Proposed pay hike for college presidents ‘unacceptable’

Proposed $494,000 maximum may not be the actual salary set by college’s board of governors

College presidents may not  get quite the pay increase they hoped for.

A statement byDeb Matthews, Ontario’s minister of advanced education and skills development, on Jan. 26 called the proposed pay increases for college presidents and senior executives “unacceptable” and said that it was clear that they need to change.

The plan by GBC proposed a maximum salary for the president of $494,000.

According to Ontario’s Public Sector Salary Disclosure list, GBC president Anne Sado earned $358,700 in 2015. The new maximum salary, if approved, would be a 37 per cent increase.

Brian Stock, GBC’s director of communications, points out that the actual salary set by the college’s board of governors could be different than the proposed maximum.

“Despite the sensational reports that have been out there our board will make a fiscally responsible decision, especially in light of the current state of the system,” said Stock. “They’re not going to suggest irresponsible increases for our executives.”

In an email to staff, Sado wrote, “developing the framework is a board role and I have confidence that they will arrive at a recommendation that is fair and that the government will support.”Sado has been the president of GBC since 2004 and was recruited from Bell where she was a senior vice-president.

“While Anne has been here a long time and has served the college for many years, I think that  the overall executive recruitment has been challenging,” said Stock. “We try and hire from both the public and private sector and sometimes we find that it’s hard to compete for those people.”

The union representing staff and faculty at the 24 publicly-funded colleges in Ontario isn’t buying it.”These increases will do nothing to improve the institutions or their ability to perform their role in educating the next generation. Instead, they will drain resources from frontline staff and classrooms, and negatively affect our students,” wrote Marilou Martin ,the chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union’s College Support Division, in an email to Mathews on Jan. 25.

According to documents that were posted on George Brown’s website, and later removed, the college’s board of governors compared salaries and skills with not only much larger universities, such as York and Waterloo, but also hospitals, the LCBO and Toronto Pearson Airport.

“The comparators that they were using were ridiculous.” said Martin who is also the support staff union president at GBC. “To say that a college president is a comparator (to) the CEO of Pearson Airport, where they have so many more employees and so much more complexity—I was shocked.”

Matthews said in her statement that the expectation was that colleges would compare themselves to other colleges in Canada that reflect the size, location, and scope of responsibility in their own organizations.

Riddhi Modi, the student representative on the GBC board of governors,  is also critical of the college comparing itself to larger companies and universities. “You compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges.”

Modi said she supports giving college executives a salary hike, but that the proposed increases are too high.

“I do not support 40 to 50 per cent,” said Modi. “I feel if you do the calculations that something in between 20 to 30 per cent is a good number for the executives.”

Modi is also the director of communications and internal for the Student Association of GBC, which funds The Dialog.

Martin also calls the timing of the consultations, which took place over the winter exam period and closed on Jan. 14, “highly suspect” saying that it was clear that the colleges sought to follow the letter, but not the spirit, of the government’s rules requiring consultations on executive pay.

Stock said there was no hidden agenda to the timing of the consultation. “The timing was purely in order to get the process rolling and have our sector make our decisions in a timely manner.”

The next meeting of the GBC’s board of governors is at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in the career centre of St. James campus and is open to the public.

CLARIFICATION: In an earlier version of this story, Riddhi Modi was identified as the Student Association’s director of communications and internal. She is also the student representative on George Brown College’s board of governors that is proposing the pay increase.

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Proposed pay hike for college presidents ‘unacceptable’