Jan 182013


By Jason Warick, The StarPhoenix

Two University of Saskatchewan administrators who resigned last year will continue to receive a total of more than $1.3 million in salary and other compensation in the coming months, The StarPhoenix has learned.


Peter MacKinnon, who resigned in June after a 13year presidency, will be paid his full annual salary of $425,000 for two years.


Former vice-president Richard Florizone, who was already on paid leave from the U of S when he accepted the president’s job at Dalhousie University in November, will receive his full salary of $349,827 until April 14.


When pension contributions and expenses are factored in, MacKinnon’s total compensation from the university over two years will be $962,826. Florizone’s total compensation during the period will be $381,240.


Florizone’s leave was approved by MacKinnon, whose own contract was negotiated by a committee of the U of S board of governors.


In an interview, Florizone called his compensation a “pretty standard package,” noting the university’s new president, Ilene Busch-Vishniac, accepted the job here while on paid leave from McMaster University.


Florizone said he believes his paid leave will be of benefit to the U of S and Saskatchewan as a whole.


“I have deep roots in Saskatchewan. I hope to stay engaged,” he said.


MacKinnon declined to comment.


Attractive packages are necessary to hire talented individuals, U of S board vice-chair Susan Milburn said in an interview.


“We look at the competitive environment. We need to go head-to-head (with other universities),” Milburn said.


U of S associate vice-president of human resources Barb Daigle said the payments were not part of a severance package, since MacKinnon and Florizone both resigned voluntarily. Such compensation packages are standard for senior leaders at Canadian universities, Daigle said.


“We don’t want to be at the bottom of the pack.”


MacKinnon’s contract guarantees him two years of paid administrative leave, because he served more than 10 years. Milburn and Daigle said these leaves, like the paid research sabbaticals taken by professors, benefit the university and the wider community. They noted, for example, MacKinnon is now writing a book.


“These leaves are very producive,” Milburn said.


Brian Zamulinski, president of the union representing U of S sessional lecturers, said MacKinnon’s compensation package amounts to a million-dollar “book advance” worthy of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.


Zamulinski said he himself brings more than $300,000 in tuition revenue to the U of S every semester by teaching three philosophy classes with a total of 250 students. For this, Zamulinski is paid roughly $20,000 per semester, as are the university’s 240 other sessional lecturers who handle full class loads.


He noted MacKinnon and Florizone are leaving at a time when the university is projecting a budget shortfall of $44.5 million by 2016. The university announced Monday it is cutting 40 administrative and support services jobs this month in a first round of layoffs. This is expected to save about $2.3 million annually. Last week Busch-Vishniac announced the university will rank hundreds of academic and administrative programs and services, with those areas ranking low subject to cuts or mergers.



“I don’t understand it. I think it’s outrageous,” Zamulinski said of the compensation packages. “It strikes me that people who choose to stop working for an institution should stop receiving a salary.”


The university’s Emma Lake campus will be shuttered to save $500,000 during the next four years. Clerical staff and others have been laid off, and the university announced last week that a ranking system will be adopted to search for further, much deeper cuts.


University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union president Jared Brown said he predicts “students are not going to be too happy” about the compensation. He declined further comment, as the USSU president sits on the university’s board of governors.


Busch-Vishniac earns a base annual salary of $400,000. MacKinnon’s salary started at the $200,000 point in 1999 when he began as president.


Jim Turk, president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said salaries and contracts for senior university administrators are “way out of line.”


Ten to 20 years ago, most university presidents and vice-presidents were professors who took time away from their careers to serve as administrators. They would take a paid leave to catch up on new developments before returning to their academic role.


Now, universities are often overseen by career administrators who may not need a leave, but can demand it during negotiations with their boards, Turk said.


The University of Regina has a similar leave structure to the U of S in place for senior administrators, according to its website.


Turk said if a U of R professor took a paid sabbatical and then left for another job, as Florizone has done, that salary could be clawed back.


“Why would the (U of S) board of governors not have negotiated that?” he asked.


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