Bush puts Levin on postal panel



After nearly 10 years of overseeing Yale, President Richard Levin has added another item to his list of responsibilities: the United States Postal Service.

Levin began serving on the President’s Commission on the United States Postal Service last week, after being officially appointed by President George W. Bush ’68 last month. The commission is charged with ensuring the efficient operation of the postal service and helping it cope with challenges posed by e-mail, terrorism and the recession, while minimizing the burden on taxpayers.

The nine-member bipartisan committee will submit a report to the President by July 31.

Levin, a former chairman of the economics department, said he is excited to be part of the project. He is the only committee member from academia. Other committee members represent businesses and unions.

“I don’t have any special expertise about the postal service,” Levin said. “But having been asked by the President, I was obviously eager to help in any way.”

Levin has served on national committees before, including the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics in 2000. That year, he also headed up an intellectual property rights conference.

The commission held its first meeting Jan. 8 in Washington, D.C.

At the meeting, Postmaster General John Potter said recent bio-terrorism threats, the recession and electronic diversion have all negatively affected the volume of mail, and charged the committee with examining these issues.

“It was a very interesting first meeting,” Levin said. “It was quite informative. I think we converged on a number of key issues.”

Levin will chair the Business Model Committee, which will examine how the post office should be structured and how pricing decisions are governed.

“I’m quite enthusiastic about that,” Levin said. “It should be very interesting.”

The commission also decided to invite written comments from interested parties nationwide. Levin said he expects hundreds of people to send letters.

The commission will hold its next public meeting Feb. 20.

Yale Corporation member Roland Betts ’68 said Levin will be a great asset to the commission.

“Who wouldn’t want to have Rick Levin working as a member of their team?” Betts said.

Corporation member John Pepper ’60 said the president is “lucky to have [Levin on the committee] because he’s just so smart.”

Pepper said Levin’s contributions to various fields show he is “a remarkable man.”

“[This appointment is] evidence of respect,” Pepper said. “We are lucky people at Yale.”

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