"Ankur Kumar, director of M.B.A. admissions and financial aid at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, is leaving her post effective Friday.
The move comes as campus leaders are questioning whether Wharton has done enough to distinguish itself in the marketplace
Wharton's M.B.A. application volume has declined in recent years, even as competitor schools have rebounded from dips caused by the financial crisis and waning Wall Street job opportunities. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that some admissions consultants, applicants and even some professors say Wharton has lost some of its cachet and is no longer perceived as on par with Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School.
People familiar with the matter said Ms. Kumar told staff of her decision last week. Such departures are rare in the middle of the admissions season—Wharton closed out its first round of applications on Tuesday afternoon.
Neither Ms. Kumar nor representatives from the school responded to requests for comment, but in a note to colleagues and friends on Wednesday, Ms. Kumar said that she has been "pursuing several different opportunities in New York City in the past few months" and would have news of a new job soon.
Ms. Kumar, who received her M.B.A. from Wharton in 2007, joined the admissions staff in 2009 and took over as director in 2011.
Wharton Dean Tom Robertson said in a note to students and faculty that the admissions team will continue to operate under Maryellen Lamb, the school's former careers director who in late August was named deputy vice dean for M.B.A. admissions, financial aid and career management.
Ms. Kumar and school officials have said the lower application figures, combined with a higher yield, indicate the school has been better targeting candidates. Applications fell nearly 12% in the past four years. The school doesn't disclose its yield or acceptance rates.
To be sure, Wharton students are in great demand in the corporate world. Nearly 98% of job-seeking graduates from the class of 2013 had full-time offers from top companies, including Amazon Inc., McKinsey & Co. Google Inc. and General Mills Inc.
There has been a revolving door at Wharton's admissions office in recent years. Rose Martinelli left the school in 2005 to oversee admissions at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Her successor at Wharton, Thomas Caleel, arrived at the office that year after a career in startups, retail and private equity; he left after the class of 2008 graduated. And J.J. Cutler, who came to Wharton in 2009 from a marketing position at Aramark, left two years later to return to the company."