Who is Ontario’s most highly paid professor?

Highest paid are in business, medicine

Every year, legions of new bright-eyed university students aspire to a six-figure salary in business or at a top-tier medical practice. But according to figures released this week on Ontario’s salary disclosure day, the big money could also be in becoming a business or medical professor.

More: Who made the $500,000 club?

Go West, ambitious university president

Last year, twelve out of thirteen professors making more than $300,000 in the province taught business or medicine. That means they earned more than most executives at medium-sized universities. On disclosure day, all eyes are on the rapid growth of university presidential salaries, but last year many business and medical professors were quietly clocking big bucks.

Last year, we reported that the top-paid professor in 2007 was Brian Golden of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business. In 2007, he earned $303,490. But the bar has since been raised. In 2008, 13 professors, all without senior management responsibilities, made more.

This year’s leading professor appears to be McMaster University assistant professor Gary Chaimowitz, who made $373,321. However, while listed in the disclosure as an assistant professor Chaimowitz also holds an administrative position as Head of Service, Forensic Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. He also holds an MBA, merging his medical knowledge with business management a potent earning combination.

Many hospital-based physicians and hospital administrators at university teaching hospitals also hold the title of medical school professor, because of the close relationship between medical schools and teaching hospitals. As we noted in this story, in the United States, almost all of the most highly paid academics are senior physicians or hospital administrators, with some earning more than US$1 million a year. In the U.S., many hospitals are part of a university, and therefore many of those people are considered to be university employees. In Canada, they often aren’t, because of a different corporate relationship between hospital and university. But you get a sense of how much their Canadian medical equivalents (some of whom would also be med school professors) are making from this list.

Leaving medical schools aside, the 2009 title for Ontario’s top paid professor without senior administrative responsibilities goes to John Hull, a finance professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business. He received total compensation of $364,335 last year. Closely behind are fellow Rotman professors Glen Whyte and William Strange, who earned $363,290 and $354,231 respectfully.

Ontario’s top paid female professor is Deborah Cook of McMaster University’s Faculty of Medicine, who made $349,943. The most highly paid female professor not at a medical school is Brenda Zimmerman, who is an associate professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. She made $314,612 last year, in part for teaching a course called “Understanding the Canadian Health Industry.”

In British Columbia, the highest paid person in 2007 was Lorne Whitehead, who is currently a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia. With a regular salary of $260,000, Whitehead gave up his post as vice-president academic in exchange for a lump-sum payment that brought his yearly earnings to a whopping $573,636.

That same year, the province’s highest paid female was former UBC president Martha Piper, who made $400,000 in 2007 as a professor of rehab sciences. As she stepped down in June 2006 for incoming president Stephen Toope and received a severence, that paycheque may not have been entirely for service as a professor.

The second most highly paid woman in British Columbia, Judith Issac-Renton, was also in the medical profession. She is a professor of pathology at UBC and is also the director of laboratory services for the province’s Centre for Disease Control. For this double-barreled profession she took home $333,621 in 2007.

In fact, out of the top 20 highest-paid university professors or administrators in British Columbia, nine were professors or directors in the medical profession, while five were business professors or working at a business school. University presidents and senior administrators filled out the list, along with Whitehead, and the University of British Columbia proved to be a heavyweight, employing nearly 16 of the 20 priciest employees.

Back in Ontario and more recently, Pekka Sinervo, a University of Toronto physics professor who made $305,219 was the sole exception to the all-business-and-medicine club. Sinervo served as Dean of Arts and Science until March 1, 2008, when he took a four-month administrative leave. Sinervo ended his term as Dean one year early and subsequently returned to being a professor.

To the non-surprise of many, this year’s salary disclosure seems to confirm studies showing that professors in professional programs such as law, medicine, business and engineering make at least 50 per cent more than the average humanities professor. That is, unless those humanities profs follow a career path similar to that of ex-Carleton president and English professor David Atkinson.