The university’s president and other top executives should take a modest pay cut as a gesture of good faith to the rest of the campus community, even if the money saved would be just a drop in the $44.5-million deficit bucket.
The university president and vice-presidents accepting a voluntary pay cut would help the administration regain student trust, which has been eroded by the recent financial troubles at the University of Saskatchewan. (A summary of what we’ve heard so far regarding TransformUS and the university cuts: There are no sacred cows, but please ignore the cow on the chaise lounge.)
Executive compensation packages, including both pay and benefits, are now standard in universities across North America. The idea is to run the university as if it were a business. Accordingly, administrators’ high salaries and benefits are justified as a way to keep the university “competitive” in attracting high-talent people.
If our administrators are of such high quality, why weren’t they prepared for a smaller operating grant increase from the provincial government? Why is the Emma Lake campus suddenly closing? Why do we have a giant deferred maintenance budget?
The Kenderdine campus has been closed to save $500,000 over three years and plans for the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre are on hold. Yet former president Peter MacKinnon and vice-president Richard Florizone are receiving payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars on their way out.
Why should we pay thousands of dollars in tuition each year to receive an ever-decreasing quality of education?
The largest college at the university is arts and science, which 8,700 students are enrolled in. The university has decided not to prioritize this college and, by extension, this block of students. This leads to a simple question: why should any of these students bother paying tuition here when their education is not a priority?
If students can only expect higher tuition and degraded services, what is the point of staying? Proximity is all that matters for some, but the lure of quality programming is strong as well. In the wake of these cuts, the U of S is probably not going to provide better programs any time soon.
When our programs receive repeated cuts, our class sizes increase and our choice of classes decreases; our education is suffering and will continue to do so.
The spirit of the College of Arts and Science is on the chopping block, and it appears the only value the administration sees in it is in extracting as much currency from its students as possible while minimizing the costs of delivering an education.
When students hear of upcoming cuts, there is concern — and with good reason. When the university says executive compensation is not on the table, concern can take a backseat to frustration.
The university administration needs to show the campus community that it actually has our best interests at heart. A cut in administrative pay, allowing funds to be redirected to retain jobs on campus can do that. Gaining the status of a world-class institution is not determined by administrative salaries, but by innovations and quality of education. Bring that, and the students will come.
Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf