Dalhousie releases public sector compensation report for 2014‑15

- July 31, 2015

Dalhousie is one of Nova Scotia’s largest employers, with more than 6,000 faculty and staff across its four campuses and other sites around the region. And each year, as a public sector organization in the province, Dalhousie is required to publicly report the names and salaries of all employees whose compensation exceeds $100,000.

The university’s report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015 was published yesterday (Thursday, July 30), along with reports from other private sector organizations from across Nova Scotia. The report includes the names and compensation of 941 faculty and administrative staff from across the university.

See the report: Dalhousie University Public Sector Compensation Disclosure 2015

Given the public and community interest that has typically followed the report’s release each year, we asked Ian Nason, Dalhousie’s vice-president finance and administration, to provide some additional context and background.

He explains that Dalhousie’s success depends on the university’s ability to attract and keep dedicated and talented faculty and staff.

“When you’re looking to create the best learning environments for students, and the best research environments, you need the best people,” says Nason. “And part of that is ensuring that what we offer faculty and staff in terms of compensation not only reflects their contributions to the university, but compares well with other universities.”

Given Dalhousie’s status as Atlantic Canada’s leading (and largest) research university, many candidates looking at faculty and staff positions at Dal are also exploring opportunities at schools across North America and, in some cases, around the world. Nason says that keeping salaries competitive allows Dalhousie to attract top-tier candidates.

Here is some additional background about this year’s salary report.

Who’s on the list

There are 941 individuals at Dalhousie whose compensation totaled $100,000 or more in 2014-15. Of these, 862 (91.6%) are faculty, while the remaining 79 are administrators or senior university staff.

Why the number increases

All salaries at Dal increase each year, as the university’s collective agreements and contracts are designed to take cost-of-living increases into account. This year’s increase — 117 more individuals receiving $100,000-plus — is in part related to completion of new collective agreements and the implementation of their associated salary increases, as well as the integration of faculty from the Agricultural Campus into the DFA. A similar increase to the list occurred in the 2012/13 report, also following completion of new collective agreements.

Presidential salaries

This year’s report is the first to include a full year’s compensation for President Richard Florizone; last year’s only covered 10 months, given his start date of July 1, 2013. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, Dr. Florizone received compensation totalling $390,052. As outlined in his contract [PDF], the president’s salary increases each year based on the review and recommendations of the Human Resources Committee of the Board of Governors. The salaries for the university’s vice-presidents, deans and other senior leaders are all included in the report.

As was included in last year’s report, and will also be in next year’s report, President Emeritus Tom Traves’s contract had an administrative leave provision such that upon the completion of each five-year term he would be eligible for an additional year of salary. Therefore, the 2014/15 list also includes $457,251 in compensation for Dr. Traves. This sort of provision is common in Canadian university presidential contracts and is a practice consistent with the academic sabbatical model.

Budget context

Most compensation for Dal faculty and staff comes from the university operating budget — in fact, it’s Dalhousie’s largest expense by a good margin. About 76 per cent of Dalhousie’s operating budget goes towards salaries, benefits and related compensation across the university, to a total of nearly $300 million annually. That funding is spread across the university, with more than 75 per cent of it residing in Faculties and academic areas.

Though some of the larger salaries in the compensation report lie within the university’s senior administration, Dalhousie’s overall administrative spending remains lower than most of its peers. The most recent numbers reported to the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) have Dalhousie’s administrative spending at 6.9 per cent of total expenses for 2013/14 (a slight increase from 6.7 per cent in 2012/13). Among Canada’s U15 group of leading research universities, Dalhousie’s percentage of administrative costs is the second lowest (behind only Western). Among Nova Scotian universities, where the average percentage of administration costs is 14.5 per cent, Dalhousie’s percentage is actually the lowest. (Along similar lines, Dalhousie’s presidential salary—while still competitive with those at similar-sized institutions—is among the lower of such contracts in the U15.)

For more information on the Nova Scotia Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act, visit the Government of Nova Scotia’s website.  

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