Ryan Bigge—Toronto’s least ironically named freelancer and, according to the first issue of Spacing, a former “magaging editor” of Adbusters—last year estimated that Richard Florida pulled in $170 000 a year from U of T. When the 2008 Public Sector Salary Disclosure (Sunshine) list was released, Bigge took the figure of $169,999.98 to mean that his guess was only two cents off. What Bigge failed to take into account, however, was that the 2008 list was actually the disclosure of salaries for 2007, and only included money paid out for that period. In other words, because Florida was only hired away from George Mason University in July ’07, the money on the list covered just the half-year he was at U of T.
On Tuesday, the 2009 list (of disclosures for 2008) came out, and Florida is indeed pulling in about that much per semester. This includes his job heading up the Martin Prosperity Institute, which also has a name that is much less ironic than it sounds. Florida is thus the university’s seventh highest-paid professor and its eleventh highest-paid staffer overall.
The compensation was of course set before the current meltdown, which is seeing U of T’s endowment suddenly shrink by nearly a third—the direct result, according to the Globe, of the university having made extremely risky, “U.S.-style” investments for short-term gain without regard to the long-term risks. This shitty strategy cost U of T $1.3 billion on its investments last year, hence the plan to make up the losses via the de facto 25–70% tuition hike, something you’d have no trouble bearing if your mom or dad pulled in the $494,598.04 of U of T’s highest-paid employee—John Lyon, the Managing Director of Investment Strategy.
One Star article quotes Angela Hildyard, the school’s $287,403.52-a-year “Vice-President Human, Resources & Equity” (as opposed, evidently, to those administrators who are not vice presidents of humans) as committing that “salaries will be frozen for senior academics and administrative leaders this year.” A different article in the same Star, however, only says that there will be a “Voluntary freeze for all administrators from dean level and up.”
Indeed, the university’s Towards 2030 plan calculates that a scenario with “A one per cent reduction in salary increases saves $8.5 mm [sic] per year”—which would in theory cover 85% of the shortfall intended to be bridged by the flat fee. The report says that even more money could be saved by adjusting starting salaries but warns against meddling with these; starting salaries are “driven by market forces and the international competition for leading faculty, so there will be continued upward pressure on salary and benefits costs if we are to compete for talent….it is likely that our best people would move to other universities for higher salaries.” And here we thought that people chose Toronto because of how bohemian we are.