Levin: Financial update coming this week

In the wake of this weekend’s meeting of the Yale Corporation, Woodbridge Hall says it is preparing to release an update about Yale’s financial health. A message could be sent to the University community as early as Tuesday.

Speaking to the News late Sunday evening, University President Richard Levin said the Corporation spent much of its time discussing Yale’s budget and finances. The University’s highest governing body also heard preliminary reports on planning for the West Campus and the two new residential colleges, Levin said.

It is still unclear whether those projects — or others — will be at all affected by the nation’s economic woes. But Levin said in the interview that he would communicate with the Yale community this week about the University’s financial condition and budgeting strategies for the future.

Corporation records are sealed for 50 years, but in keeping with tradition, the president shed light on this weekend’s proceedings in the interview on Sunday night.

Members of the Corporation began their visit to campus with dinner on Thursday night, where they were joined by Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister who last week finished his first semester of teaching at Yale.

On Friday, committees of the Corporation held their meetings. Levin said many of those sessions occurred in the newly dedicated Rudolph Hall and Loria Center complex. The next day, when the Corporation met as a whole, members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee shared an early view of the two new residential colleges being designed by Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65, the dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

“It was a very exciting presentation,” Levin said. “We mostly looked at the program and the notion of the shaping of the buildings and the sizes of the courtyards. But we were all quite inspired and think Dean Stern is making excellent progress.”

Levin emphasized, though, that the report was “very preliminary.” A more thorough examination of Stern’s plans is expected to take place at the Corporation’s next meeting, scheduled for February.

The newly appointed vice president for West Campus planning and program development, Michael Donoghue, also presented to the Corporation. Levin said his report was focused on the “two strands” of the West Campus — facilities for scientific research, and for the storage of Yale’s many collections.

The Corporation’s time at Yale, then, was split between discussions of ambitious planning and of a difficult economy. After discussions of the new colleges and the West Campus, “basically the rest of the meeting was devoted to the finances,” Levin said.

Check back at yaledailynews.com later this week for coverage of Yale’s impending financial announcement.


  • YLS '78

    I'm surprised the Corporation hasn't just suspended all work on the West Campus and new colleges.

  • Silliman 10

    YLS 78:

    There is no way Levin is letting his legacy escape him like that. We'll keep building away. It's good, too, for the economy.

  • Anonymous

    Re: #1 That's probably because a downturn in the endowment has substantially less impact on operating and development budgets than they are going to make us think it does.

  • A Faculty Member

    Let's hope the Yale Corporation has the foresight to avoid the blunt instrument approach of a "hiring freeze" instituted by some of our sister institutions. Such blanket policies have consequences that far outlast the shorter term fiscal problems. The last such "freeze" in the early 1970s still has its effects felt at Yale in terms of holes in programs and weaknesses in some departments. Better to implement selective retrenchments as needed… perhaps now is the time to "bargain hunt" and improve our programs while our friends sit it out.

  • alum '06

    Economist article this week on the "Yale Model" of endowment investing heightens anticipation for this announcement.

  • Ken McKenna ('75, PhD '78)

    Of course, we will have to wait to be sure, but it will be surprising if existing West Campus plans are derailed by the inevitable contraction in the endowment. West Campus was acquired for a song (about $100 million) but includes vast expanses of super-valuable grade-"A" lab space that is already built and ready to serve, requiring very little additional investment. Moreover, that existing physical plant will help attract top researchers and their support, who generally attract lots of private and government funding within a short time. In other words, top researchers tend to be self-supporting once established for a little while.

    West Campus is not and never has been conceived as a vanity project or as stretching Yale finances or requiring a big capital campaign. In that sense, West Campus is very different from superficially similar expansion plans of some of Yale's peers. Indeed, the YDN has already reported on the very first phase of the amazingly ingenious plan for West Campus [http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/24821]:

    "[T]he University has lured world-renowned scientist James Rothman '71 from Columbia to chair the School of Medicine's department of cell biology. … He will also lead a new institute to be launched at the West Campus, the former home of Bayer HealthCare acquired by the University last summer. "Jim Rothman is one of the most brilliant researchers of our time," Robert Alpern, the dean of the School of Medicine, said in a news release … Under Rothman's leadership, the cell biology department will be significantly expanded, the University announced, and will also launch research on the West Campus. There, Rothman will also oversee the new Yale Center for High-Throughput Cell Biology …"

    Is the West Campus plan well conceived? Certainly. Too good to be true? Probably not. But I suppose we'll know more later this week.

  • Townie

    When do the employee buyouts start? I'll be first in line.