Yale President Richard Levin was the seventh-highest-paid private university president in the nation during the 2001 fiscal year, according to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education released this week.

Levin’s latest earnings, $612,453 in total compensation, marked a 9 percent increase from his 2000 fiscal year total compensation of $561,709. His compensation increased by 6.8 percent the previous year.

Levin’s earnings made him the third-highest president in the Ivy League. Judith Rodin of the University of Pennsylvania ranked second, earning $808,021 in total compensation. Former Princeton President Harold Shapiro ranked third, with a total of $705,863 in compensation.

The highest-paid private university president was Connecticut College’s Claire Gaudiani, who resigned last June. Gaudiani’s total compensation was $898,410, which includes a $551,500 severance package.

Of the six presidents earning more than Levin in the 2001 fiscal year, three resigned from their posts.

Levin’s salary is decided by members of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body.

In deciding Levin’s salary, the Corporation considers Levin’s evaluation of his own performance and benchmark data provided by an outside consultant about other universities’ presidential pay, Corporation Senior Fellow John Pepper ’60 said.

Pepper said Levin’s salary is “performance-based — much like corporate America.”

Pepper serves as chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of the Proctor and Gamble Company.

Levin’s salary has become a point of contention for union leaders, who are currently negotiating contracts with Yale. Union leaders criticized Levin last week after the public release of a memo Pepper sent to two fellow Corporation members last month. In the memo, Pepper proposed raising Levin’s pension so that he would receive roughly 75 percent of his salary each year after retiring, if he serves through June 2008. Under Levin’s current pension plan, he will receive 47 percent of his presidential salary each year after retiring.

In an Oct. 30 Master’s Tea, one student asked Levin to compare his salary to that of a dining hall worker who has been employed by the University for 10 years. Levin said there are many CEOs in the world who make much more than he does, “and some of them aren’t doing such a great job.”

Pepper said a Compensation Committee that usually consists of the senior fellow and two other Corporation members looks at all elements of Levin’s compensation, including his pension. The committee makes a recommendation to the full Corporation for approval. Levin is not present during the committee’s presentation, Pepper said.

Corporation member and member of this year’s Compensation Committee Len Baker ’64 declined to comment on Levin’s salary.

Corporation member Janet Yellen GRD ’71, who will serve on this year’s Compensation Committee, said Levin deserves to be among the nation’s highest-paid presidents.

“I consider his salary quite, quite appropriate given the contribution he makes to Yale and his leadership position in higher education in the United States,” Yellen said.

Pepper said Levin deserves his compensation.

“While he’s [been president] over a long time, he keeps bringing new initiatives to the table,” Pepper said. “I think he’s the finest university president in the country — [and it’s important] that we do what’s right in recognizing his responsibilities and the contribution he has made to this university in carrying out those responsibilities.”