Yale’s Levin Highest-Paid Ivy League Chief at $1.63 Million

Yale University President Richard C. Levin
Yale University President Richard C. Levin. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

Yale University’s Richard C. Levin was the Ivy League’s highest-paid president at $1.63 million in total compensation in 2009, as 36 private-college leaders received more than $1 million each.

Six more chief executives than in the previous year earned more than $1 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The journal, based in Washington, yesterday published a study of pay for 519 leaders at 482 private colleges in the U.S. in 2009, the latest year with available data.

The median compensation for presidents at the 50 institutions with the largest budgets rose 75 percent in a decade to $876,792 in 2009. At colleges and universities with budgets of more than $50 million, such compensation increased 2.2 percent in 12 months.

“To the extent that most of these compensation packages are contractually set up, the increases that presidents experience are in many ways impervious to economic conditions,” Jack Stripling, a Chronicle reporter, said in an interview.

Levin of Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, got 6.4 percent more than in 2008 and received the ninth-highest compensation of all college leaders in calendar 2009, according to the Chronicle. Levin, 64, is the longest-serving president in the Ivy League of eight selective institutions in the northeastern U.S. An economist, he has led Yale since 1993. Yale’s endowment, totaling $16.7 billion on June 30, makes it the second-richest of the schools, after Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Salary Freeze

Levin’s salary didn’t increase in the 2009-2010 academic year, as no one at Yale earning more than $75,000, including faculty, received a raise that year, said Tom Conroy, a spokesman. While salaries for officers, including Levin, were frozen the following academic year, faculty compensation was not, Conroy said. The Yale Corporation, the university’s governing body, annually approves Levin’s compensation after reviewing his performance, according to Conroy.

“His longevity as a president is unusual and way beyond the norm, and the Corporation also considers his national stature as a leader in higher education,” Conroy said in an e-mail.

President Barack Obama plans to hold a meeting with several college presidents today to discuss affordability in higher education, according to a statement from the White House.

None of the top four earners in the Chronicle’s 2009 report are still in office. Constantine N. Papadakis of Drexel University in Philadelphia, who died in April 2009, earned the most that year, $4.91 million. The majority of his earnings came from life insurance and accrued compensation paid to his wife.

Johns Hopkins

The next-highest compensated was William R. Brody, then president of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with $3.82 million. Donald V. DeRosa, then head of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, got $2.36 million. Henry S. Bienen, who was president of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, received $2.24 million.

Among the eight Ivy League presidents, half received less compensation in 2009 than in the previous year, according to the Chronicle’s analysis.

The total compensation of Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia University in New York was $1.53 million, a decrease of 13 percent. Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia earned $1.32 million, a 3.4 percent decline. David Skorton of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, received $862,000, a 5.9 percent drop. Ruth Simmons of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, got $657,000, down 26 percent.

Faust’s Pay

Among the gainers, Drew Faust, president of Harvard, received $875,000, a 6.4 percent increase. Shirley Tilghman of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, collected $911,000, up 3.4 percent.

In his first year at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Jim Yong Kim received $613,000.

The Chronicle analyzed the most recently available federal tax returns, which are made public when filers are not-for-profit institutions, as is the case with most colleges and universities. Total compensation for the executives may include benefits such as housing and deferred pay.

As colleges pay leaders more, one way that the institutions obtain money needed to operate is by raising prices paid by students and their families.

Tuition and fees at public universities in the U.S. increased 8.3 percent this year, twice the rate of inflation, to an average $8,244, while costs at nonprofit, private colleges rose 4.5 percent to $28,500, the College Board, a New York-based nonprofit, said in an October report. Surging tuition has left the average college graduate with more than $20,000 in loans, according to the research.

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