Administrators freeze own salaries

As University President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey searched for places to reduce Yale’s expenses in order to close this year’s $100 million budget gap, they turned to their own salaries.

In a gesture both symbolic and economical, Levin and Salovey announced Wednesday that only Yale’s highest-ranking administrators — the president, provost, vice presidents and deans among them — will receive no pay raises this year. Meanwhile, the salaries of faculty and staff who earn more than $75,000 a year will rise 2 percent — an increase from last year, when they could receive a maximum pay raise of $1,500 regardless of whether they earned $75,000 or much more. The University established that salary raise cap to help reduce personnel costs by 5 percent.

The officers decided to impose this year’s salary freeze for top administrators in the interest of fairness, Levin said. Some of Yale’s most highly compensated employees are forfeiting pay raises, and the rest of the University community stands to lose out from the latest round of budget cuts: involuntary layoffs are inevitable, and managerial and professional staff will lose some vacation and sick days, according to the annual budget guidelines released Wednesday.

“The general consensus among the officers was that if we’re going to be asking the community to make sacrifices, the right thing to do is to also take sacrifices ourselves,” Levin said in an interview Wednesday.

But, he added, the freeze on his and others’ salaries is not only a matter of parity, but also of cutting costs.

Though Levin said the move would save “way less” than $1 million, Salovey called the savings “significant.”

“But you’re not going to address the whole budget gap this way,” Salovey added.

The move to raise faculty and staff salaries while keeping those of officers and deans constant has drawn approval, though molecular, cellular and developmental biology professor Joel Rosenbaum has maintained that the officers should have cut their salaries substantially, not just freeze them. At an all-faculty meeting with Levin and Salovey in November, Rosenbaum called for administrators and faculty to cap their salaries at $500,000 until the economic situation improves, and he repeated his proposal in a column in the News last month (“For a more frugal Yale,” 1/15/10).

“I don’t think there are enough hours in a single day to work at the kind of work to warrant that kind of salary,” he said in an interview last week, referring to salaries over $500,000. “Quite frankly, I think it’s too much for anyone.”

Though he said he does not expect anyone to agree voluntarily to his proposal, Rosenbaum said such a move would set a good example for a community facing layoffs.

While the freeze is not exactly what Rosenbaum called for, Salovey said he believes the new policy is “in the spirit” of Rosenbaum’s proposal.

Others, however, said they think the freeze is enough.

“They’re at least letting us know they value our participation,” said Dudley Andrew, who is the chair of the Comparative Literature Department and is the co-chair of the Film Studies Program. “It’s a good gesture.”

Levin’s compensation climbed to seven figures for the first time in the 2007-’08 academic year, the most recent year for which Yale’s tax filings are publicly available. With $911,250 in salary and another $268,082 in benefits that year, his compensation still trailed Chief Investment Officer David Swensen’s GRD ’83 $4.3 million, Swensen’s deputy Dean Takahashi’s ’80 SOM ’83 $2.6 million, and David Leffell’s ’77, deputy dean of clinical affairs at the School of Medicine and a professor of dermatology, $1.4 million.

Levin’s pay has increased steadily by about 10 percent annually during his years as president of Yale, according to tax filings.

In the 2007-’08 fiscal year, the University had six other officers — the provost, secretary, general counsel and vice presidents for New Haven and state affairs, development, and finance and administration — who earned an average of $432,500. The two newest officers, Vice President for Human Resources Michael Peel and Vice President for West Campus Planning Michael Donoghue, came to Yale in October 2008.

Stanford’s president, provost and other high-ranking officials voluntarily took 10 percent pay cuts last year, Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said, and the salaries of Princeton University administrators were frozen last year.

Correction: Feb. 9, 2010

An earlier version of this article misreported the raises for faculty and staff making over $75,000 a year. Though the University originally planned to grant raises of up to $1,500 last year, salaries over $75,000 were frozen in February 2009 to help minimize layoffs.


  • better yet

    Better yet, follow what New York Mayor Bloomberg’s example…Yale’s endowment is down, college applicant rate is down (defying the trend), Annie Le’s murder…Levin, did not do the job he was hired to do. Do not blame economy and cut the graduate students who are actually part of university.


    How about a cut in pay. You already make embarrassing salaries. A freeze in pay raises, wow, what a gesture, I hope you can survive.
    You allowed this mess to happen. Take responsibility and a pay cut.

  • Anonymous

    If the President and officers wanted to make a symbolic gesture, they should have done it during the first round of cuts. Waiting to cap their salaries until other drastic measures became necessary categorizes their actions as less than heroic.

  • vivian!

    vivian is the best.

  • 20 year employee

    I understand the Ameircan dream is to Move up in the world but 500 thousand dollers a year for anyone to make is wasteful. This income level is Pure greed . If you look at the Salarys of our Top officers combined with the benefits and Perks the community would be shocked. I say come work with one of us for a month and try to live on our incomes in these times. I cant even go the Dr because I dont have the money for a copay .. This is a shame. Take a Cut not a freeze.

  • Yokel

    Are Levin et al still flying first class to China, Switzerland, etc?

  • ’98

    To deal with the application rate problem, all Levin has to do is dump the (supposedly yield-boosting) early admissions program, and join Princeton and Harvard in levelling the playing field for all applicants.

    By seeking short-term advantage (ie, hopefully “stealing” a few applicants from Princeton or Harvard by admitting them earlier) Levin violated his own previously-declared principles (that early admissions programs are fundamentally elitist and discriminatory)and hurt Yale in the long term.

  • DonJulio

    If Levin and Salovey were to cut their salaries by 100% how much of a dent would it make in the $350 million? Not much. Yes, it would be great if they could find a way around forcing the students to pay more, but in the grand scheme of things student tuition only makes up 11% of Yales total income. I am sure they’re doing the best they can, or at least, better than what most of us could do.

  • $1

    Take $1 like Mayor Bloomberg.

  • ’13

    @#1: how is Annie Le’s murder, and the impact it surely had on applicant numbers, at all related to President Levin’s job performance?

  • Mr. Freeze

    After this generous, timely offer, we should give the Yale Corporation officials raises!

  • @10

    Yale hired a murderer. Whose responsibility is that? His supervisor? Who hired his supervisor then? It goes all the way to the top. Annie lost her life when she was working hard for Yale. If her murder made a little dent on Levin’s job performance, be it!

  • Egalitarian

    It’s better than nothing, but this isn’t really sacrifice. Levin and company should take substantial pay cuts before graduate students or staff are rejected or fired.

  • Levin Needs To Go

    A FREEZE??? REALLY? Be a real leader and slash your over extravagant salary…

  • Recent Alum

    #10, Yale applicant numbers are down because normal people, including high school seniors, are tired of reading in the YDN every day a story about some group of minorities, feminists, homosexuals, etc. complaining about a non-issue. Understandable that they don’t want four years of hearing about this nonsense.

  • Helen Li

    The General Director of the BBC earns £800,000 pa (plus mouth-watering perks,) almost five times than Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The BBC, our local councils etc. justify those extravagant packages by saying that their “talents” would go elsewhere if the “going commercial rates” are not offered. Last year, we saw those very same commerical organizations doing massive sacking, deep pay-cutting, pay freezing, and cost-tightening due to the economic downturn. The BBC and the local councils? It is like everything is dandy doodle, spending like there is no tomorrow as per usual. Levin getting this kind of salary is sick. An educator should have higher motives, not naked greed.

  • hurl

    How nice, over $75,000.00 gets a raise of %2. While C & T’s get no raises for 3 years and half the benefits. Let’s remember this at the next contract. Hopefully we won’t have the same witless union leadership at the helm. Maybe we can hire the mopswingers union, they seem to have done better. C & T’s- the red headed stepchildren of Yale.

  • BKW

    If we want to close the budget gap, we need to get rid of more of the C&T’s. Yale has as many faculty and staff as it does students. Those C&T staff also get amazing benefits packages compared to the real world. I’m seeing too obvious places to staff trimming the fat.

  • Sillimander

    I agree, cut the C&T’s and maintenance personnel. Also cut the buses and security cars, students can walk like everyone else. Cut the specialized menus in the dining halls, free newspapers and other benefits the students get. Make them pay for alarms and lockouts, damage they cause and cleaning up after them. Yale students fet amazing benfits and treated like royalty compared to real world colleges. I’m seeing too obvious places for trimming the budget and making money to close the shortfall. No reason the students, grad and undergrad shouldn’t feel the pinch and share the hard times.

  • FailBoat

    There’s nothing as ridiculous as Yalies celebrating salary freezes.

  • Angry Eli

    Who in their right mind would donate a dime to Yale knowing that the president makes a million dollars a year? And I’m still waiting for the idiots responsible for the precipitous 20-30% drop in the endowment to be fired. Why do they still have jobs while the rank and file who did nothing wrong are being laid off?

  • skeptic

    I keep hearing that reduced salaries would make the talent go elsewhere. Show me some proof! Do an experiment!

  • Fire Endowment Investors

    Seriously, why aren’t we hearing more about who is really responsible for the decreasing value of Yale’s endowment? Who were the investors managing those portfolios? Since we are apparently fostering a corporate culture here at Yale, we should go all the way and fire poor performers.
    Also, freezing the salaries of the top executives is really a pathetic gesture. They should voluntarily give up at least half of their salaries for a year. It won’t close the gap in the budget, but it will save quite a few positions of people who need their salaries to actually survive.
    In addition, why is it only M&Ps’ benefits that are being cut? Many of them already make less than those C&Ts who have been here for 15 years or more. Seriously, we need a little more sacrifice from the senior management before we can buy into their “we need to make sacrifices” excuse.

  • @ 22

    Are you suggesting that everyone’s salaries need to be cut by the same percentage? There are people here whose salaries are already very low compared to other employers, and by that I mean people who have neither a union to fight for them nor top executive positions.

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