University President Richard Levin visited London on Oct. 29, the same day that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made a state visit. Levin was treated to a front-page story in the Financial Times the next day, while the king had to settle for Page 3.
Abroad in Britain last week, Levin received celebrity treatment. He was not mobbed by swooning fans or desperate autograph-seekers, but to the Financial Times, the salmon-hued British equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, Levin was front-page news. The Times of London and the Daily Mail tabloid also wrote about the Yale president.
He may not be to England what David Beckham is to America, but Levin said this was not the first time he has received widespread attention from media outlets in a country he visited.
“This happens all the time,” Levin said. “There’s much more interest overseas in talking with the heads of the world’s leading universities. … The popular press has more interest in higher education.”
The Financial Times quoted Levin discussing the “tremendous insularity” from which America’s political leaders suffer and universities’ need for a heightened international focus to instill a more global perspective in America’s future leaders. Other news items of the day — including a speech by the U.S. treasury secretary and the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a case about the Exxon Valdez oil spill — were relegated to inside pages of the newspaper.
Levin said he received similar star treatment from local media outlets during visits in recent years to India, Japan, China and Australia. Such publicity benefits Yale, said Helaine Klasky, the University’s director of public affairs.
“We know that many here at home have heard of Yale and are familiar with its reputation; this is not always the case overseas,” Klasky said in an e-mail Monday. “As we continue to expand both programs and access, it is increasingly important that we do all that we can to get the word out in publications across the globe. President Levin’s themes about environmental sustainability and global education attract strong interest in the international press.”
Levin was in London on a University fundraising trip. He returned to New Haven in time to host his traditional Halloween party on Wednesday night.