By Mariana Ionova
Even though head of projects and real estate Elisabeth Stroback is costing the university nearly a third of a million dollars per year, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said she’s worth keeping around long-term.
Through a freedom of information request of Stroback’s contract, the Eyeopener learned that her $275,000 salary places her among the university’s top-paid executives, even though the former head of Ryerson’s real estate portfolio earned $85,000 less.
Stroback’s contract also states that she was required to work four and a half days a week until June 30, 2011 and four days a week for the remainder of her employment.
Levy said Stroback is worth the cost and he would like to see her contract extended past next April so she can remain with the university until all projects currently underway are completed.
“We have roughly a quarter of a billion dollars of construction going on. This is big stuff,” said Levy.
“At the end of the day, with so much money, you better pay for talent and quality. So you are investing in talent in order to ensure you’re going to have the very best person as the senior [employee] managing a very complex and very large portfolio and capital.”
Stroback was hired on a one-year contract last May, when then-director of Campus Planning and Facilities (CPF) Ian Hamilton suddenly retired.
The CPF department was reorganized and Hamilton’s position was split into two separate jobs — Capital Projects and Real Estate, which deals with the university’s real estate portfolio, and Campus Planning and Sustainability, which is responsible for building maintenance and custodial services.
The former position was given to Stroback, who at the time was acting as senior advisor of construction and real estate to VP administration and finance Julia Hanigsberg.
Hamilton received $190,000 per year but after Stroback replaced him the salary for the real estate management position shot up to $275,000.
Levy said hiring Stroback and amping up the salary for the position was a smart financial move on the part of the university.
“With Ian [Hamilton], we used to hire a lot of consultants that you didn’t see and we thought, why hire consultants to be able to handle things that [Stroback] can handle,” said Levy.
“When you actually look at what it really did cost in comparison, this is in fact a very smart move for the university and our hope is that she is going to be here for a heck of a lot longer than a year.”
Prior to coming to Ryerson, Stroback was vice-president of Infrastructure Ontario, an organization dealing with the management, planning and design of projects across the province.
From 2004 until 2007, Stroback was also on the board of directors of the Housing Services Incorporated (HSI), a company owned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).
The company came under scrutiny in February after a report by the city’s auditor general found the TCHC was grossly misspending its funds and failing to follow purchasing procedures.
The auditor general’s report stated the HSI’s involvement in the case was unclear, yet the company is listed as a major service provider on the TCHC’s website.