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Yale endowment chief Swensen’s pay falls to $4.2 million in 2015

David Swensen
David Swensen

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

Mr. 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, Conn.-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.

Harvard's former investment chief Stephen Blyth received a package of $14.9 million in 2015, according to tax filings. Harvard, of Cambridge, Mass., 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 CEO 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% in fiscal 2015 compared to Harvard's 5.8% return. The next year, Yale returned 3.4% against Harvard's loss of almost 2%.

Mr. Swensen was the highest-compensated employee at Yale in 2015 even as his total pay package declined 17.6% 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 Mr. 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%, second highest to Princeton University with 8.2%.