College presidents: gaining on their more highly paid university peers

The pay of college executives still trails that of universities, but they’re catching up

Colleges are often unfairly seen as the second tier of the higher education universe—and, as we noted last year, that extends to the compensation of college administrators, who have long been paid substantially less than their university peers

So did anything change in 2008? Yes. Ontario’s Sunshine List salary disclosure was released today, and the tally of Ontario college employees earning more than $100,000 (the threshold for inclusion on the list) is, as always, much shorter than the count for universities. However, the number of college senior administrators earning more than $200,000 has grown by nearly two-thirds, and several highly paid college heads are taking home university-president-sized paychecks.

The highest paid college president in Ontario is Frederick Miner of Seneca College. With a salary of $406,000 and taxable benefits worth $5,000, his compensation is enough to put him squarely in the upper tier of university administrators. Miner’s salary is more than that paid to the president of the largest university in the country, David Naylor of the University of Toronto. (The latter’s salary was $380,000).

Conestoga College president John Tibbits was paid $387,000. That’s more than the president of neighbouring Wilfrid Laurier University. (The president of the other university just down the road, the University of Waterloo was however paid about $101,000 more).

The presidents of five other Ontario colleges — Humber, Sheridan, George Brown, Mohawk and Algonquin — earned over $300,000. Their pay is below that awarded the presidents of large Ontario universities, but in line with the compensation given to presidents of smaller Ontario universities. For example, Dennis Mock, president of Nipissing University, Ontario’s second-smallest public university, was paid $271,000. Bonnie Patterson, president of Brock, last year received total compensation of $338,000.

The pay gap between colleges and universities appears to be larger in Western Canada. According to BC public sector salary disclosure, as compiled by the Vancouver Sun, there were 182 employees of the BC university and college system earning more than $200,000. (Data is for either 2006-07 or 2007-08). Of those 182 highly paid individuals, only two were from the college or institute system: the acting and outgoing presidents of BCIT. (What’s more, hardly any of the 182 members of the over $200K club came from the former university college system; almost all worked at one of the province’s four traditional universities, in particular UBC).

For example, the president of Camosun College, a large public college in Victoria, BC, earned $185,000 in 2007-08—or less than half the remuneration of the president of the cross-town University of Victoria. And the head of UBC-Okanagan collected a paycheck in 2007-08 of $322,000—or nearly double that awarded to the president of nearby (and former sister institution) Okanagan College.

(Click on chart to enlarge.)