By Patrick Szpak
Associate News Editor
Show them the money.
Figures published by Ontario’s provincial government show the number of Ryerson staff and faculty earning more than $100,000 has ballooned in the last 10 years.
The highest salaries are in senior administration, with Adam Kahan, vice-president of university advancement, earning the most $290,494. President Sheldon Levy comes in a close second, earning $270,000.
It’s not just presidents and senior administrators who are raking in the big bucks. Rank-and-file professors and associate professors are pulling in six-figure incomes at a surprising rate. In 1996 only 17 people at Ryerson were making over $100,000. Today there are 323, an increase of 1,800 per cent.
Alan Sears is a professor of sociology at Ryerson. He has been working at Ryerson for a year and a half, after teaching at the University of Windsor for 19 years. His name does not appear on the list of six-figure earners.
Sears declined to give his income, but said that salaries have risen mainly because of inflationary and incremental increases built into their contracts. He said he understands that the salaries may “anger students who work and live on so little” but urges students to look at comparable salaries in the private sector and at the incomes of high-level executives, who can make hundreds of millions. “When I started (teaching at university) I earned less than a normal school teacher,” said Sears.
He says he even made less than auto-workers who worked overtime in Windsor. For him, the money was secondary to the job. “Many faculty members do the job because they love it.”
Sears said that the salary publication website is a product of the Conservative Harris government. He agreed with providing transparency in public institutions, but believes the list was not the way to do it.
“I think it was designed specifically to shame public employees and outrage taxpayers.”
David Robinson, assistant executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, says the increase in professor salaries is the result of “arcane” salary systems for tenured professors at universities. “There was virtually no hiring in the late 1990s, and the rising wages just reflects the aging professoriate that earns more the longer they teach,” Robinson said.
He said that there has been a tightening of the job market for specialized instructors in programs like computer-science and journalism that lets them demand higher salaries.
The real issue surrounding university salaries was the increasing corporatization of upper university management, said Robinson. “There was a real shift in the 1990s to bring in people for the corporate world to bring in outside money. These people want corporate salaries. ” Robinson said that university presidents and vice-presidents have seen the biggest increases.
He questions whether they are worth the high price-tag when the majority of university operating expenses still come from students’ tuition and provincial grants. “When it comes to university operations, it’s students who are doing the heavy lifting,” Robinson said.