On Campus

Hey, where did my tuition money go?

It was spent on the senior administration.

After paying thousands of dollars in tuition, sitting through lectures with hundreds of other students taught by sessional lecturers making less than an assistant manager at McDonald’s and finally having the privilege of paying a graduation fee, it’s no wonder students find themselves asking; Where did my tuition money go?

Students at Hamilton’s McMaster University are learning exactly where their money is going: retirement “bonuses”, social clubs, financial advisers, car allowances, social club memberships, and country clubs for already well paid administrators.

The Hamilton Spectator, in a front page story today, revealed the contracts of McMaster’s 17 vice-presidents, assistant vice-presidents and associate vice-presidents.

The Spectator requested the contracts under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Spectator, to its credit, has posted all the contracts on its website.

The contracts reveal a wide ranging assortment of perks for senior administrators of the university which, despite facing another budget deficit, seems unable to restrain itself in providing the highest compensation to its senior administrators of any public university in Canada.

The most shocking revelation in the contracts is the massive retirement payout afforded to Dr. John Kelton, the university’s vice-president and dean of health sciences. His current contract, which expires June 30, 2011, includes a $1.44 million payout if he retires at that time.

This is the largest known retirement payout of any university employee in Ontario and likely the largest payout in Canada’s post-secondary sector. The payout is on top of any pension he receives as a former senior executive at McMaster University and slightly higher than a planned $1.4 million payout to McMaster president Peter George. By comparison, the largest known payout at another university is in the ballpark of $900,000. That is the expected payout to David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo and former principal of McGill University.

Kelton’s total compensation in 2007 was $403,000 which is more than presidents at all but four other Ontario universities.

Many of the VPs receive memberships in expensive social clubs as part of their perks. This is not shocking and can be justified. In the case of the president, membership in these clubs gives him access to individuals with high wealth; the kind of people who can donate to the university. Surprisingly, the university’s vice-president administration Karen Belaire receives payment of her membership fees (including initiation) at the private Beverly Golf and Country Club in addition to the standard package.

Belaire was paid $264,274.03 in salary during 2007.

The vice-presidents also receive compensation for financial planning expenses and a $700 or $800 car allowance as part of their compensation packages.

You can read the entire Spectator article and see the contracts for yourself by visiting: http://thespec.com/News/Local/article/458156

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