Levin pay highest in Ivy League

University President Richard Levin was the highest paid president in the Ivy League last year, according to data published Monday by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Levin earned $869,026, including benefits, in 2006. He received a raise of about $90,000, or 11.6 percent, over his 2005 salary, which was second in the Ivy League to the payroll of then-Cornell University President Jeffrey Lehman.

Levin’s salary has increased 94.3 percent in the last decade. Since then, the average salary for a tenured professor has increased by less than half that amount — 44.4 percent. In 2006, the average tenured Yale professor earned $151,152, an increase of 3.8 percent over the previous year.

Levin — after 14 years on the job, the longest-serving Ivy League president — declined to comment for this story. His salary is recommended by the three-person Compensation Committee of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

The committee’s members — Roland Betts ’68, Jeffrey Bewkes ’74 and William Miller ’78 — could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Although Levin’s salary has been among the top three in the Ivy League throughout the past decade, 2006 marked the first year he ranked first among the eight presidents. Emeritus history professor and Yale historian Gaddis Smith ’54 said Levin’s top ranking should not come as a surprise, given his lengthy tenure.

“He certainly is the longest-serving, and has devoted all his time to the job,” Smith said. “He’s totally committed to it.”

Still, Levin typically is not the highest-paid Yale employee. In 2005, when data were last available, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen made $1.64 million, and his deputy, Dean Takahashi, netted just over $1 million.

School of Medicine professor David Leffell was third, at $1 million, and Levin was fourth, at $779,000.

At private universities, the median salary for a president last year was $528,105, according to the Chronicle. Twelve presidents at private institutions made more than $1 million — up from seven a year earlier, the publication reported.

Donald Ross, the outgoing president at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., made the most of any university president in the country in 2006. He received more than $5.7 million in salary and deferred compensation.

The data come at a time when some lawmakers have questioned whether rising salaries for college executives have contributed to the rise of tuition at a faster rate than that of inflation in recent years.

“If your aspiration is to be a college president, that is a way to become a millionaire,” Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education in San Jose, Calif., told The New York Times Monday, adding that such a statement would have been “inconceivable” two decades ago.

“The public has kind of lost confidence in the altruistic mission of higher education,” Callan said. “They see higher education as just another institution that’s in it for its own bottom line.”

But considering the difficulties of the job, $869,000 is a bargain for Levin, Smith said.

“When you think of what corporate CEOs get, presidents of universities get the equivalent of about two weeks salary compared,” he said. Being a university president, he said, “[is] one of the most complex and difficult jobs in the country because you have so many different constituencies, so many different responsibilities.”

Levin was the highest-paid president at a Connecticut school by a large margin.

The next highest-paid, John Lahey of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, made $542,080, according to the Chronicle.

Among the Ivy League presidents, Dartmouth head James Wright garnered the smallest compensation, taking home $527,088.


  • Anonymous

    Why compare the average salary for a tenured professor to the President's? Older professors (higher salary) retire and younger ones(lower paid) become tenured which limits the growth in average salary even if each tenured professor there for the entire period received raises well above Levin's.

  • Anonymous

    it's a payroll for who you know,not what you know.Mr.Levin's pay goes hand in hand with endowments which some are change of mind investing of Bush's foreign allocations

  • Anonymous

    how much is china paying him?

  • Anonymous

    He is well worth it. Only thing I would change that I have seen as a Yale parent is increase financial aid. Other top schools are offering more than Yale--give more grants and just get rid of the loans and work requirements. The wonderful investment returns Mr. Swenson keeps bringing Yale year after year mean that the work and loan obligations could be eliminated with no meaningful financial impact on Yale. It would improve the lives of the Yale students involved tremendously, as they would not have to devote time to working during school and could take more advantage of the wealth of opportunities Yale offers, and also free them of a large debt burden(these loan burdens encourage going to the better paying jobs more than ones they are more naturally attracted to or that society needs). So put much enhanced financial aid ahead of expanding by two more residential colleges as a priority. Other than that, very good job from what I see Mr. Levin.

  • Anonymous

    Based on performance, not just longevity, President Levin deserves at least what he is paid. He has been an outstanding president for Yale, one of its best ever. When he was appointed, faculty morale was low, professional schools were in decline, the campus was in need of repair, and his predecessor had proposed cutting some department and decimating others. President Levin has turned all that around (aided in part by the fabulous endowment growth). His superb decanal appointments have lead to the speedy return to excellence of the medical, architecture and drama schools; the campus and surrounding areas have been renewed; the faculty has been strengthened in almost all departments; Yale is once again one of the two most sought-after colleges by applicants; President Levin has appointed superb administrators throughout (including those who now head Cambridge, MIT, Duke and Wellesley); and he has lead Yale into the 21st Century with initiatives in science and globalization. There is probably no university president anywhere that has been as successful and effective as President Levin during his term at Yale.

  • Anonymous

    hes worth it. yale was in variosu degrees of disrepair before levin got here. hes turned yale around, and downtown new haven in the process has improved. programs are stronger, student aids improved, yales agressively internationalizing, theres relative peace with the unions. this said, i am still uncomfortable with the comparison of his salary to that of CEOs. whether it be yale or a state college, higher education isnt the same kind of organization. different purposes.

  • Anonymous

    The real issue at Yale, and many private and public schools like it, is the gap between the President's salary/benefits (I also include those inflated salaries of those who work in the investment department) and those who do the lower level labor jobs for these educational institutions. With endowments in the billions (Ivy League) and millions (many other), it simply is a disgrace that the people who work in the lower level jobs earn so little. It creates a tremendous amount of resentment in American society, that ultimately costs us even more in production.

    It's class discrimination at it's worst!