Mary Schapiro is stepping down as SEC chairman, she announced today, making her the first major departure from the Obama administration and one that it was seemingly fully prepared for. President Obama immediately promoted SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter to the job, reports the New York Times, which adds that, in a "somewhat surprising step," Walter will receive a permanent, rather than interim, appointment. Schapiro's departure isn't terribly surprising—she had reportedly told staffers she was exhausted and wanted out post-election 2012.
Schapiro earned widespread praise for guiding the SEC in the wake of the Madoff crisis and Lehman Brothers' collapse in her four-year tenure. "The SEC came back from the brink," a Bush-era chairman said. "I give her enormous credit for that." But the Wall Street Journal notes that the end of her term was contentious, with Schapiro taking the unprecedented step of punting the task of tightening rules on mutual funds to another agency, after failing to get the votes to do it in hers. (Read more Mary Schapiro stories.)