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.

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