Administration undertake salary freeze

Initiative will save Western $240,000 next year

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A salary freeze has now taken effect for Western’s top administrators in an attempt to reduce the university’s spending in today’s tough economic climate.

The administrators affected by this freeze are the university’s vice-presidents, associate vice-presidents, vice-provosts, deans and university librarian. A total of 26 people are affected by the freeze.

The decision was announced by Western President Paul Davenport last Thursday.

“I’m fine with it, I think it’s the right thing to do,” said John Doerksen, vice-provost for academic programs and students, whose salary was frozen.

“I know that it’s not going to make a huge amount of difference in the overall large university budget, but I think it’s important that people who are in a position of leadership are taking this step.”

Doerksen added he felt this sentiment was the overwhelming response of those affected.

But some were not so sure.

“This particular maneuver will not save enough money to result in many jobs being saved, but it’s a gesture " a gesture that’s much appreciated,” Mike Carroll, president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, said.

“But these people are already earning fairly large salaries, so freezing their salaries at current levels is hardly a hardship,” Carroll added.

Fred Longstaffe, Western’s vice-president academic, explained the group of 26 had advocated for the freeze, noting the move would save Western about $240,000 from its operating budget.

“The freeze has been made in recognition of the difficult situation currently faced by the university in its operating budget,” Longstaffe said. “This represents a personal contribution by members of the senior administration towards a resolution of that situation.”

“There’s been a lot of conversation, starting last fall, when a lot of senior leaders were coming forward saying that [the freeze] would be a good idea,” Doerksen added.

Carroll, however, thought the decision could have been made earlier.

“If anything, they are a little late coming to this gesture,” he said.

“This is something that other universities did weeks ago. McMaster [and] Toronto, they froze their senior administrative salaries several weeks ago. If anything, this is simply a delayed reaction of Western, trying to put on a good face,” he said.

Doerksen acknowledged it may appear that way, but insisted conversations on freezing salaries had already occurred last fall.

“It would have been great if we’d been able to come out earlier,” he added.

Carroll also noted that, in addition to their paid salaries, senior administrators receive other perks. He explained there is an article coming out in the Faculty Times, a publication from the UWOFA, which will focus on these additional benefits. He briefly discussed one of the perks, an administrator’s grant.

“Many of them get an administrator’s grant automatically each year. It ranges from typically $20,000 up to $60,000 for a year. This is not something that they have to apply for, this is something that they get automatically and get tax free since it is a research grant,” Carroll said.

While Longstaffe said he could only speak for himself, he explained his annual research grant was used to support some of his salary, as well as the research costs of his graduate students and a post-doctoral fellow.

“The much larger balance of these expenses, though, are paid through research grants and contracts that I compete for regularly from external sources,” he added.

Details on Western’s budget updates can be found at www.uwo.ca.

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