YLS grad expected to be named NEC director Friday

UPDATED: January 5, 11:41 p.m. President Barack Obama is expected to appoint Gene Sperling LAW ’85 — rather than University President Richard Levin — as the new director of the National Economic Council in an announcement to come Friday.

Levin has been one of three primary candidates under consideration for the position since at least December, but Sperling, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, has emerged as Obama’s top pick for the job, according to a Monday report from Reuters. Roger Altman, an investment banker, has also been a frontrunner for the position.

In an interview with the News Wednesday, Levin declined to comment on whether or not he remains a candidate to direct the NEC.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed in a Wednesday afternoon press briefing that the new NEC director will be appointed Friday during Obama’s visit to a window manufacturer in the Washington, D.C. area, but Gibbs declined to comment on whether or not Sperling is Obama’s pick for the position.

Although Gibbs declined to comment specifically on the candidates for the NEC director position, he said in the Wednesday briefing that there are certain positions for which previous experience is an important job qualification. In addition to his current role, Sperling previously directed the NEC under President Bill Clinton LAW ’73.

“There are people that are important to have in here that haven’t served in government,” Gibbs said. “And then there are other positions where previous service in government — be it for Clinton, be it for others — is important.”

If appointed to the position, Levin would be required to step down from his position as Yale’s president to work in Washington, a prospect that has already sparked speculation about his potential successor.

Levin has also been under consideration to replace Paul Volcker as chair of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), a part-time position that Levin could fill while remaining University president. Volcker plans to step down from his position, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters Wednesday. If appointed to the 17 person advisory board, Levin would join three fellow Yale graduates including PERAB’s Chief Economist Austin Goolsbee ’91, founding dean of the Yale School of Management William H. Donaldson ’53 and Yale Chief Investment Officer David Swensen GRD ’80.

Gibbs said he does not expect an appointment to PERAB to be made Friday with the NEC announcement.

Levin has served as University president since 1993.

Comments