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."
Amherst College CIR voted proxies for the first time this year.
Barnard College The Barnard Committee on Socially Responsible Investing is currently working to redefine its mission and re-evaluate its raison d'etre in light of its endowment no longer being managed in house. The Committee is working to develop several over-arching principles that will focus and guide its activities and pursuits in the near future.
Brown University students will begin managing a $30,000 SRI fund that will invest in stocks and mutual funds. If it does well, the school will commit $20,000 more after two years. The money is coming from Brown's annual operating budget, and the students have relative autonomy over their investment decisions, although the investment office will have veto power. The first informational meeting is April 7, and hopefully they'll make our first investment in September.
Columbia University students wrote proxy voting guidelines and prepared a community investment proposal as part of a service learning course organized by the chair of their CIR. They are currently looking to file a resolution this fall and have formally launched a REC campus chapter.
DePaul University students are continuing to pressure the school to adopt weighing an RI policy as part of their Fair Business Practices Committee.
Dickinson College students are holding educational events to elicit greater student support. They continue to work on proxy voting and building a paper portfolio.
Drew University SDS won a CIR this spring to be instituted this fall.
Grinnell College Grinnell College students are again preparing to submit a proposal for an officially sanctioned RI committee along with recommendation to trustees on proxy resolutions. They are also working an awareness campaign around community-based credit unions.
Green Mountain College Students in the course Public Policy & the Environment elected to write an SRI policy as their big policy assignment this semester. The Campus Sustainability Council recently approved our formal policy request to the class. The policy will focus on establishing endowment transparency and forming a CIR. This doesn't mean the school will adopt the policy, but we're hopeful. and should know by the start of the fall semester as the cabinet and trustees will vote on the students' policy during the summer break.
Hampshire College students pressured their administration to divest from a mutual fund containing six US corporations that directly benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The administration then took to the media to deny the success of the student movement. The full story is available at www.hsjp.prg. The school also received a $500,000 donation to be invested by students according to Hampshire’s SRI policy. Students hope to pursue community investment options for this fund as well.
Haverford College CIR is voting proxies and researching the resolution filing process.
Harvard University students held a well-attended responsible endowment event in February and are continuing to pressure the school to respond to HEI’s labor abuses.
Hofstra University students are negotiating with their administration to introduce an RI policy for the endowment.
Loyola University of Chicago CIR co-filed a shareholder resolution on country selection at Chevron. This resolution is primarily focused on human rights abuses and specifically seeks to target Chevron’s presence in Burma. Loyola is also co-hosting an SRI conference in March with REC and the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility.
Macalester College students are working on a campaign to engage companies involved in coltan extraction (the mineral used in cellphones and laptops). You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally students are working to pass a transparency proposal that would give all of the Macalester community access to the school’s proxy voting records and a list of all investments, not just direct holdings.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology students continue to push for a permanent CIR. Read more at http://www-tech.mit.edu/V128/N38/acsr.html.
Middlebury College CIR is working on proxy voting guidelines and hopes to meet with the fund manager who invests their money to determine a process for voting on the whole endowment. They are also pushing the school to sign onto the UN Principles of Responsible Investment.
Mount Holyoke College students recently met with their administration after proposing their final investment in a Community Development Financial Institution in Worcester. Due to poor mutual fund performance the students are fundraising in order to meet the minimum requirements for this final investment, mostly by asking alumnae to donate. The students are also lobbying for a password-protected site that would allow the campus community to find information about investment managers and top holdings. They plan to introduce a proposal integrating community investment into the endowment by fall 2009.
New School University students won their CIR this December after a two and a half day occupation of the school’s signature Greenwich Village building. The full story is available at www.newschoolinexile.com and www.newschoolinexile.blogspot.com. They have since hosted several events to educate themselves and the campus community about how a CIR will work as part of their efforts to bring greater democracy and community accountability to the school. They are also working on a community investment proposal.
New York University students unsuccessfully pushed for an RI policy and CIR with a two day occupation in February. Full details at www.takebacknyu.com and for commentary http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2009/02/23/the-7-errors-take-back-nyu-made-in-their-occupation/comment-page-1/#comment-9404
Pomona College CIR is busy developing process for increased shareholder engagement and other RI tools.
Princeton University students continue to push for an RI policy that includes addressing the school’s role in supporting HEI’s poor labor practices. Read more at
Rice University students have launched a campaign for an RI policy. Read more at http://media.www.ricethresher.org/media/storage/paper1290/news/2009/03/13/Opinion/Endowment.Must.Be.Handled.Responsibly-3670776.shtml
Sarah Lawrence College students have launched a campaign for a responsible investment policy.
Seattle University The Seattle University Committee on Responsible Investment is organizing an interdisciplinary Northwest Sustainability Conference which incorporates education around socially and environmentally responsible investment and revolving loan funds. They have recently started a campus Revolving Loan Fund for Sustainability Projects and oversight committee as a sub-group of the CRI and are in the process of proposing the incorporation of a new RI policy for their endowment which includes a sustainability clause and increased investment in microfinance and community investment.
State University of NY Stony Brook students are working on a divesting from war profiteers and getting the school to adopt an RI policy.
Tufts University Students at Tufts for Investing Responsibly (STIR) won a meeting with their administration after increasing their visibility by involving alumni, staff, and a securing passage of a student government resolution. That meeting resulted in increased communication and good feelings between the administration and the existing CIR. STIR continues to advocate for increased transparency and a broader committee representation while acknowledging the administration’s concessions. http://www.tuftsdaily.com/tufts_behind_on_endowment_transparency-1.1598792 and http://www.tuftsdaily.com/endowment-transparency-allows-students-to-encourage-socially-responsible-investing-1.1600757
University of California student Regent D’artagnan Scorza has successfully presented revised proxy voting guidelines to the investment committee that students wrote as part of a Proxy Guidelines Working Group. The school is now looking into proxy voting services and researching the additional administrative costs of maintaining an RI policy.
University of California-Berkeley Members of the student government and the Graduate assembly have developed a strong and detailed draft proposal and presented it to the administrators of the UC Berkeley endowment as well as a vice-Chancellor. Their initial response has been welcoming, and they have agreed to meet with us soon to enter negotiations.
University of California-Los Angeles Students are working out of the Undergraduate student government president’s office to create a CIR at their campus foundation. They have submitted a proposal to the chair of their Board of Director’s executive committee and will present it formally in April. The campaign was also recognized by thepeoplespeak.org, a UN Foundation, and awarded a $500 mini-grant to assist the project.
University of Houston students are collecting signatures from the community to petition the UH administration in an ongoing campaign to pressure the school to divest from Sudan. More information at www.uhdivest.org.
University of Michigan have met with their administration to propose an RI policy and are building support in their community as they work out the details. Read more at http://www.michigandaily.com/content/2009-03-18/standing-investors and http://annarborchronicle.com/2009/03/22/students-press-um-on-tuition-sustainability/
University of Michigan-Dearborn Students for Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) have made great progress since the REC conference in October of last year. HEI: We attended an event in Ann Arbor for the HEI campaign, held a small-group screening of the documentary from UNITE HERE and continue to collect postcard signatures to be sent to our university’s CFO. Gaza: We are currently working with Amnesty International to host a call-in/write-in day where students will be encouraged to call and write to their congressmen regarding their inexcusable response to the situation in Gaza. Divestment: We, along with a couple other orgs, are also pursuing a new divestment resolution (to divest from companies that benefit from illegal Israeli occupation) that calls on the support of all registered student organizations on campus. Proxy voting: Most recently, we have been in contact with students from the Ann Arbor campus that are working on passing a resolution to allow proxy voting on social, political and environmental issues. We hope to join their efforts in the near future and continue collaborating with other clubs on campus to promote socially responsible investing.
University of North Dakota Students for a Democratic Society have launched a campaign for an RI policy especially targeting greening the endowment.
University of Rochester Alumni at the University of Rochester are again submitting requests for proxy votes to the University Investment Committee. They are also working with students to support their campaigns, and are looking to work with other Alumni groups around the country. SDS has also launched an Israeli occupation of Palestine divestment campaign and continues to pressure the administration to adopt a stronger RI policy. More at http://www.rightsidenews.com/200902133650/culture-wars/university-officials-struggle-to-explain-israeli-divestment-moves.html
University of Vermont students are working with their SRI working group to push for a stronger RI policy. They are preparing a presentation for the leader member of the group who is also on the Board of Trustees Investment Committee. They are also beginning to educate the student body about RI. http://socialistworker.org/2009/04/23/uvm-students-occupation
University of Virginia students met with student council leadership and are soon meeting with a faculty committee on sustainability to build support for an RI policy.
Washington University of St. Louis Students have launched a campaign for greater endowment transparency.
Wellesley College students are pushing the school for greater transparency in investment decisions and investigating what kind of policy would best fit.
Wesleyan College Wesleyan's Board of Trustees approved the creation of a Committee for Investor Responsibility (CIR) last spring. The CIR will expand on Wesleyan's current Endowment Advisory Committee, which is all students, by adding faculty, staff, and alumni. Students are currently working with the Investment Office and members of the Board to finalize the committee's charter and get it moving in time for proxy season!
Yale University students have developed a process and determined advisors for the Dwight Hall student-managed SRI fund. They continue to push the school to take action on HEI’s poor labor practices.
After just months of campaigning back in the spring of 2008, the Seattle University Committee on Responsible Investment was approved to get rolling in the fall of '08..
Students got pumped up at the REC National Conference in October and spent the remainder of the quarter spreading the word about SRI. Info sessions and collaboration with other student organizations gave the term CRI a name on campus, but it wasn’t until November that CRI was given a face… several faces actually.
We teamed up with the Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace to head up the Seattle projects for the National Days of Action Against Coal and Coal Finance. Soon we had activists from the Seattle Backbone Brigade, Cascade Climate Network and Cool State Sierra Student Coalition asking to join us in our efforts to stand up against Citi’s and Bank of America’s financing of coal power and mountain-top removal mining. A week of tabling on campus and dispersing pamphlets educated SU students about the issue and hundreds of signatures and photos for our petitions educated the financial institutions about our disapproval of their investment practices. By Friday we held a peaceful protest and marched from the Seattle Federal Building to the Seattle Bank of America headquarters. Banners, stickers and our enormous climate change polar bear, Snowflake, informed the public of the banks’ irresponsible practices.
After a successful campaign we began officially accepting applications for CRI. Just two weeks after the National Days of Action, Bank of America announced that it was phasing out its financing of mountain-top removal mining!
Now that CRI is official, just think what we can do! As a brand new committee, SU CRI is looking forward to creating a responsible investment policy for the entire network of Jesuit universities and reallocating a small percentage of the endowment into a Community Development Credit Union. We are looking forward to hosting a NW SRI conference in the spring and spreading the word about REC throughout the region. If you have questions or are interested in collaborating with SU, please feel free to contact Maura Rendes.