University President Richard Levin underwent surgery for prostate cancer on Thursday and will temporarily cede his administrative duties to colleagues as he recovers.
Though Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said the procedure was successful and Levin’s prognosis is “excellent,” the president will stay out of his Woodbridge Hall office for approximately three weeks. During that time, Provost Peter Salovey will assume responsibility for academic and budgeting operations, while Lorimer will be responsible for other University matters.
“The cancer was caught very early,” Lorimer said in a telephone interview. “The surgery went well. He’ll be back for Commencement.”
Levin, who celebrated his 62nd birthday earlier this month, is one of nearly 200,000 men nationwide who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. According to the American Cancer Society, around one man in six is diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
“It’s remarkably common,” said Thomas Lynch, director of the Yale Cancer Center.
Lynch added that it is typical for men below the age of 75 to choose surgical treatment; older men, he said, often choose radiation when faced with prostate cancer.
“The vast majority of these surgeries work very well,” Lynch said. “I think everyone can be optimistic that President Levin will have a full recovery.”
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said the cancer was detected during a routine physical in the last month. She declined to provide further details about his diagnosis.
Levin was 46 when he became Yale’s president in 1993. Since then, he has never taken a formal leave of absence other than regular vacations, Klasky said. She said an official trip to China that Levin was supposed to take in May has been canceled, adding that the president will spend his weeks at home working on his Commencement speech and recuperating.
Levin’s surgery took place on Thursday afternoon at an unnamed hospital in New York City. Lorimer disclosed news of the procedure in an e-mail message sent Thursday evening to top administrators and Levin’s colleagues in the Economics Department.