As University President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey searched for places to reduce Yale’s expenses in order to close this year’s $100 million budget gap, they turned to their own salaries.

In a gesture both symbolic and economical, Levin and Salovey announced Wednesday that only Yale’s highest-ranking administrators — the president, provost, vice presidents and deans among them — will receive no pay raises this year. Meanwhile, the salaries of faculty and staff who earn more than $75,000 a year will rise 2 percent — an increase from last year, when they could receive a maximum pay raise of $1,500 regardless of whether they earned $75,000 or much more. The University established that salary raise cap to help reduce personnel costs by 5 percent.

The officers decided to impose this year’s salary freeze for top administrators in the interest of fairness, Levin said. Some of Yale’s most highly compensated employees are forfeiting pay raises, and the rest of the University community stands to lose out from the latest round of budget cuts: involuntary layoffs are inevitable, and managerial and professional staff will lose some vacation and sick days, according to the annual budget guidelines released Wednesday.

“The general consensus among the officers was that if we’re going to be asking the community to make sacrifices, the right thing to do is to also take sacrifices ourselves,” Levin said in an interview Wednesday.

But, he added, the freeze on his and others’ salaries is not only a matter of parity, but also of cutting costs.

Though Levin said the move would save “way less” than $1 million, Salovey called the savings “significant.”

“But you’re not going to address the whole budget gap this way,” Salovey added.

The move to raise faculty and staff salaries while keeping those of officers and deans constant has drawn approval, though molecular, cellular and developmental biology professor Joel Rosenbaum has maintained that the officers should have cut their salaries substantially, not just freeze them. At an all-faculty meeting with Levin and Salovey in November, Rosenbaum called for administrators and faculty to cap their salaries at $500,000 until the economic situation improves, and he repeated his proposal in a column in the News last month (“For a more frugal Yale,” 1/15/10).

“I don’t think there are enough hours in a single day to work at the kind of work to warrant that kind of salary,” he said in an interview last week, referring to salaries over $500,000. “Quite frankly, I think it’s too much for anyone.”

Though he said he does not expect anyone to agree voluntarily to his proposal, Rosenbaum said such a move would set a good example for a community facing layoffs.

While the freeze is not exactly what Rosenbaum called for, Salovey said he believes the new policy is “in the spirit” of Rosenbaum’s proposal.

Others, however, said they think the freeze is enough.

“They’re at least letting us know they value our participation,” said Dudley Andrew, who is the chair of the Comparative Literature Department and is the co-chair of the Film Studies Program. “It’s a good gesture.”

Levin’s compensation climbed to seven figures for the first time in the 2007-’08 academic year, the most recent year for which Yale’s tax filings are publicly available. With $911,250 in salary and another $268,082 in benefits that year, his compensation still trailed Chief Investment Officer David Swensen’s GRD ’83 $4.3 million, Swensen’s deputy Dean Takahashi’s ’80 SOM ’83 $2.6 million, and David Leffell’s ’77, deputy dean of clinical affairs at the School of Medicine and a professor of dermatology, $1.4 million.

Levin’s pay has increased steadily by about 10 percent annually during his years as president of Yale, according to tax filings.

In the 2007-’08 fiscal year, the University had six other officers — the provost, secretary, general counsel and vice presidents for New Haven and state affairs, development, and finance and administration — who earned an average of $432,500. The two newest officers, Vice President for Human Resources Michael Peel and Vice President for West Campus Planning Michael Donoghue, came to Yale in October 2008.

Stanford’s president, provost and other high-ranking officials voluntarily took 10 percent pay cuts last year, Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said, and the salaries of Princeton University administrators were frozen last year.

Correction: Feb. 9, 2010

An earlier version of this article misreported the raises for faculty and staff making over $75,000 a year. Though the University originally planned to grant raises of up to $1,500 last year, salaries over $75,000 were frozen in February 2009 to help minimize layoffs.