By Vanessa Greco
Top-earners at Ryerson might see their wages frozen in an attempt to cope with budget shortfalls.
Ryerson’s operating budget is facing a total cut of about eight per cent to fi ve per cent this year, and three per cent the year after.
Discussion is underway on a salary freeze that might target the highestpaid employees at Ryerson. Proposed wage freezes are among many ways Ontario universities are trying to balance the books in a rough economy.
“It’s under very active consideration by the administration,” said president Sheldon Levy, who earns $344,583 a year. He said that he will be donating some of his salary to a bursary program at Ryerson.
The idea of suspending salary increases is backed by some of Ryerson’s highest paid employees.
VP research and innovation, Tas Venetsanopoulos, said he’d support a salary freeze for those who could afford it. In 2008, earned $301,843.
All details involving a potential salary freeze are still under discussion, said Adam Kahan, VP university advancement who hasn’t yet taken a stance on the issue. As the top earner at Ryerson, he made around $358,644 last year.
Kahan doesn’t believe it’s fair to compare Ryerson to other Ontario universities that have frozen wages.
“Each university needs to make a situation based on it’s reality,” he said, adding that with endowments and enrollment all operating budgets vary.
But Kenneth Jones, dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management, worries a salary freeze might scare administrative talent away from Ryerson.
“I probably wouldn’t support one,” he said. “It might hurt the university’s ability to attract future leaders. It’s a competitive marketplace, and senior administrators have options.”
However, in the midst of a market downturn, universities across Ontario are implementing wage freezes.
In early March, the University of Western Ontario froze the salaries of 26 senior administrators. Top executives at York and the University of Toronto have also seen their salaries capped.
For Darrick Heyd, chair of chemistry and biology, capping Ryerson’s biggest salaries is a gesture rather than a longterm solution.
“You can call it optics. Freezing top salaries only affects a small pool of people,” he said.
“If you’re going to do it in a way that has impact, it’d probably have to be across the board,” said Heyd.
Dave Mason, president of the Ryerson Faculty Association, agrees, adding he is more concerned about proposed cuts in department budgets.
“If by freezing top salaries they don’t do the cuts they’re proposing, it’d be a good thing.”