On Campus

Seriously inflated executive compensation

University executives are paid top dollar and, regardless of their success, never leave empty-handed

This story from the National Post reviews the ongoing controversy over executive compensation at McGill University. The story notes that Ms. Ann Dowsett Johnston, former editor of the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities, was paid $761,000 in compensation for less than two years in the position of Vice-Principal.

The story alleges that Ms. Dowsett Johnston, who was hired to head McGill’s $750 million fundraising effort despite a lack of experience in the area of fundraising, was a personal friend of McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum. Intrigue aside, the article raises some important points about the issue of inflated executive compensation at Canadian universities:

. . .the large payout to Ms. Dowsett Johnston is symptomatic of a larger trend in Canada’s publicly funded universities, where raises in executive pay have far outstripped inflation in recent years. As universities adopt the credo that they must function more like corporations, their top executives expect to be paid accordingly. And as in the business world, when things don’t work out, they do not leave empty-handed.