By Laura Blenkinsop
Life is sweet if you’re Sheldon Levy.
Not only did the president get a $17,000 raise last year, he’s also got the school paying for his furniture, his car and his steakhouse dinners.
In 2007, Levy’s salary jumped to $312,500 from $295,416.69, according to Ontario’s Public Sector Salary Disclosure 2008, released by the provincial government last week.
“The board felt I was significantly behind the others,” Levy said, explaining that the Board of Governors gave him a big raise to bring his salary in line with what other presidents are making.
Levy nearly tripled University of Toronto president David Naylor’s $5,879.98 raise. Naylor declined a bigger raise because U of T is already pressed for finances, said Robert Steiner, U of T’s assistant vice-president strategic communications.
On top of paying him a hefty salary, Ryerson set Levy up in a Yorkville condo with chandeliers and a coffee table to accommodate 20 people when he first came to the school in 2005. Caterers, cleaning staff and cooks help Levy wine and dine accomplished students, campus leaders and potential donors.
When the home isn’t enough, Levy can hop into his wheels (paid for by Ryerson) and take donors out for dinner on the school’s dime — he prefers Pickle Barrel and the Outback Steakhouse.
The president racks up between $400 and $500 a month on dinners and theatre with potential donors and upwards of $1,600 if he travels, which he charges to Ryerson’s corporate credit card.
His last trip was with Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae to an urban university conference in Phoenix last month.
Ken Marciniec, a former Ryerson student and advocate with the Canadian Federation of Students, says it’s becoming increasingly common for universities to pay university administrators corporate salaries.
“I don’t think this serves students well,” he said.
But Levy says the big money isn’t really for him.
He’s entitled to a health club membership and financial advice, but he doesn’t take them. He’s also opted out of his long-term disability health benefits.
He’s asked the university to calculate how much they save and put it towards a fund for students with disabilities. Ditto with $30,000 of his pay.
Last summer, he ditched the condo in favour of purchasing his own house in Davisville. While Ryerson paid the $650,000 for it, the condo was counted as part of Levy’s income and he had to pay taxes on it.