All the presidents’ contracts

How much does your university president make? The definitive guide

Ontario universities began releasing their presidential contracts two weeks ago in response to a two-year old access to information request from the Hamilton Spectator, and many have now made them public.

We have been updating a table with the details of each contract, links to PDFs of the contracts themselves, and local media coverage that has resulted from the disclosures.

For full-text of each presidential contract, click here.

Update: Presidential pay up nearly 100% compared to 1997, an increase four times greater than the rate of inflation.

Our in-depth coverage began with the contract of long-serving McMaster University president Peter George, and we followed up with a story about Western Ontario president Paul Davenport’s contract when it was released. George’s contract includes a $1.4-million retirement payout in 14 installments of $99,999. Davenport will receive three pensions and a “special executive pension” of $700,000.

We also compiled a chart that illustrates the nearly universal increase of financial compensation paid to Ontario university presidents in the last 10 years. Since 1997, compensation has increased by 97.7 per cent and every school except McMaster has given its president a raise.

Ontario has for more than a decade made public the salaries of all public sector employees earning over $100,000, as part of the province’s so-called Sunshine Law. As a result, the basic annual compensation of all Ontario university president’s has long been public: see our coverage of the this past spring’s salary disclosure, here. However, the details of some of the most important elements of presidential compensation—namely pension and severance arrangements—are not generally part of the Sunshine Law disclosure. And based on those contracts that have been made public over the past two weeks, the severance, pension and administrative leave arrangements accorded some presidents form a significant additional form of compensation.

Several university presidents in southern Ontario won’t have to worry much about finding a new job when their contracts run out at their current digs. On top of their standard pensions, many collect at least an extra year or more of salary at the end of their terms, as part of what is termed “administrative leave.”

According to his contract, Ryerson University’s Sheldon Levy will receive two years “salary continuance” at the end of his term as president if he completes a second term. The University of Toronto’s David Naylor will receive one year’s salary for his duties as president and another 10-months worth for his time as dean of medicine. Wilfrid Laurier’s Max Blouw (who received a $50,000 signing bonus), Guelph’s Alastair Summerlee, and York’s Mamdouh Shoukri will also go on paid administrative leave after completing their terms.

If Levy served two full terms as president, his salary continuance could total at least $625,000. If Levy retired today and collected his retirement money based on his current salary, he would receive no salary continuance (not $625,000, as previously reported in error). Naylor could receive almost $700,000. Blouw could net up to $420,000. Summerlee could also top $400,000 and Shoukri could take in at least $325,000.

These payouts are all on top of regular pensions and in some cases other pensions contained in the contracts.

Professors tend to go on sabbatical once every seven years. Presidents usually serve five-year terms. But they are encouraged to take administrative leave at the end of their respective terms, when they often retire — indeed, these are known as golden handshakes; appreciation for service to the school.

When McMaster president Peter George’s contract was made public last week, at least one group on that campus refused to believe that administrative leave was a legitimate means of paying retired presidents for their service.

The McMaster University Faculty Association (MUFA) says George’s paid leave is questionable and does not meet McMaster’s own criteria for academic leave.

“Administrative Research Leaves are intended to assist a former administrator in making the transition back to full scholarly life,” MUFA stated in a release sent to Maclean’s. “Neither Research nor Administrative Research Leaves are simply an employee benefit. Their purpose has always been to assist McMaster in maintaining research and educational excellence.”

MUFA pointed to a double standard for faculty at the university. Faculty members who do not use research leaves cannot defer them into compensation.