On Campus

President's $1.4-million golden handshake

Retiring McMaster prez to get $99,999/year for 14 years—$1 less than disclosure rules

After nearly two years of fighting against public disclosure, McMaster University released the contract of its president Peter George to The Hamilton Spectator today.

The contract posted by The Spectator on it’s website reveals that George will receive a golden handshake of nearly $1.4 million after his scheduled July 2010 retirement.

The money will be paid over 14 years at a rate of $99,999 a year. (George will have served 15 years as president upon his retirement)

This figure is significant as it is the maximum full-dollar amount the university could, under the rules of disclosure in place when the contract was signed in 2005, pay George without revealing the payment.

Until 2006, Ontario universities were exempt from freedom of information. They have been covered by the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act (PSSDA) since it’s implementation in 1996. PSSDA requires universities to disclosure the names of all employees paid $100,000 or more in a calendar year. If George were paid one dollar more each year after retirement, the university would be required to report it publicly.

Other perks in the contract include two life-insurance policies, $30,000 over the five-year contract for “financial estate planning, including legal counsel, in respect of his personal affairs,” memberships in local clubs, a nearly $11,000 per year car allowance (which is declared as a taxable benefit in his yearly salary disclosure), a $20,000-a-year “Health Care Spending Account” to be used for expenses not covered by the university’s regular staff benefits, and provision for “business-class” air travel on flights longer than four hours.

The contract does not include a salary scale for the president. “The President’s salary shall be subject to annual review on or before June 30 of each contract year,” the contract states.

Last year, George was Ontario’s highest paid university president, with total income and taxable benefits of nearly $505,000.

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