No ‘bonus’ for Levin

Despite rumors to the contrary, University President Richard Levin did not receive a $350,000 bonus for the 2008-’09 year.

Levin and Provost Peter Salovey announced in February that the salaries of Yale’s top administrators — the president, provost, deans and vice presidents included — would be frozen for the 2010 fiscal year. Levin’s salary increased by $350,000 from 2007-’08 to 2008-’09, but the compensation is actually a benefit Levin will receive upon retirement, and neither a bonus nor money he currently has, University spokesman Tom Conroy said.

Tax filings report that Levin earned a base pay of $965,077 in the 2008 calendar year. Added benefits, bonuses, deferred compensation and other compensation amounting to $564,931 brought his total pay to roughly $1.5 million. Levin’s compensation has increased by about 10 percent each year during his time as University president prior to the salary freeze, according to tax filings.

Chief Investment Officer David Swensen GRD ’80 and his deputy, Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83, were Yale’s two highest-paid employees in the 2008-’09 academic year, with Levin following in third.

Believing the additional $350,000 to be a bonus, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee coordinated a mock cocktail party in Beinecke Plaza earlier this month to “congratulate” Levin and “celebrate” the $400 increase in student contribution to financial aid this year. The protest lasted 30 minutes, during which the organizers handed out 350 flyers.

Levin declined to comment on his salary, or the UOC’s protest, for this story.

Conroy said the UOC was “misinformed” about the compensation Levin received. The retirement benefit was part of Levin’s compensation the previous year as well, Conroy said, but was listed for the first time on the most recent tax return the University filed because of a change in IRS requirements.

“I believe [the UOC] were under the misimpression that the president had recently received a salary bonus of that amount,” Conroy said.

Mac Herring ’12, a member of the UOC, said the goal of the protest was to raise awareness about the increase in expected student contribution to financial aid. The UOC takes issue with Levin’s high salary because it feels some of the money he earns could be better used to eliminate or decrease the burden on students, she said.

Herring said she knew based on tax filings that Levin received about $350,000 in what she called “other compensation,” and assumed that money was a “bonus” of sorts. She said though the extra money is a retirement benefit rather than a bonus, the UOC’s perspective remains the same.

“I think the issue that we are working on, which is comparing President Levin’s salary to the wages of students working to make a student contribution that they’re going to have to give back to Yale as part of their financial aid package, is unchanged,” Herring said.

Ken Hershey ’13 wrote a column for the News last Tuesday in response to the mock protest held by the UOC, titled “Let’s be fair about Levin’s bonus.” But Hershey, like the protesters, also assumed Levin received a $350,000 bonus.

“Given that there was a protest, I thought it was a fair assumption that was something that was actually happening,” Hershey said when informed by the News that Levin did not technically receive a bonus.Despite the $400 increase in expected student contribution to financial aid announced last April, Conroy said the financial aid Yale offers is still “virtually unrivaled.”

The three-person Compensation Committee of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, is charged with recommending Levin’s salary, Conroy said.


  • comment

    Whether is is called a ‘bonus’ or not, it is still ridiculous and unconscionable. That man gets paid too much and this college is going to pot.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Better than a medieval fiefdom: $900.000 is twice what the occupant of the White House makes. If someone offers me $350.000 I will retire for the third and final time and immediately, from YDN posting board. Start the collection now . . .

  • Cersonsky

    Surprised to continue to hear folks criticize this protest as if it hinged on the particulars of Levin’s compensation. Clearly the focus of the protest, as a skim of the YDN last semester would indicate, was the financial aid policy change. Bonus, compensation, benefit… early into the recession, deep into the recession… it doesn’t matter. We hoped to juxtapose two sorts of choices that the university has recently decided to make; judge for yourself which ones you like and dislike. Let the record show, by the way, that the protest lasted longer than “30 minutes” and far more than “350 flyers” were passed out. This doesn’t really matter either, but my point is, if the entire event were reported, and not just select snapshots, there would be even more inconsequential follow-up pieces like this one to be written.

  • The_Lorax

    Wait a minute. What do you mean “despite rumors” YDN? Aren’t you the ones responsible for spreading said “rumors”? Ha. Nice self-slam!

  • townieexprof

    How-to-hide-a bonus=deferred compensation/tax shelter.

  • ClassicMixUp

    Just another instance of the UOC attempting to rally the Yale community around an issue that they under-researched, over-assumed and blatantly misconstrued.