Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5

The MBA Gatekeeper At MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan Admissions Director Dawna Levenson

MIT Sloan Admissions Director Dawna Levenson

Dawna Levenson made a lot of people very happy on Friday (Dec. 20)—and an even greater number of people disappointed and sad.

As director of admissions at MIT’s prestigious Sloan School of Management, Levenson notified round one applicants whether they were admitted, dinged or wait listed just before the Christmas holiday.

If all went according to form, you can bet that Levenson shed a few happy tears here and there as she informed candidates that they will be welcome to join Sloan’s Class of 2016. As an alumna of the MBA program, she knows firsthand what a difference acceptance to the school can make.

After graduating from Sloan with both a BS and MS in management science in 1984, she joined Accenture for a near 18-year stint at the consulting firm. When she left the business as a partner in 2002, Levenson says she wanted to pursue a different career. “I really loved being on a college campus,” she says, “so I moved back to the Boston area and I applied for many jobs.” At one point, she received a call from Sloan, asking her if she would be interested in being a contract reader of application files in 2006.

“I jumped on that opportunity and then six months later I got a job at MIT in a different department—the MIT Professional Education office. I continued to stay involved as a reader and then two years ago a couple of positions opened up and I pursued them. Levenson first became associate director for Sloan’s Master of Finance program and then in February of this year she was named director of MBA admissions. ‘It sounds trite, I know, but it just feels like home,” says Levenson, whose dark, wild and curly hair is one of her distinguishing features.

Levenson reports to Rod Garcia, who has been a fixture in MBA admissions at Sloan for a quarter of a century. Garcia joined Sloan admissions in September of 1988. “We are overlapping circles,” she says. “There is an awful lot we do together but then there is the external side that Rod spends a good deal of time with. He has established some very important relationships with alumni all over the blog. He can spend more time cultivating those relationships now. I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the office. The entire admissions staff reports to me. It works very well.”

Last year, 4,300 applications flowed through Sloan’s admissions office, up 7.5% from the previous year.  About 15.2% of those who applied–roughly 650 applicants–were admitted to the program’s 400 or so seats. The class that Levenson helped to enroll in the fall ranges in age from 22 to 37, and averages five years of work experience, a GMAT of 713 and an undergraduate grade point average of about 3.53. Sloan admits a significantly higher percentage of international students than many of its peers—41% in the Class of 2015, equal to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School, but higher than every other Top Ten school.  A hefty 37% have undergraduate degrees in engineering.

We interviewed Levenson early in the morning one day last week, just before an all-day meeting at which she and her staff would be holed up in a conference room, making yes, no and maybe decisions on a slew of candidates.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.