Deans afraid of prof-raiding, says Ryerson exec

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By Stephen Huebl

Ryerson deans are afraid that other universities will steal professors from their faculties, the university’s vice-president academic told the Finance Committee last week.

“A number of deans are anxious about being able to retain faculty in the face of potentially predatory hiring by other universities,” Errol Aspevig told the committee.

With the double cohort looming, universities across the province are looking to hire more professors this year.

Vivek Goel, vice-provost faculty at the University of Toronto, said his school needs to fill over 200 positions for next year.

“Everyone in North America is trying to hire, but especially in Ontario given the double cohort,” he said.

Goel wouldn’t admit to actively professors from other universities, but said that if professors from other universities were looking to move, U of T would look at the vacancies it needs to fill.

Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse admitted that Ryerson couldn’t match a school like U of T when it came to salaries for professors.

“Some universities, like the University of Toronto, have a lot more money to offer than Ryerson could possibly,” he said.

Aspevig told the Finance Committee that the university was prepared to match offers given to its faculty.

The university has set aside an extra $800,000 to hire and retain faculty next year, on top of the money it has budgeted for hiring 85 new professors.

Michael Doucet, president of the Ryerson Faculty Association, said Ryerson is at risk of losing existing faculty, who have grievances with the way they are treated.

“It’s very competitive, especially for younger faculty,” he said.

Last year, 11 RFA members resigned to take positions elsewhere. Doucet said most of them were the lower-paid ‘mode two’ professors, who have been hired since 1991.

Faculty at Ryerson are split into two groups. All faculty hired before 1991 are classified as mode one professors. Mode one professors earn about $10,000 more per year on average.

Politics professor Neil Thomlinson said this working environment has created a temptation for many faculty to seek jobs elsewhere, where they are almost guaranteed a higher salary.

The average starting salary for an assistant professor at U of T is $73,000, though this is somewhat skewed by the salaries of highly paid faculty members such as law professors.

Lajeunesse said that reaching a new contract deal with the faculty association would solve many of the university’s problems with holding on to its professors.

He told the Finance Committee that if the RFA accepted the university’s latest offer, faculty members would see their paychecks go up by almost 10 per cent.

He said the current collective agreement was putting Ryerson at a disadvantage because it did not allow the university much leeway to pay professors based on market demand.

“Other institutions have flexibility that we don’t have because our collective agreement dates back to before we were a university,” he said.

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