Yale President Richard Levin was the ninth-highest-paid private university president for the 2002 fiscal year, according to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education released this week.
Levin’s current compensation of $654,452 is a 6.9 percent increase from his 2001 fiscal year compensation of $612,453. Levin’s compensation increased by 9 percent the previous year.
Levin’s placement in the top 10 of the highest-paid private university presidents makes him one of the two representatives of the Ivy League in the Chronicle study. Judith Rodin of the University of Pennsylvania was the third-highest-paid. Rodin received a total compensation of $845,474.
The No. 1-ranked compensation belonged to Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Jackson received $891,400 in total compensation for the 2002 fiscal year.
The compensation committee of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body, decides Levin’s salary, Corporation member Janet Yellen GRD ’71 said.
Members of the committee take into account the president’s performance and are aware of salaries of other university presidents when they determine compensation, Yellen said.
“Any compensation committee would both be assessing an individual’s performance — trying to reach a judgment about success in reaching his objectives — and [looking] at the pay received by other individuals doing the same job,” Yellen said.
But Corporation members would not comment on the specificities of Levin’s compensation.
“The workings of the Yale Corporation are very confidential, and certainly this is about the most confidential area of all,” professor emeritus of history Gaddis Smith said.
The Chronicle predicted that the trend in increased salaries will soon lead to million dollar salaries for university presidents. Smith said there is debate over the appropriateness of such high salaries for university presidents. But when compared to the salary amount that heads of major corporations receive, Smith said, presidents of universities receive far less.
“Presidential salaries have gone up quite a bit in the last 20 years and there have been critics,” Smith said. “But it isn’t that much in terms of what CEOs make.”
The increase in compensation for university presidents coincides with the recent economic recession. As universities such as Yale fall into budget deficits, make cutbacks in programs and faculty, and increase tuition, there are no signs of cutting back presidents’ salaries.
But Yellen, also an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said a poor national economy does not translate into salary cuts. Instead, the results of a declining economy are fewer salary increases and increases in salary of a lesser degree. Compensation does not decrease when the economy is down, Yellen said, but the growth of compensation is affected by the economy.
“The pace at which compensation grows has some sensitivity to the economy,” Yellen said.
Smith said he thinks salaries should reflect a president’s record.
“You can’t measure the effectiveness of the president purely on budgetary terms,” Smith said.