Levin’s pay tops $1 million

University President Richard Levin’s compensation reached seven figures for the first time in the 2007–’08 academic year, according to the University’s most recent tax filings.

But Levin was still only the fourth-highest paid employee at Yale. Topping the list, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen’s GRD ’80 salary and benefits amounted to $4.3 million, about twice what he made the year before.

Swensen’s deputy, Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83, earned the second most, with $2.6 million in salaries and benefits, a 44 percent raise. Swensen’s and Takahashi’s exact earnings for the 2007–’08 year are difficult to pinpoint because their compensation includes deferred bonuses that they have not yet received as well as past deferred compensation, listed on previous tax filings, that they have now received; Takahashi called it “double counting.”

Most of Swensen’s and Takahashi’s compensation consists of incentive-based bonuses they receive on top of their base salaries, mostly tied to the long-term performance of Yale’s endowment. In the fiscal year ending in June 2008, the endowment grew a disappointing 4.5 percent.

Swensen’s and Takahashi’s pay trails that of their counterparts at the Harvard Management Company, some of whom have earned as much as $35 million in recent years. Yale outsources the direct investment of its endowment to external financial managers, whose pay is not publicly disclosed.

Swensen declined to comment.

David Leffell ’77, deputy dean of clinical affairs at the School of Medicine and a professor of dermatology, made $1.4 million last year; and obstetrics and gynecology professor Thomas Rutherford rounded out the top five with nearly $900,000 in salary and benefits. Leffell also declined to comment, and Rutherford did not respond to a request for comment.

Robert Alpern, dean of the School of Medicine, said market forces drive up salaries in parts of the University where professors could be making more in the private sector.

“If you go to the Law School or the School of Management, you’ll see salaries that are much higher than in the College because there are people who could be working on Wall Street,” Alpern said. “In the medical school you’ll find salaries that are higher because, for example, we have neurosurgeons who could be out in private practice.”

All medical school faculty salaries are determined within their respective departments, in accordance with the University’s guidelines, and then reviewed and approved by the dean.

Levin’s salary, which was $911,250 last year (plus $268,082 in benefits), is recommended by the three-person Compensation Committee of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

Federal law requires nonprofit organizations such as Yale to disclose annually the compensation of its officers and its five other highest-paid employees. Yale’s six officers besides Levin — the University’s secretary, general counsel, provost and vice presidents for New Haven and state affairs, development, and finance and administration — earned $432,500 on average in the 2007–’08 fiscal year.

Florence Dethy contributed reporting.


  • db

    let the comments begin on this one. I am sure the president doesnt like this story coming out, especially at a time when the university is facing a budget shortfall. I personally feel that Rick is worth the million, but boy it doesnt look to good during this time. and this was during the 0708 fiscal year. what could they be making now?

  • NH Resident

    Normally, I’d squawk about this. That said, Levin’s certainly earning his pay this week. Don’t know about the others (Swensen et al)…

  • yep

    When people are starving and being thrown out of their homes on a daily basis, are these raises a good idea?

  • Y09

    Here we go again with the same annual Yale executive pay story…

    Levin is an excellent fundraiser, which is a gigantic part of the official job description, whether we care to admit it or not. I can easily see how others might react quite negatively to this news, but he’s worth every dime. What Swensen receives, of course, is a mere pittance. Plenty of non-senior Wall Street people make this easily in a year.

  • ’10

    Levin earns every cent of this. Most students don’t realize how much he does for this University, but he’s an amazing president and we are incredibly fortunate to have him here, especially during times like these.

    Swensen is also definitely worth his salary. Just look at the percent by which Harvard’s endowment dropped and the percent by which Yale’s endowment dropped. That’s no accident, that’s a the work of a skilled investor. If we can keep him for a while longer our endowment might eventually rival our old friends up in Cambridge.

  • BR’07

    @#5. Both Harvard & Yale’s endowment dropped about 30%. not surprising considering both invested by Swensen’s famed Yale Model.

  • staff

    we are facing a problem of ethics here. they are asking for more budget cuts and sacrifices. they surely deserve these salaries and we deserve what we have (nothing) for supporting them.

  • anonymous

    If you don’t pay for talent at the top, then you end up with people who aren’t as good making important decisions. People who are being thrown out of their houses have no bearing on Levin being a great Yale president.

  • anon

    The point for me is not the amount, it’s the raise. All other (faculty) salaries above $70,000 were frozen.

  • @#6

    That 30% value represents the decline in the return on investment. You have to consider the 5% of the endowment which the University spent. Harvard’s endowment had a return of -30%, Yale’s declined 30%, but their return will likely be somewhere between -25% and -30%.

  • A reader

    People, before you go on getting hot under the collar, you should note that these were the salaries and raises from 2 years ago, for the ’07/’08 academic year, when the economy and the endowment were still soaring.