August 30th, 2012 | Uncategorized


After 20 years as Yale’s leader, University President Richard Levin will step down from his post at the end of the 2012-’13 school year, he announced in a Thursday morning email to the Yale community.

In his email, Levin said he recognized that it is a “natural time for transition” after being at the University for more than 40 years, first as a graduate student and later as an economics professor.

“These years have been more rewarding and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined,” he wrote in his email.

Levin said he planned to take a sabbatical after leaving his post and complete a book reflecting on higher education and economic policy. He did not name a successor. Read the full text of the email below:

I write to inform you that I will step down from my position as President of the University at the end of the current academic year, my twentieth year of service.

From the day Jane and I entered graduate school in 1970, Yale has been our life. Since I joined the faculty in 1974, my efforts – as teacher, scholar, and President – have been rewarded in superabundance. As President, I have had the strong and enabling support of devoted faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and friends, but as my twentieth anniversary approaches, I recognize that this is a natural time for a transition. We stand between the realization of many important institutional goals and another round of major initiatives. We have successfully completed the Yale Tomorrow campaign, renovated all twelve residential colleges, reduced our budget in the wake of the financial crisis, secured the funding to construct the new School of Management facility, achieved critical mass on the West Campus, and ensured the successful launch of Yale-NUS College by recruiting outstanding leadership and the first cohort of faculty, and breaking ground on a new campus. Before us lie decisions about when to proceed with such projects as constructing the Yale Biology Building, facilities for science teaching, a new home for the School of Drama, and two new residential colleges, as well as renovating the Hall of Graduate Studies and Hendrie Hall.

It is a source of great satisfaction to leave Yale in much stronger condition – academically, physically, and financially – than it was when I began in 1993. Our faculty is stronger than ever, and our deans and directors all have clear and ambitious agendas that will keep the University moving forward. Our partnership with the city of New Haven has led to great improvement in the condition of our downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. We have transformed relations with our labor unions. And we have become a truly global university – providing international experiences to the great majority of our students, supporting hundreds of faculty collaborations throughout the world, and, influencing the development of law, the effectiveness of health care delivery, and the course of global higher education.

To the faculty and staff who contribute daily to the work of the University, to the students who give it meaning, and to the alumni and friends who provide generous support, I offer my profound thanks. These years have been more rewarding and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. My words on accepting my appointment as President are as true today as they were on April 15, 1993: “The greatness of this institution humbles me.” I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to serve Yale.

I look forward to a sabbatical next year, when at last I will have the time to complete a book of reflections on higher education and economic policy.

  • RexMottram08

    The devil you know is better…

  • yalestudent2013

    I just pray this means Dean Mary Miller will have to find a new job. PLEASE

  • sreilly

    “70% of all building have been renovated”
    0% of buildings most grad students visit (GPSCY, HGS, most labs, studios, etc) haven’t been touched since they were built. Thanks a lot. Really glad singaporean students get new buildings but half of the ones for grad students arent event handicap accessible/waterproof/airconditioned/etc etc. Priorities Priorities.

  • observer

    He stayed about five years too long.

  • eli1

    If Comrade Miller become President then I officially want nothing to do with this school ever again.

    • RexMottram08

      It’s Miller time! Now with triple-hops and political correctness!

      • jamesdakrn

        Or 8 points in 9 seconds?

  • JE14

    Now let’s get rid of Miller and Meeske?

  • Gokie

    Levin was a great president, one of the greatest, certainly compared to his direct predecessor. In 1992, when I graduated, Yale was struggling. Levin put it back on even footing, has strengthened a number of academic areas that were weak, renovated aging colleges, repaired relations with the City of New Haven, etc. I doubt his successor will be able to achieve as much.

    • claypoint2

      I wholly agree, Gokie. I sigh when I read the comments of current students who seem perennially dissatisfied with President Levin and his administration. If they only had a personal experience of how profoundly the campus has been transformed – and of how the University’s readiness to lead in the 21st century has improved – as a result of Rick Levin’s tenure, they might feel differently.

      It’s not an accident that many alums feel profound respect for the man; we’ve seen Yale move from a beloved but physically sagging institution that wasn’t quite up to par in the sciences, to a first-rate campus in which scientific research and interdisciplinary programs have acquired new strength. Yale is infinitely better placed to continue as a leading world university because of Rick Levin and his team – notably Peter Salovey and Linda Koch Lorimer. I, for one, am deeply grateful for President Levin’s exceptional service and wish him the very best.

      *Btw, my money – and my hopes – are on Peter Salovey as the next Yale President.

  • Carl

    “He stayed about five years too long.”

    To the contrary. When sailing through troubled waters–the Great Recession–you want a sure hand on the tiller.

  • LK11

    Lest we get too caught up with criticism and speculation, I’d like to point out that Levin’s legacy — strengthening Yale’s science programs and its ties to Asia — will serve the university well for many years to come. I hope the next president has an equally bold and practical vision for Yale.

  • alum123

    Levin has been a great president. The Yale of today is completely transformed from the Yale of the early 1990s. He invested in the infrastructure and the city, to the benefit of both. He improved relations with the unions and modernized the curriculum — all while fostering Yale’s unique culture. Let’s hope his vision gets put to good use wherever he goes next.

    We also shouldn’t overlook his wife, Professor Levin. She is a talented professor and a key asset in the Levins’ efforts to connect with students.

  • alum2001

    Levin has been the best president in Yale’s history, and has truly advanced the University.

    Thank you President Levin for your outstanding leadership! You will be sorely missed.

    • MsMoneypenny

      Bart Giamatti was the best President in Yale’s recent history, IMO.

  • basho

    However you feel about Yale’s recent endeavors, nobody can deny that the man’s got brass down below.

  • An_Observer

    The Yale of the early 1990’s was an unmitigated disaster, on the slippery slope to losing its membership among the great universities of the world. President Levin deserves full credit for rescuing us from the abyss.

    But Levin was a beneficiary of two very important factors which were not of his making:

    (1) The extraordinary returns from the Yale endowment over the past two decades have stabilized the university financially and put us in a position of strength to address the many needs which existed when Levin assumed his position.

    (2) Urban campuses are more popular with young people than at any time in memory. In the early 1990’s, most of our nation’s inner cities were facing grave crises and New Haven in particular was a crime-filled cesspool. The national economy and crime rates reached their worst states right around the time of Levin’s inauguration. Over the past two decades, crime rates have plummeted around the country for reasons which are still not understood, only guessed at. Neighborhoods surrounding schools such as Yale, Penn and Columbia went from being drug-infested crime zones to varying degrees of urban pleasantness.

    President Levin deserves great credit for being in office at the time of Yale’s recovery but, take away the financial windfall and the rebound of urban campuses in general, and Yale would be in a dark, dark place right now.

    • joey00

      Yale claims it’s a Corporation.Looks like one,talks like one,acts like one.As in other big Corps ,it is top heavy , insane payroll for unaccountable officials. Uses cheap labor , and brushes under the rug,pushes away the perceived unsightly problems.
      Highest gas prices since the early 70’s , high crime, unemployment that of the 70’s,if not worse.America is in real bad shape.
      This is a Depression.
      Yes the University and it’s marvellous stone architecture was crumbling before the eyes of astute soup kitchen patron. And seriously needed revamping.I wonder how much was redirected government funding that was earmarked for small business, alleviating state deficits,gov sponsored after school work programs.
      All i see is hot air being blown by agencies , further devastating our ozone.
      Yes overall he did a good job , he / they had a headache or two to contend with,

  • eli1

    Levin’s replacement has to be Salovey right????

  • Carl

    Prediction: Linda Lorimer will soon be named interim president for 2013-2014. And after a lengthy national search, Peter Salovey will be named president effective 2014.

    • EarlyBird


    • claypoint2

      I suppose that that makes sense, although I wish that Salovey could pick up the reins sooner… sometime in 2013.

    • dbrett

      Wow, I hope not! Let’s hope they go right to Salovey

  • Branford73

    I applaud Levin for the financial stabilization of Yale, the successful renovation of the colleges and the beginning of the two additional colleges.

    I am annoyed at several developments over his term, including growing “Big Brother” control over undergraduate life, downgrading of athletics, and a seeming emphasis of educating international students over American students.

    • claypoint2

      Then you really must not like the GOP’s “Big Brother” control over women’s bodies and Mitt’s shipping American jobs overseas.

      • RexMottram08

        Outsourcing != Offshoring

      • Branford73

        You are correct. I do not.

        I forgot another annoyance I have with Levin: Yale’s theft, er, *reallocation*, of privately endowed academic prizes.

  • River_Tam

    I liked Levin, but I think he had a myopic view of Yale’s place in the world. Too much emphasis on opening satellite campuses or exchange programs.

  • concerned

    Blah, blah, blah….suppressing Title IX complaints for decades?….blah, blah, blah

    • Polistotle

      Who gives a damn about Title IX. Give Yalie girls a chance to tone down their strident competitive ways and have a chance at becoming ladies. Or at least showering and developing a wardrobe beyond sweatpants and tennis shoes.

  • dbrett

    President Levin accomplished some good things for Yale, but he, and Yale, suffer from a lack of integrity.
    The last straw was the dishonest Title IX message. The detailed OCR letter shows EVERY WAY that Yale was operating unlawfully.
    *To the Yale Community:
    I write to inform you that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has closed its investigation into Yale’s compliance with Title IX, with **no findings of noncompliance.***
    The OCR resolution agreement has neither found Yale *”in-compliance” or “non-compliant.”* “No findings of noncompliance” is not true according to the agreement. The six-page list of requirements is long, and Yale is on “parole” until 2014.
    OCR Regional Director Thomas Hibino is quoted:
    Hibino explained in a letter to the university, *”the investigation focused on three questions: did Yale appoint someone to ensure compliance with Title IX **and adequately inform the campus community?**”* Yale Alumni Magazine
    President Levin’s message does not *”adequately inform the campus.”*

    This would not be in the OCR letter sent to Dorothy Robinson, Yale’s lead attorney.
    *Please note that **complainants may have the right to file a private law suit in Federal court,** whether or not OCR identified compliance concerns… this document and related records, (are) subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act.*
    Yale University has covered up **thousands of sexual misconduct incidents since the original Title IX complaint Alexander v Yale in 1977.** Yale never provided adequate, federally mandated support services to victims to press charges and report to police. Yale *was* strongly supporting overwhelmed students for the informal route involving no police report. YPD wanted to do their job. Yale administration **hid these incidents using the informal route keeping them out of the statistics and then not reporting these crimes to the Department of Education** – so the Yale brand would not be tarnished. Yale was cited for underreporting rape and sexual assault.
    OCR required the only sexual misconduct reports Yale produced. There were 101 sexual misconduct incidents in the last year. Multiply that by the years since the Title IX landmark case Alexander v Yale in 1977. One hundred multiplied by 35 yrs = 3,500 victims!

    Does this remind you of Penn State? The Catholic Church?
    This shameful situation compares to the number of Catholic Church/Priest and Penn State victims, and lack of leadership, and coverup. Yale’s victims were not children, but they were *vulnerable students* who suffered and then were railroaded by Yale’s unlawful procedures and hostile environment.
    Yale victims are re-traumatized once again – as Yale’s actions are covered up in the investigation outcome.
    Levin is not alone in covering up all these incidents and allowing an environment where the absolute minimum is accepted to make it appear Yale was doing something to prevent them.

  • phantomllama

    Strong early rumors suggest that the administration will choose the next President from a three-person shortlist, believed to include Dean Miller, Dean Meeske and Dean Gentry.

    • es1212

      hahahaha no

    • xfxjuice

      Oh God. Please, no.

  • Charybdis

    Levin’s accomplishments are significant; he continued Benno’s emphasis on fixing the enormous facilities and financial problems the university then faced (and executed this much more effectively than poor Benno did); he seems to have stabilized the long-poisonous relationship with the unions; his engagement with New Haven has been substantive and fruitful (admittedly, he has been lucky to have City leadership interested in engaging back); the undergraduate financial aid overhaul made Yale much less punishing to attend for middle-class and low-income students; and there has been significant strengthening in the sciences and social sciences.

    That said, he has never been able to make a case for why Yale matters; to articulate a compelling argument for the liberal education, particularly as offered at Yale. Merely being not as bad as Harvard (which produces wrecked, deeply insecure graduates who compensate by becoming pompous know-it-alls) or Princeton (where rich suburbanites send their spoiled children confident that the little darlings will not have their sense of entitlement threatened — e.g. the Whitman brats) should not be good enough. The humanities at Yale in particular have suffered from at best benign neglect (the amazing collapse of Art History, for example, shows what happens when an administration showers you with fancy new buildings but doesn’t actually value what you do enough to bother keeping you vital). Levin also has fostered a poisonous, punitive internal culture, albeit one that has seen some improvement starting with John Pepper’s working there. And under Levin, Yale has been (not at all uniquely, to be fair) a key player in propping up the pseudo-meritocracy where the rich and well-connected game the system to ensure their access to the best educations and jobs while assuring themselves that they “earned” all of their wealth and accomplishment. At least under the old WASP hegemony (yes I know, it was rife with appalling misogyny, racism, and anti-semitism, and was deeply unfair as well) the best Yale graduates where fully aware of how lucky they were, and that they had a corresponding responsibility to give back to society.

    Most of Levin’s accomplishments would stand if he had left ten years ago, although I suppose it is only fair that having ridden the boom years, he also has had to deal with the great recession. His successor’s main task will be to demonstrate how the resources that have been concentrated at Yale make the world a better place (and to ensure that they really are making the world a better place).

  • ms2676

    History will judge him, however, as I see it now, President Levin did so much for this University, and for the City of New Haven. He should be applauded for the tireless effort on his part to make Yale a great institute of higher learning.

  • allegro39

    Rick is almost certainly the last person to consider the ranking of the greatest Yale presidents. If one MADE him list the Greats, he might rank, without thought of himself, the top three as equals: Brewster; Brewster; and Brewster….

  • cjgrosso

    I am surprised there is any debate on this topic. I started Yale the same day Levin started as President in August 1993. Yale was a complete basket case – no money, poor faculty morale, limited science programs, no international presence, and awful physical plant. I was back for my fifteenth reunion this spring and it is like another planet. The science programs are strong, the international presence is huge, the buildings renovated, and great appointments across most of the important leadership positions (many of which didn’t even exist when he started). Yale is also working much better with New Haven (a lot of credit also goes to Mayor DeStefano). Most importantly, the school is innovating in many ways academically and in teh community. He is an extraordinary leader and leaves the University in better shape now then ever.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Yale’s greatest President was A. Whitney Griswold, who, in a sweep of the pen, ABOLISHED Yale’s Graduate Department of Education, saying “It is not necessary to teach teachers how to teach.”

    This was leadership.

    No one listened.

    Education has been ceded to the left brain wonks (Bill and Melinda Gradgrind) who see teaching NOT as an intuitive art (as Griswold evidently did) but as a mechanical, quantifiable, science: Do X, Y, and Z to students and you will produce Q which can be captured on a bubble sheet, entered into a computer, and analyzed endlessly to make the adults using the bubble sheets feel important.


    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div’80

    M.A., M.Ed.

    Mr. Levin was a good president, and amazingly accessible.

    • basho

      Every man has the right to say “Bill and Melinda Gradgrind” once every 24 hours, but no more frequently.

  • ldffly

    Mr. Keane, I could not agree more. Yale University is a far better place for what Griswold started and Brewster finished. The nonsense that passes for instruction in colleges of education is criminal. Excellent point.

  • The Anti-Yale

    OK, basho—

    Just go to the Bill and Melinda Gradgrind Foundation blog at

  • Sara

    Levin’s college expansion project needs to be halted until more significant work is done to improve campus safety.

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  • ldffly

    I’m glad this is happening.

  • Sara

    Levin promised many improvements to traffic safety around the campus, but few were made. Instead, many new parking garages were added and nearby roads like Route 34 will be widened through campus. Unfortunately, his legacy will be one of continued serious injuries and deaths of staff and students on and around the campus, plus relatively moribund economic conditions nearby as families continue to avoid the unruly streets in favor of more accessible areas. Hopefully Yale’s next President will work to improve the situation.