  • Kumar2

    thats right, most americans think the known world is only between the two costs, what outside that is Mars and another universe.

  • Simone

    an expected reply from a typical wharton alumni! always insist on side things and forget the main points.

  • Shaniqua James!!!

    Now I get it. OK, but you do realize that no American cares whether Modi was denied an opportunity to speak at Wharton, no American cares whether some guy writing for “India Real Time” chose to boycott a conference at Wharton and no American has the slightest interest in attending or hearing about a Wharton India Economic Forum?

  • haapi

    Good to hear your perspective, hermano. Some of my clients, who went into the TBD kicking and screaming (for the reasons already mentioned) also came out realizing that this format was/is very good for filtering out the jerks and letting them shine even though English is not their first language. Though I did work with several applicants who chose not to apply to Wharton (again, reasons already covered), the ones who did go through with it all made it, and are really quite happy. Personally, I think it is a brilliant format for Wharton even though it makes my job much harder 😉

  • peopleandmore

    typical arrogant doucehbag wharton alumni. Thank you for your too much seriousness.

  • Jimmy

    Is there any “Bear the pressure and criticisms” class at Wharton ? 🙂

  • Missioninja

    All things being equal, HBS and GSB enjoy tremendous name recognition from association with the parent university. In comparison, the UPenn brand can’t do the same for Wharton.

  • inchicago

    I’m a student at Booth and along with many of my classmates, had to choose between Wharton and Booth (and Kellogg). I almost chose Wharton because the brand is still stronger in my home country (Latam). Nowadays, I’m very happy I chose Booth and can see the brand of the school rising by the… days? Still, I feel like people are being way too hard on Wharton. I have a bunch of friends there and none of them are entitled brats. Actually, only one of my friends is a prep school/Princeton stereotype guy and he’s just the most genuine and nice person I know. People need to stop with this idea that the top schools are full of “trapped elitism”. People at Booth are completely down to earth. Intense, focused, competitive… but definitely not entitled. Same with all the other schools, even HBS has mostly hard working kids. To say that kids on the top 5 or so schools are entitled and elitist is completely misguided. You should all go to a developing country and see what rich and entitled kids are really like. Hint: they don’t even finish high school, let alone get into a top business school.

  • Shaniqua James

    MY country’s gospel of diversity is misapplied when it’s applied to everyone on the planet. Also, you have no reason to expect every hood rat to meet you at customs with a student visa or H1B tied up in a bow.

  • ivyivy

    CBS is on the rise.. many start up founders in nyc are cbs alums and of course hf/pe/vc
    and with the new campus coming …. CBS will be top

  • Wharton Alumi

    Proper English please if you want to be taken seriously.

  • Wharton Alumni

    Can you at least make your subjects and verbs agree. You are obviously not going to get into Wharton or any of the schools you are touting. Visiting and being invited are two completely different scenarios. So until you are posting with an acceptance letter from one of the top schools – can you just go take the GMAT again? All 92,000 of us would appreciate it. Wharton Alumni

  • RecentAlum

    If you look back at relative rankings of business schools, they ebb and flow with the relative strength of their “target industries”. During the tech crash, MBA satisfaction with Stanford and Berkeley were awful. During the finance crash, Wharton has suffered.

    As a recent Wharton grad with friends at Stanford, Harvard, Tuck, Berkeley, Kellogg, and MIT, the clearest message that one can send to perspective applicants is that business school is not a panacea. People generally apply to business school because their careers have lagged or they’ve burned out on the industry (typically consulting of banking) in which they’ve slaved for the past two years. Of these individuals, maybe 1/4 of them are focused and self-aware enough to intelligently and strategically pursue the vast resources at each of these schools. A student could leave any of these schools an absolute wizard at real estate, marketing, finance, general management, etc because of the depth of the faculty and the world class reputation of the larger university to which the business school belongs.

    As for the remaining 3/4, they will half-heartedly fumble through classes, fully take advantage of generous grading systems and grade non-disclosure, and party like fiends while paying $50k/yr in tuition.

    At the end of the day, both groups are generally very satisfied. Some find true love. Some just find a job in consulting 🙂

    One thing that isn’t very often discussed is that each top business school sends about 50% of its class into consulting (typically at least 30%) and finance jobs. If either of these industries pulls back hiring, you’ll see some big waves in business school land.

    Also remember that when it comes to Wharton, the school sends more students to tech firms like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yelp, Facebook, eBay, etc than ANY other business school. From the conversations that I had with these firms while recruiting, technology firms are increasingly data driven and make decisions based more on rigorous analysis and less on martini lunches. As such, the data driven nature of Wharton’s curriculum, which pervades every department and is often mischaracterized as finance, greatly appeals tech firms who have been very pleased with Wharton alums and are increasing their recruiting efforts at the school.

  • hermano123

    I’d like to give my two cents as it seems many people here have never taken the TBD interview.

    I’m an international student, and frankly didn’t like the idea of a TBD for the reasons assumed by all the consultants and hopefuls who posted here.
    HOWEVER, after having actually taken it last year, I do think that it was the best interview process in all schools I applied.

    First, it simulates a team based discussion as will happen at any school. If you can’t handle it, then don’t go to a US B-School.

    Second, it does a great job at filtering jerks. My teammates during itw had all outstanding profiles and were polished enough to be accepted by any 1-1 interview, no questions asked. BUT in team with peers they showed how much of total jerks they could be, and no other school sees through it in their scripted interviews.

    In the end I got accepted, but went to MIT Sloan instead. I didn’t like Wharton so much for personal reasons (although I still think it’s a great school, for finance), but have to say that the TBD is actually quite nice, especially for internationals (spoiler alert, in the end they accept as many internationals each year).

  • HRinterested

    does anyone know how much wharton pay for this position? just wondering cuz she hold an MBA from Wharton?

  • haapi

    Sorry–before the TBD. Much of it is because of the travel, but I think that some were/are simply intimidated and/or just didn’t want to deal with the extra layer of work when they’re already applying to several schools.

  • RealFact

    and definitely the fluency in english does not mean by any mean the leadership!

  • simonLE

    in the very top 1 or 1+ 🙂 (not kidding, I see tuck better than HBS)

  • So True

    Where would Tuck fit in your hierarchy?

  • So True

    I have to agree with Shaniqua…… i am a non-native English speaker who was raised in Canada…….. In my work i interact with lots of non-native speakers and find that they are not collaborative, fear to share information, and mingle ONLY with other non-native speakers……. i agree that stats are important, but how can you build a leader of tomorrow who is only good on paper???

  • Thanks for the articulate perspective. This is really helpful. Would be very much interested in hearing more from current or recent Wharton students.

  • Dutch Ducre

    what up shaniqua?

  • JohnAByrne

    Sure. Will do tomorrow morning.

  • anon

    that was my same experience when i visited last year. the worst part was when a student (white male, former Goldman Sachs, Princeton alum, typical wasp) said that he knew Wharton was the right place for him because “everyone was the same as me.” It made me want to vomit. i basically met a bunch of spoiled, entitled rich kids that day (both students and applicants). plus, every alum i talked with told me the teaching quality was crap, and i saw it first hand in one of the courses.

  • Charley

    John: can you share some thoughts on the INSEAD new dean appointment, where he will be (for the first time) based in Singapore campus not France!! do you see any signals here not only from INSEAD but from the business education prospective? thank you

  • avivalasvegas

    I’ve never met a biggot named Shaniqua before. Times really are a changing!

  • hbsguru

    Over what? I was asking for clarification on an issue that is being batted around here from someone who seems to be a reliable source of info.

  • Shaniqua James

    I never heard decent English from the foreigners at my b-school alma mater except from the Oxonians and Cantabrigians.

  • EuroApplicant

    drink more of lemonade Sandy! you seem to be very angry !

  • hbsguru

    Turned them off from beginning an application? Or turned them off once they underwent the TBD? Why would Euro applicants with very good English be turned off? The travel part? Didn’t they plan on traveling to US schools as part of the process anyway? Altho, sure, they may have preff’d to do that at their own time.

  • DFR454

    NO, the problem is that she is too young and (sorry) so naive.

  • jukolam

    Ankur is a class act. Wharton has always had many adcom people inaccessible and rude, and she and Thomas Caleel helped changed that image. The problem is probably that the essays are tough,and selling Philadelphia is also tough (I like the city myself).

  • haapi

    Sandy–As someone whose client base is virtually all non-U.S. applicants,
    I can concur that, sadly, the TBD did turn off a lot of international
    applicants. Including (ahem, Shaniqua) ones whose English is really very good.

  • hbsguru

    TBD as Sniffing device: it was not about “faking enthusiasm,” they asked where else you were applying, when, what your plans were, etc. Other schools do that too, including H and S, but that was part of the vibe of those last 10-15 minutes when they ‘allegedly’ were getting to know you. I use the word “sniffing” intentionally, it was not a formal, 3rd degree cop show kind of thing, but they were trying to pick up facts and a vibe. I was, also, in part rebutting the, ahem, protracted and hair-splitting suggestion of my consultant peers that the TBD discouraged applications–that I don’t buy, most applicants cross that bridge when they get there, in this case, after they apply.

  • Markus

    the school that copied IMD approach in the interview process is Cambridge University MBA, they call all the selected applicants for what they call it an interview day. I see it very appealing for students looking for more personal attention and not just part of huge factory MBAs.. and yes it drive the yield rate and adds certain kind of intimacy..

  • avivalasvegas

    Wow Shaniqua! You got all kinds of the positive, welcoming attitude that Wharton is famous for. You should definitely apply

  • avivalasvegas
  • For what it’s worth, a client now at Wharton told me he barely got a word in during his TBD. Nor did he feel he showed his best at the one-to-one. So at least we can take them for their word that the Wharton interview is only ONE data point.

  • SILVIOberlusconi

    have you considered a career in adult entertainment?

  • AS

    total agree. I was doing my linkedin research (my interest is in automobile), all and every Wharton person is a finance type of manager.

  • AS

    I just want to add a little bit from the school visit perspective…I’m an applicant and I visited Stanford/Columbia/Berkeley/Wharton. My career is in marketing.

    The Wharton School visit was the least organized. The lunch with students and chat with students were cancelled because no students were available. The campus tour was awkward where the front desk person gave us a 30 minute walk and she didn’t know much about the school. The class I sit in was about some type of international management, there were a total of 6 students in the class, everyone but one student was checking their facecbook all the time. The class was very dry, prof pretty read out his ppt the whole time. After the class the student who actually listened to the class apologized to us and encouraged us to apply for Wharton. At the end of the day there was a student-run Q&A session, where the particular student sounds very arrogant (or proud of Wharton) about being a privileged Wharton student. I asked about the diversity of the school in business functions other than finance, and he said it was great, everyone is welcomed. But he is a finance type and a former McK consultant, so not very convincing. After the school visit, I still like the school only because of the ‘brand’, but I’m not motivated to apply to it anymore.

    This compared to Stanford/Columbia visit was night and day difference. I felt incredible energy, intelligent class discussion and the humble/helpful students welcoming us at those two schools.

  • Shaniqua James

    If they were gonna make her walk the plank for a drop in applications, which I see as completely meaningless (most of those non-applicants never stood a chance), they should have done it sooner. Better late than never, I suppose.

    I find it impossible to believe that TBD works as a “sniffing device,” as HBSguru suggests. Everyone who applies to b-school knows how to pretend enthusiasm in an interview. I remember doing that in a Columbia interview, much to my disgust. Harvard/Stanford or bust!

    Final point: anything that discourages foreign students from applying is simply wonderful. May they all take their much higher quant scores on the GMAT to Oxford or Cambridge and learn some English.

  • Indeed, Sir Sandy. Indeed.

  • hbsguru

    TBD increased yield because the Wharton adcom used it as “sniffing device” in the crucial 10 minutes they spoke to you alone after the group grope, according to several post-event reports fr. clients. That and one of the most tactical Wait Lists among the Big 6. MANY cases of kids “in” at HBS and WL at Wharton, fair enuf, but just saying. The actual TBD was NOT that impt. and mostly filtered out applicants with extreme-ish language and behavior problems. The fact that you concur with Ankur’s explanation about TBD = self-selection??? Well, do you believe her statement that she was planning to leave for months and just announced it NOW, and that she was “shocked, shocked” to find a Wall St Journal article amid the actual timing eco-system of announcements, as per gambling in Casablanca?
    You make excellent points that higher ups at Wharton need to “own” this, and yes, to some extent she is taking the fall for a lot things beyond her control. Sheinwald’s summary of this in the article in chief was perceptive and a good starter list.

    Welcome to high-profile middle management at any major brand. SHE SPENT YEARS GETTING INSTANT “CREDIT” AND RESPECT FOR THINGS SHE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH EITHER. I never met her personally, but I also agree, from reports, that she was lively and engaged and funny and might be your choice of a seatmate on a long flight versus many other adcom heads. Her public persona, however, was less impressive and her public statements about the admission process and Wharton and even her departure were tone-deaf and often scripted to a rhetorical style about 15 years out of fashion. Like Mitt Romney trying to talk about apps and the internet. To the extent she was responsible for those current two application questions, and as you helpfully add, a 1500 word recommendation form (and a moronic one to boot), well, those acts alone are blunders of a major kinds for an adcom, one of whose major jobs is creating just those docs. Compare Martin Luther King applying to H/S/W: at H and S he says what matters most to him and what was not in his formal app, was his ‘dream,’ and his magnificent sense of that “dream” can be captured in the essays. At Wharton he is reduced to saying that educational equality is something he would like to share with his classmates in courses like Social Enterprise 101 and cross registering with the Ed School. Not the same, is it???

    HBS and Stanford are inviting you to think big, Wharton is demanding that you think tiny.

    That, my friends, is lightening in a bottle, and that example alone is a near firing offense. Not because Martin Luther King needs an MBA but because the admissions director is so very out of it. Academic administrative culture, despite all its hot air about equality and modernity, is really Medieval, with a set of tenured Lords and some liberated serfs (one might even say House Serfs). The admissions committee are in this set up, the serfs to the tenured deans, etc. So yes, she may have gotten a raw deal, and it may take a while for the Trustees (don’t hold your breath) to start asking hard questions to Robinson et. al. and the dope professor whose actual job is to ‘manage’ Wharton’s brand, such a guy exists, seriously, see the story about WSJ article in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the school newspaper which does a nice job of rounding up some giggle-worthy “What Me Worry?” quotes from many Wharton faculty members. .
    A last set of issues is mega and beyond anyone’s control. Wharton is attached to U Penn and HBS and Stanford are attached to well . . .
    to some extent, the school had been punching above its weight for years and years (along with the long, long finance bull market) and that is the real story, what is happening now is a correction, to some extent, to the new normal — altho, the reputation of gold level grad schools attached to silver universities is a mighty interesting question for another day and time. A last issue is money. I don’t know the most accurate way to measure a B school endowment, is it absolute size, or size per student or size per faculty member, etc. Whatever metrics you use, my guess is, Wharton might not come out so hot.

    Wharton’s most powerful and impactful alum, Donald Trump (and daughter) used to do a great job pushing the school on his TV shows, seriously, although laugh if you want. Those shows are also down in the ratings. Another bad break.

    Finally, sure, this is a lot of media dust, and when it settles, you will still have a great business school and people lining up trying to get in. But make no mistake about it, something just happened, and is continuing to happen.

  • Wharton, the reality show. Love it ^ ^

    Maybe some brave admissions director will implement a full day interview like IMD. Now THAT would drive yield!

  • I see that for those who are too shy >> the message is “don’t bother applying” but there are others who are just worried that the team discussion/interview just means that the person who hogs airtime wins. And that can be a turn off.
    My concern about the team-based interview is that not everyone would get a chance to show their stuff. But in fact, and maybe this needs to be made clear, the facilitators (interviewers?) do go around the room asking everyone to contribute in order, right?
    The other thing, and this is kind of visceral, I’m not sure I’d want to be in an interview with people I am competing with for a spot. It feels a bit like Survivor. And I say this after 2 yrs at HBS and a career on Wall Street!

  • Yes, sorry. TBD = team based dis, not “to be announced” 🙂

    TBD helps yield b/c those who want to avoid a new interview style do not apply. Self-selection. At least that is how Ankur explained it in June, right?

    Pass the popcorn!

  • TBD=Team Based Discussions?

    Great point on yield. It’s self-evident when you think about it — yes a school does better when a greater percentage of those who are accepted attend, but that’s not the headline number. The universe talks about selectivity, when that’s just of one side of the coin. I would like to see more people talking about yield.

    Having said that, help me here, why do does the team-based interview help yield?

    And yes, the essay questions were a bit hard to decipher and not very fun. But I find it hard to believe that someone who is interested in Wharton would NOT apply because of a semi-opaque essay question. What on earth does that say about the quality of the commitment?
    Anyway, not trying to drag out this conversation (although if you get the aisle seat, I get the popcorn), but just trying to understand.

  • Good points on TBD, Betsy. My int’l clients who want Wharton apply to Wharton, regardless of TBD.

    Last year, Wharton seemed to want to boost yield, and TBD helped them do that. R1 yield was up, as we heard in June.

    Maybe next year they will simplify essays (and RECOMMENDATIONS, PLEASE) to boost applicant numbers.

    Wharton represents a fascinating branding case in process.

    Ankur will land on her feet, as her predecessors have done.

    But someone at the top, maybe Ulrich or even Dean Robertson himself, needs to take ownership of Wharton admissions, for the long haul.

    Can SOMEONE commit to staying at Wharton long enough to make and IMPLEMENT a major rebranding strategy?

    From my vantage (11 years in MBA admissions, mostly int’l clients, esp. Asia), Wharton needs to

    + reengage global alumni, especially those OUTSIDE finance
    + show consistency, ethics and governance in admissions

    Let’s see how this all unfolds. Save me an aisle seat!

  • dreamusbschool

    Hi avivalasvegas, i would like to get your advice on my b school selections. I would really appreciate it if you can mail me to dreamusbschool@gmail.com

  • anonymous

    And may be you should join him as well! Sour grapes..We all know the story!

  • Saryu

    Not really!! why?!

  • avivalasvegas

    have you considered a career in comedy?

  • Phillip

    I am an international applicant and here is why I did not apply to Wharton: First: accept it or not IT IS A FINANCE School>> the strength of its alumni is around the finance area. I find it hard to remember a prominent Wharton alums from outside financial services!! Second: Yes, the new team discussion pulled me back a bit as I thought it’d be very very difficult to “DEBATE” with the natives. Third: I am interesting in rotational leadership programs, and I have contacted the HR people of three main and large corporations, they ALL advised me to go for a “general management” program and they mentioned by name Harvard, Tuck, Duke, and Michigan. I’m from asia with undergrad and experience in engineering services.

  • Betsy Massar

    I am sorry Ankur has to take the fall. In my own dealings with her, she’s been extremely open and helpful. A lovely, professional, and interesting woman. I still attribute the decline mostly to applicants seeing it as a finance school, which just plain isn’t true. It’s really hard to get over that. I hear it day in and day out that Wharton is strong in finance, therefore it isn’t strong in other areas. That’s a branding and strategic issue for the school, and it will take a more than a year or two to change that view.
    As for the theory that the team discussions turned of non-native speakers of English, that’s a red herring. I think the team discussion idea was a frightening new idea to everyone. I know the admissions office liked it, but I think that prospective students didn’t see the benefit to them, and shied away.

  • Saryu

    in my opinion, attending a quality program of Olin at Wash U, Owen at Vandy, or Carlson at Minnesota is much better than many of the top that trapped into elitism and forget about real world changes.

  • avivalasvegas

    Completely agree that Wharton is on its way down. Compare the school’s alumni to the those of its upcoming peer schools like Kellogg and MIT and you see why very quickly. The days of tolerating MBA arrogance are long gone and Wharton has yet to catch on. Add the reduction in differentiation between Wharton and Booth (Both Finance schools, both create anti social graduates) and you begin to see why. My prediction for the top 5 ranked schools:

    1) HBS
    2) Stanford
    3) Kellogg
    4) Booth/ Wharton
    5) MIT

    While the competition between schools will continue to be fierce, lets not make the mistake of confusing a top 5 school education with the lesser programs. I’ve worked with MBAs from all across the top 30 spectrum and, as a general rule, the moment you go lower than Columbia, there is a marked difference in candidate capability.

  • HateMBAs

    I told you. Wharton is clearly in decline. Only blind people can not see this. The quality of people they admit recently is not on the same level with rival schools such as Columbia and Chicago.. They need years to fix this, if they could.. I have looked into many top schools (top 20) and I saw clear sign of converging average base salaries, they are becoming closer to each other. That sign means that a good MBA is not necessary at the very top schools, in fact, many top 20 and top 30 are good enough to educate the student without that nervousness, severe and unjustifiable competition. Many employers now (including those elite in consulting and banking) realize that the quality of the student him/her self is much more important than the name of the school. People also realized that many international schools outside the US are actually gaining momentum and can provide as good as education of Harvard or Stanford..just relax and watch the game changing..