Leadership & Governance

Levin's Exit From Yale Heralds Broader Leadership Change in Ivy League

Michael Marsland, Yale U.

Richard C. Levin, president of Yale U.: "These years have been more rewarding and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined."
August 30, 2012

Higher education's most elite club is increasingly under new management.

Richard C. Levin's announcement on Thursday that he would step down as Yale University's president promises yet another infusion of new blood into the leadership of the Ivy League.

Brown University tapped Christina Hull Paxson as its new president in March, and Dartmouth College is looking to replace Jim Yong Kim, who became president of the World Bank in July.

Mr. Levin, whose 20 years as president make him the Ivy League's longest-serving current chief, plans to resign at the end of the academic year. Even if no other Ivy League presidents do likewise, Mr. Levin's resignation will mean a third of the eight-member conference will have changed leaders in roughly a year.

Shirley M. Tilghman, who has been president of Princeton University for 11 years, is the second-longest-serving president in the Ivy League.

The leadership transition in the Ivies is part of a larger generational shift across higher education, where baby boomers are retiring, often after lengthy tenures.

Mr. Levin, 65, oversaw notable transformations at Yale, where 70 percent of the campus was either significantly or comprehensively renovated during his tenure, university officials said. The university has spent $5-billion on renovation and construction since Mr. Levin took office, in 1993.

Mr. Levin, who joined Yale's faculty in 1974, previously was chairman of the university's economics department and served as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The university's endowment, now valued at $19.4-billion, was worth $3.2-billion when he was named president.

"These years have been more rewarding and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined," Mr. Levin wrote in an e-mail to Yale students, faculty, and staff. "My words on accepting my appointment as president are as true today as they were on April 15, 1993: 'The greatness of this institution humbles me.' I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to serve Yale."

Correction (8/31/2012, 10:09 a.m.): This article originally misstated the newest president of an Ivy League institution. She is Christina Hull Paxson, who took office at Brown University this year, not Drew Gilpin Faust, who became Harvard University's president in 2007. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.