Investment officers at Yale still taking top earnings, bonuses

Is $5.3 million a reasonable yearly salary? Do you compare it to billions earned in endowment returns, or the hundreds of layoffs? A glimpse into the numbers from the Yale Daily News:
As they have been for the past several years, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen GRD ’80 and his second-in-command, Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83, were the two highest-paid employees at Yale in the 2008-’09 academic year, with investments director Alan Forman coming in fourth. Third on the list was University President Richard Levin, who, with $1.5 million in salary and benefits, made about a quarter more than he did the year before.

Swensen’s salary and benefits totaled $5.3 million last year, almost a quarter more than the $4.3 million he earned in the 2007-’08 academic year. His deputy, Takahashi, took home $3.5 million, a 35 percent raise from the year before.

What the filings do not make clear is how much exactly the investments officers took home in 2008-’09, since their compensation includes deferred bonuses they will be paid in the future as well as past deferred bonuses they have now been paid.

...

The two men’s bonuses were based on the endowment’s long-term performance prior to last year’s disastrous negative returns. Future bonuses for Investments Office employees will reflect last year’s losses. (Facing a $300 million budget gap, University officials postponed major construction projects, cut back on spending across Yale and laid off nearly 5 percent of its staff.)

But those same University administrators — who have defended Swensen’s strategy over the past year even as he remained quiet — say that while Swensen may be paid well, it is Yale that has benefited the most from his time here. At $16.3 billion, the most recent figure available, the endowment is still worth much more what it was when Swensen came to Yale in 1985: $1 billion.

On Wall Street or even at other universities, they say, the several million Swensen makes yearly would be a pittance for an investor as renowned as he is. Endowment managers at Harvard have earned as much as $35 million recently, dwarfing Swensen’s and Takahashi’s pay.

“Here’s a guy who could make 10 times his salary,” former deputy provost Charles Long said of Swensen last April. “But his goal is to make as much money as he can for Yale.”

How much is too much? Yale's endowment has increased by a factor of fifteen since 1985, adding on average nearly $1 billion each year. And yet by taking home $5.3 million in a single year, even as budget cuts and layoffs hit the school, the #1 top earner is framed as someone who is making relatively little, "a guy who could make 10 times his salary."

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive our updates and get access to all features of this website. Sign in with:

Latest from the blog

Sep 01, 2016
Subscribe to REC's quarterly newsletter today! We are thrilled to share updates on a number of exciting events, projects, and campaigns at REC!   This past summer, REC was able to launch its International Solidarity Program (ISP) to the Philippines with fossil fuel divestment organizers from across the country. Join...
Aug 31, 2016
  Notes on the Recent Department of Justice Decision To Move Not Renew Private Prison Contracts Photo:  (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson) The Department of Justice announced on August 18 that it will begin transitioning away from federally contracted private prisons, essentially transitioning around 22,000 individuals currently caged in 13 for-profit facilities to...
Aug 29, 2016
Are you searching for a profession that aligns your personal values with your desire for a career in finance?   Do you feel you need help identifying what roles exist in the impact investing industry and how to get your foot in the door? We are happy to share that our partners from The SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing are...

Sponsors

Partners

Partners

Partners