U of C makes president’s contract public

By Amy Badry

July 1 marked the first official day on the job for Elizabeth Cannon as the eleventh president of the University of Calgary. Another first is the publication of the president’s contract which was posted online listing, among other details, Cannon’s take-home base salary at $430,000.

The U of C decided to post Cannon’s contract on its website after the school was heavily criticized by both the public and the auditor general last year over former president Harvey Wiengarten’s pension package. The $4.5 million package was agreed upon in a ‘handshake’ deal in 2001, but not added to an updated employment contract until 2008.

“The decision was made to post her contract online the day we announced her selection as president in April,” said U of C media relations officer Grady Semmens.

Semmens explained the contract was made public “in order to be open and transparent.”

This is the first time a U of C president’s contract has been posted online.

Cannon will also receive $16,000 for a car, a $12,000 executive allowance and potential bonuses of up to 20 per cent of her gross salary each year as president.

External consultant Tower Hudson was involved in establishing the compensation package.

“Part of the process was to look at the compensation for university presidents across Canada,” said Semmens.

Cannon’s salary represents an average for university presidents in the G13 — the 13 largest universities in Canada. University of Alberta president Indira V. Samarasekera is currently the highest paid post-secondary executive in the country with a base salary of $479,000 and non-cash benefits (not including pension) of $222,000 which includes her home purchased by the university. Cannon turned down an offer from the U of C for home benefits.

According to Semmens, the U of C is taking other steps to ensure fiscal goals are fair, balanced and transparent. Sessions are being held and more are scheduled to allow university faculty and students to provide input into the budgetary process as it unfolds.

“[The U of C] will continue communicating the steps that are being taken to try to meet some of the budgetary challenges the university is facing this year and in future years,” said Semmens.

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