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David Swensen Apologizes for ‘Intemperate Language’

The Yale CIO addresses the emails in which he called a Yale student a “coward” and asked if she could “understand simple English.”

David Swensen, chief investment officer of Yale University's $27 billion endowment, has penned a letter regarding the series of emails in which he blasted student journalists for “disgusting” and “inexcusable” behavior.

The emails, made public this weekend by the Yale Daily News, the school's student newspaper, show Swensen responding angrily to a decision made by the paper's editors to remove a sentence from a column that Swensen had authored, after he asked them not to edit the piece before publishing it. In one email, he called the paper's editor-in-chief, a Yale junior, a “coward.”

“I apologize for the intemperate language,” Swensen wrote in a letter published Wednesday by the Yale Daily News. “I stand firm in my profound unhappiness with the News.”

In the letter, Swensen described the interactions between him and the News editors as an “unfortunate exchange,” explaining that he had been “astonished and angry” to discover the changes made to his column.

“The questions ‘Don't you understand simple English?’ and ‘What is the matter with you?’ came to mind after the unauthorized printing of my op-ed, as did the adjectives ‘disgusting’ and ‘inexcusable,’” Swensen wrote. 

The changes included the removal of a sentence that the News editors believed to be factually inaccurate. A footnote was also taken out, according to Swensen. The Yale Daily News re-inserted the deleted sentence in response to Swensen's emails, and published an editors' note addressing the situation, which linked to a PDF of the email exchange.

“In a national climate in which journalists have increasingly come under attack, we are disheartened that a Yale administrator considers this an appropriate way to voice concerns to the News,” the editors wrote.

[II Deep Dive: David Swensen Rips 'Cowardly' Yale Student Journalists in Email Spat]

Swensen told II on Monday that the publication of the emails was an “ethical breach,” a sentiment he repeated in the letter.

“It was an informal exchange, clearly not written for publication,” he wrote. “I question the ethics of the decision to publish without my permission.”

At the end of the letter, Swensen said that he has “devoted [his] career to serving Yale,” noting that the endowment provides “across-the-board support” for the university, including allowing Yale to be need-blind globally.

“I love this university, particularly its students, which is why in addition to managing Yale's endowment, I teach and mentor whenever I have the opportunity,” he wrote. “I hope that strengthening Yale, one of the world's truly great institutions, will be my legacy.”

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