As former MBA Director of Admissions Thomas Caleel sees it, when others — such as the Wall Street Journal — try to label Wharton, they wrongly represent it.
“They like to pigeonhole Wharton as a finance school and it means so much more,” Caleel said. “[Wharton is] so much more diverse and complex than that.”
Since MBA Director of Admissions Ankur Kumar’s sudden decision to leave the University last week and a WSJ article in late September that claimed Wharton is in a decline due to a 12 percent drop in the number of MBA applications within the past four years, many have wondered whether Wharton is losing its edge.
Oct. 4 was Kumar’s last day as the director of admissions and financial aid, and deputy vice dean for MBA admissions Maryellen Lamb has taken over the post. As of press time, Kumar had not responded to multiple requests for comment.
When asked of his thoughts on Kumar’s departure, Caleel, who held the position from 2005 to 2008, said he himself approached the position as a job with an expiration date.
“[There was a] very clear understanding that I would stay for three years,” he said, so there was “no surprise when I left.”
Kumar’s decision to leave the position after holding it from 2011 to 2013 makes her the fourth director to leave Wharton since 2000. Previous directors Rose Martinelli, Caleel and J. J. Cutler also have only held the position for only a few years.
“This is not a decision I made impetuously,” Kumar said in last week’s email which announced her resignation from her job. Kumar said she had been looking for jobs in New York for the past several months.
After three years as director, Caleel, the 1994 College graduate and 2003 Wharton MBA graduate felt he was ready to return to his original passion: “Starting, building, and financing great companies,” he said.
“I felt I had done a lot, I had changed a lot with my team” in those three years, he added.
In his term as director, Caleel worked to increase the number of women enrolled in the MBA program from 32 percent to 35 percent, a number that Kumar was able to increase with the MBA class of 2013 reaching 45 percent women.
He went on to say that the school has been striving to recruit diverse classes across genders, nationalities and other criteria. The school also recruits from nonprofit organizations, the Peace Corps, Teach for America and the American military.
Caleel credits Wharton with educating him not only about business, but also providing him with skills that have helped him found Toro Advisory Partners as a managing partner and launch the Gideon Hixon Education Technology Venture Fund. He said his time at Wharton was short, but meaningful.
But Caleel does admit that Wharton may have an image problem.
Wharton suffers from an “exterior perspective and the interior reality,” he said, adding that the school does “attract very [diverse] individuals from across the globe.”
In a blog post uploaded last week in response to the WSJ, Wharton professor Adam Grant discussed how he sees the Wharton brand changing. In his post, “Wharton Has an Image Problem,” Grant stated that the school is about more than just finance.
Takumi Kumagai, a first year in the MBA program, agrees. “I feel like Wharton is going through a transformation … What’s written in the Wall Street Journal is just a side effect of that.”
According to Grant, the drop in MBA applications may reflect the image of Wharton, not its reality.
“Wharton means business,” Grant wrote, citing that the school’s graduates are not only destined for work in consulting, investment banking, venture capital and private equity firms, as well as technology companies and startups.
Staff writer Brenda Wang contributed reporting.Comments powered by Disqus
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