Yale Endowment Chief Swensen's Pay Fell to $4.2 Million in 2015

  • His compensation package declined 17.6% from the prior year
  • Swensen has trailed Harvard in pay but not performance

David Swensen, who runs Yale University’s $25.4 billion endowment, was compensated $4.2 million for 2015, lagging behind his counterpart at Harvard University’s fund despite superior performance.

Swensen’s pay package as chief investment officer included salary, bonus, benefits and $256,000 in deferred compensation, according to a tax filing that New Haven, Connecticut-based Yale provided to Bloomberg. The tax filing, the latest available, is for the fiscal year ended June 2016, though pay information is for the calendar year ended December 2015.

David Swensen

Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Harvard’s former investment chief Stephen Blyth received a package of $14.9 million in 2015, according to tax filings. Harvard, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has the largest U.S. college endowment at $35.7 billion. Harvard has since appointed Nirmal “Narv” Narvekar, who was previously at Columbia University, as chief executive officer of its endowment.

The period includes two fiscal years in which Yale’s investment returns were among the best at university endowments. Yale gained 11.5 percent in fiscal 2015 compared to Harvard’s 5.8 percent return. The next year, Yale returned 3.4 percent against Harvard’s loss of almost 2 percent.

Swensen was the highest-compensated employee at Yale in 2015 even as his total pay package declined 17.6 percent from the previous year, according to tax filings. Among the 22 employees whose pay packages were disclosed for 2015, four work at the endowment.

The second highest-compensated employee, at $3.2 million, was Swensen’s longtime collaborator, Dean Takahashi, who is senior director of investments. Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, received a pay package of $1.4 million. A spokesman for Yale declined to comment.

Among the eight Ivy League schools, Yale’s 10-year annualized return is 8.1 percent, second highest to Princeton University with 8.2 percent.

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