On Campus

Colleges presidents salaries up, too

Since 1997, some college leaders have enjoyed bigger raises than their university peers

Ontario’s community colleges generally doubled the financial compensation of their presidents between 1997 and 2007, matching and in some cases exceeding the pace of pay increases offered the province’s university presidents over the same period.

Only 38 college administrators earned $100,000 in 1997, but that number had increased to almost 750 by 2007.

According to disclosures made under Ontario’s so-called “Sunshine Law”, no college president earned $200,000 in 1997. 10 years later, however, none of them makes less than that amount. Indeed, nearly a dozen colleges doubled their presidential salaries and three of them paid their presidents more than $250,000.

The best-paid president in 2007 was Seneca College’s Rick Miner. He received $367,041.92 in salary and taxable benefits. That is 150 per cent more than his predecessor, Stephen Quinlan, earned in 1997. In real dollar terms, once inflation since 1997 is taken into account, it an increase of 78 per cent.

Sheridan College’s Robert Turner, who netted $323,845.38 in salary and benefits, earned almost triple the $119,247.53 paid in 1997 to then-president Sheldon Levy. Levy is now the president of Ryerson University.

By comparison, the University of Windsor was the university most generous to its president. It increased the position’s salary by 185 per cent over the same period of time.

The figures released under Ontario law do not annualize salaries and taxable benefits paid but instead reveals the exact dollar amount of salary and taxable benefits paid to each designated employee. As such, compensation may appear to be lower for employees who worked only a partial year, for example someone on leave or someone who only assumed his or her position part-way through the year.

Five colleges did not declare presidential salaries of over $100,000 in either 1997 or in 2007: College Boreal, Canadore College, Loyalist College and Mohawk College for 1997, and Sault College—which changed presidents last year—for 2007.

The other 19 publicly funded colleges in Ontario, however, did disclose their presidents’ salaries for both years, and the total combined rate of increase is 98.5 per cent. As we mentioned in an earlier article, inflation rose by 24.1 per cent in the same length of time, and average workers’ wages rose by 34.1 per cent.

Jim Knight, the president of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, attributed much of rising-salary trend to market forces.

“There is quite a bit of competition for these people,” he said. “It’s a supply-and-demand issue. If you can’t find the skill you need at a salary level, then the answer might be to go to a different salary level.”

The College Student Alliance’s director of advocacy, Tyler Charlebois, said that although he thinks “some of the salaries that people are paid are a little blown out of proportion,” college presidents could be making more money because their jobs are more demanding than in the past.

“Maybe you could say that there is more responsibility … so more pressure being placed on the president or the CEO,” he said. “And (they are) therefore requesting that there be that compensation on the back end.”

Knight pointed to a looming problem at colleges—a lack of up-and-coming administrators—as one contributing factor to the financial value placed on upper administrators.

“There is an acute shortage of senior administrators on the college side. And there is a huge cadre of people, at the president and upper level of administration, that will be retiring soon,” he said.

Both Charlebois and Knight suggested that college presidents operate at a lower salary level than their counterparts at universities. But the numbers tell a different story.

The average salary of the 21 college presidents whose salaries were disclosed in 2007 was $269,961. That is well below the compensation of the highest paid university presidents. However, it is equivalent to the average pay of Ontario’s 10 lowest-paid university presidents, who earned an average of only $270,314 in 2007.

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