Levin undergoes surgery for prostate cancer

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.

University President Richard Levin speaks at a conference on climate change in Copenhagen on March 10.
University President Richard Levin speaks at a conference on climate change in Copenhagen on March 10.

“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.


  • yale10

    Get well soon President Levin! Our thoughts are with you.

  • Anonymous

    Thank god the cancer was caught early! Best of luck in the next few weeks President Levin… the Yale community is thinking of you and looking forward to your healthy and full recovery.

  • PC '06

    Yikes! Get well soon, President Levin.

  • get well soon!

    Wishing a speedy recovery

  • TD-10

    Our thoughts are all with President Levin and his family here at Yale. In his recovery, we all hope he knows how much we appreciate him. Get well soon!

  • 0Y9

    Get well soon President Levin!

    We love you tons and hope to have you back at Yale soon!

  • Anonymous

    Get well!

  • Jerry 1961

    I am a prostate cancer survivor of six years. Four more years and I will be officially 'cured.' President Levin probably had laproscopic surgery which was less invasive than mine. I'm confident that he will have a full recovery and be back for Commencement. I wish him many more years of good health and quality of life.

    I was a little surprised that his surgery did not take place at Yale-New Haven Hospital which is certainly a first class medical facility. I realize that decisions about medical treatment are very private. I'm sure there were good reasons to travel to New York City for this procedure.

  • Yale '07

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery, President Levin!

  • Anonymous

    Hope you feel better soon, President Levin!


    Get well soon, President Levin. But I do find it amazing that you had confidence in neither the YNHH Urology Department nor the YNHH HIPAA policies…

  • Anonymous

    YNHH MD, I agree that it is a little strange. However, perhaps he went to YNHH and they told him to go to New York; or, MOST LIKELY, perhaps he didn't want YNHH because he wanted privacy and less special treatment/attention; etc.

  • Anonymous

    Right, because the first thing a doctor at YNHH would do is e-mail Levin's prostate screening results to the YDN, and the last thing a guy with prostate cancer would want is special treatment/attention.

  • MD

    People should not give their opinion without knowing all the facts. I find it amazing that YNHH MD is so irresponsible and unprofessional that he felt the need to even comment on this very personal decision by President Levin.

  • yaledad

    God speed for a full and prompt reoovery with as little discomfort as possible!

  • student

    umm…. "irresponsible and unprofessional" to give an opinion or comment without knowing all the facts? you realize that there are many, many people who are paid to give their opinion and comment all the time - professionally! it's perfectly reasonable to state this opinion, and moreover, there are plenty of people who feel the same way. i hope there was a good reason to go to new york, but without being provided more facts, i agree that it is displeasing (at best) to see that the president of the university did not have confidence in his own university's hospital. (of course, obama's kids go to private school and he runs the government that should be running the public schools, so i'm not about to get up in arms over levin's choice of doctor/location, but it still doesn't sit right with me). regardless… best wishes for a successful recovery

  • grad student

    get well soon!

  • Branford 11

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, President Levin!

    Get well soon!

  • Curious

    I don't care what the reason, it is very strange to be blocks from the new cancer center at a Yale affiliated institution, and not have such a "routine" cancer surgery. One can choose where to have surgery, but it certainly looks very bad.

  • Sven

    I guess he is not a member of the Yale Health Plan.

  • Willie B. Hartigan

    Does Apple University have a medical school?

  • Anonymous

    It could simply be that the type of procedure he was having was something that New York (Sloan Kettering?) had more experience with. There are tons of types of cancers, types of procedures, etc. The people here at Yale are excellent, but part of that might be recognizing that others have more experience with certain types of cases. No big deal.

    I'm just glad everything seemed to go well for Levin. Cancer sucks.

  • Anonymous

    Many people don't want to be treated by people that they know, nor do they want to be recognized like a celebrity when they're in the hospital. Many doctors don't get treated in the hospital in which they work, it's the same for administrators. It doesn't have to have anything to do with his confidence in YNHH. It's also just plain wrong to go there, as some have on this forum.

    Get well soon.

  • Recovery on the Horizon

    My own recent experience with surgery (the more invasive kind) is that if you follow directions you get well the correct way with no relapses.

    So walk all you can Dr. Levin and rest all you can---I know the latter will be the more difficult for a peripatetic like you.

    And ignore all negative vibrations. I turned off the news in the morning and subtituted Classic Arts Showcase and my amazon.com Kindle instead for 10 weeks.

    Best wishes,
    Paul Keane

  • yaylie

    If you look at any typical hospital rankings like the one US News does, you will see at least two hospitals in NYC ranked top 10 for urology, while Yale New Haven will not make top 25, probably even 50.

  • Anonymous

    President Levin clearly wanted the best care. After all, his own health was at stake in a non-trivial matter. Just as anybody else who had the option open to them, he chose the best hospital. He was under no obligation to "support local industry".

    Under the circumstances, I think most of us would have chosen to go to Boston, New York or Houston as well.

  • eli2011

    get better soon president levin! you're awesome and we are lucky to have you as leader of our university!

  • From China (Dr. Liu)

    May you recover soon! I wish you can visit China each year in next several decades. Your each visit always change China's higher education a little.

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