Volume 90, Issue 98

Wednesday, April 02, 1997



Money, that's what they've got as Western's top wage earners

By Adrian Leung
Gazette Staff

A list of Western's top salary earners was released Monday and it includes some familiar names.

In accordance with the provincial Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, 1996, Western has released the names of all employees who earn a salary of $100,000 or more a year.

Some notable people returning to the list this year include Western's president Paul Davenport who ranks third with $203,052 a year plus benefits; William Surphlis, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry, earns $218,290 while Robert McMurtry, dean of medicine tops the list at $256,524.

This year the number of people listed has increased to 137 from 126 last year and there has been a minor increase to most salaries. "The main reason for the increase is because the [end of the] social contract has put some individuals back on the list and there were some pay equity adjustments," said Carol Weldon, vice-chair of Western's Board of Governors.

One of the primary reasons why universities and other public institutions have to release names of individuals who earn over $100,000 has to do with the issue of public accountability. So far at Western the information has been received without much objection.

"Salary disclosure is fairly well-accepted in the public sector because of the necessity of accountability and it is not considered an infringement on personal privacy," Weldon said. "It's part of the deal."

"The administration is very comfortable with the release," said Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic. "Western is a public institution and is responsible to society at large. We're funded by student tuition and from government grants that come from taxes. We're not opposed to it and we support the sense of openness."

It is this sense of openness that Chris Keith, the University Students' Council's VP-finance, said he is hoping for from the administration. "It's about accountability and the tax-payers have a right to know," he said. "The UWO Act was an attempt to try and increase accountability and it looks like Western is complying – or at least I hope it's a sign it will be more open."

Ryan Parks, USC president-elect, said he supports the concept of disclosure in principle but added he is worried about possible infringement on personal privacy. "I can see the rationale behind releasing the salary list, but having said that I'm sure I wouldn't want my name on the list if I made that much money," he said. "There is a fine line between accountability and privacy."

Weldon said the salary list highlights the discrepancies between the amount of money public and private sector employees earn. "Western's salaries are comparable to the university sector but are lower than the private sector. They are lower particularly in senior level administration positions."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997