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Contract disparity warrants answers, action

The contracts of both President Eddy Campbell and President John McLaughlin were recently released. Much has been said about Eddy’s compensation, his supposedly competitive salary and long list of benefits. However, while it’s easy to see the massive salary and endless benefits as outlandish when compared to a student’s, they deserve a context in which to be read. So, let’s start with what President McLaughlin signed on for in both 2002 and 2007.

President McLaughlin was given an annual gross salary of $180, 000 for five years in 2002. Outside of this, he was offered a residence, a vehicle and various other benefits. In 2007, when he was reappointed, his salary increased to $251,191. Reviews of his salary were made annually and funds were allocated (15 per cent of the base salary for an assistant professor) for relocating to a residence provided by the university.

Talking to those who remember the McLaughlin era, they speak of a time where the President would visit the HIL and make stops around campus. I work at the Fiddlehead and on the door is a letter from McLaughlin describing how the English journal is an integral part of the English department’s reputation in the Canadian literary community. I’ve seen no such recognition from Eddy.

Eddy, on the other hand, was offered, in Apple terms, the Contract Plus: A residence, a vehicle, and a whole slew of additional treasures to flaunt. Let’s begin with the annual research grant which is currently at $12,000 annually. For relocation costs from St. John’s, he was offered $35,000 and the university paid the fees for the sale of his Newfoundland residence. And then there’s the section that outlines his access to support staff and, in the 2014 contract, a section describing the opportunity to have the university fund a post-doctoral fellow to assist in his research.

Oh yeah, Eddy gets paid membership to the Fredericton Golf and Curling Club, too. Now, I grew up in a trailer park across the street from the Club. I know the importance of such a vital bourgeois institution. While my family struggled to pay the $250 monthly lot rent, we were proud to stare across the road where annual membership could have paid for six months lot rent. 

As one should, I’ve saved the best for last. Eddy’s salary started at $320,000 and increased to $376,471 in 2014. Additionally, the 2014 contract also included annual reviews alongside a two per cent annual increase. By 2019, Eddy can literally pay my student loan off 40 times. Think back to last year’s labour dispute for a moment. The core of the salary debate amongst professors was the request to be competitive; that is, raises that will allow UNB faculty hiring to be equitable to that of other universities.

One senior administrator made mention of the same criteria for hiring a university president. And, if that’s true, Eddy must have been beyond top-notch. If his salary in comparison to President McLaughlin’s says something about competitiveness, well, we got the equivalent of a Harvard President. But we didn’t. We got a president who worked under the guise of austerity to cut our faculty while ballooning his administration. UNB was given a leader who is better at excluding himself from our community than he is at being a part of it. 

So what am I saying? I am asking a vital question: why did our administration, our Board of Governors opt for the luxury president in 2009? The jump in salary and benefits from McLaughlin to Eddy is telling. It is a display of the shifting values of our university. Ever relinquishing the real substance of the university for the image of it. Take a look at our brand managers, the fact that our president has his own.

While I began this column advocating for the fact that the student body and faculty make up this university and not the president and his administration, I will also advocate for a swift exit by Eddy as well as an explanation by the Board of Governors for this excessive contract.

It is my opinion that Campbell has negatively impacted our university’s community, and to do it, we paid him nearly twice as much as our past president. What did we pay for? A strike? A multitude of faculty association motions against our president? A disconnected and isolated leader?

Eddy’s own resignation would not only begin a recovery of our university, but cause our Board of Governors to question their own decision-making. Resigning won’t immediately solve UNB’s troubles, but it will provoke that much-needed cultural shift at UNB. If Eddy is curious on how to resign, it’s in the contract.

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