Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Canada’s Best Paid Professor

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Canada’s Best Paid Professor

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


Financial records just released for the University of Toronto show that Shirley Neuman has become Canada’s best-paid university professor, earning more than $347,000 last year. Neuman was born in Alberta, but was recruited to the University of Toronto from the University of Michigan, where she served as dean of the college of literature, science and the arts. Neuman abruptly stepped down as vice-president at the end of January, 2004, then was reassigned to a post as professor in the English department. Although on research and administrative leave until the end of 2005, she continues to draw a salary; a controversial compensation package that has many fellow academics puzzled.

The average 2004 salary of a humanities professor in Ontario was $93,125, with a full professor earning $110,239. Neuman earned $347,865 plus $40,640 in taxable benefits during 2004, while serving only one month as vice-president. In 2003, she filled the role of vice-president for the full year, earning $336,353 salary and $52,273 benefits.

It is not uncommon for university administrators to go on administrative leave once their appointments are complete and prior to returning to the rank of professor. During that time they often retain the higher administrative salary until the end of the year. In Neuman’s case, she didn’t complete her term as vice-president, citing “personal reasons.” Several sources suggest she was asked to step down because of personality conflicts with staff and faculty, and student leaders from Governing Council and Students’ Administrative Council claim that she “refused to take students’ opinions seriously and would not respond to criticism” (The Strand, 2005).

According to the Athabasca University Annual report for 2003-2004, the vice-president academic earned $179,000 (including $23,000 in benefits) during 2004, and the vice-president finance earned $152,000 (including $24,000 benefits). The President earned $225,000 in 2004, including benefits.

Schmidt, Sarah (2005). Questions raised over professor’s sweet deal: University of Toronto pays $347,000 to former vice-president. Edmonton Journal, April 2, 2005, p.A9
The Strand (2005). U of T Provost resigns. Strand in Brief – The Strand News. http://www.thestrand.ca/news/2004/02/11/News/Strand.In.Brief-616673.shtml
Athabasca University Annual Report 2003-2004: http://www.athabascau.ca/report2004/report2004.pdf

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