Former Concordia President Judith Woodsworth received $747,045 in severance and taxable benefits in the 11-month fiscal year that ended April 30, 2011, as well as a portion of her annual base salary of $351,750 for her time in office from June to December 2010, according to the university’s audited financial statements.
The statements were released in the days prior to last week’s Board of Governors meeting, and reveal the salary and benefits of 28 senior university administrators, including several who left before completing their terms.
Woodsworth was ousted by the BoG on Dec. 22 of last year. Soon after her departure it was reported that she would receive $703,500 under the terms of her contract, equivalent to two years’ worth of her annual base salary.
According university spokesperson Chris Mota, the total amount of taxable benefits Â Woodsworth received between June 1, 2010 and Dec. 22 also included a “housing allowance of $3,000 per month, car allowance of $1,200 per month, the employer’s cost of health insurance and similar items.”
The former president also received $169,573 in indemnity rights. VP institutional relations Bram Freedman, chief financial officer Patrick Kelley, university controller Daniel Therrien and VP services Roger CÃ´tÃ© met with student media on Monday to discuss the statements.
According to Freedman, some academic administrators are entitled to a six-month administrative leave after they finish their terms where they continue to receive their administrator’s salary. The leave is meant to allow the administrator to re-acclimatize themselves to the academic world before re-entering it, Freedman said. An administrator can exercise their indemnity rights if they do not use the leave.
Freedman specified that type of arrangement is not unique to Concordia.
Woodsworth was also reimbursed for $18,230 worth of expenses for university business-related activities.
Kathy Assayag, former VP advancement and alumni relations, was paid a base salary of $283,785 plus taxable benefits of $113,298, the second highest amount of taxable benefits after Woodsworth. Assayag stepped down on Sept. 21, 2010 for personal reasons.
Former dean of the John Molson School of Business Sanjay Sharma, who left for a position at the University of Vermont at the end of the winter semester, was given a salary of $246,174 in addition to $62,504 of taxable benefits. He was also reimbursed for $27,714 worth of business-related expenses, the highest of the 28 administrators listed in the financial statements.
Responding to a question about interim president Frederick Lowy’s expense report, which The Concordian reported included $9,000 in airfare, $4,000 for car expenses and $3,000 for hotel rooms in the past year, Freedman said, “The intimation of that question is that is a lot of money so yes, it is a lot of money but I should add that one of the main roles of the president of the university, especially a large university like ours, is to travel on behalf of the university and promote the university.”
Asked whether such expenses could be viewed as university waste, Freedman responded, “We don’t feel that any of these expenses are wasted, or that the university is hemorrhaging money. Obviously, we feel that these are all justified expenses.
“I think we all take very seriously the notion that we work for a public institution that is supported by taxpayers’ dollars, that is supported by students’ tuition fees, and I think we make particular efforts to be responsible and conservative. I understand it may not appear that way, looking at some of these numbers, [but] we are huge institution. […] I think it is important to look at it in the context of a $350 million a year operating budget and 7,000 employee operation with, as you know, 45,000 students.”