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McGill releases principal’s contract for first time

On Sept. 25, McGill’s Board of Governors released Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier’s contract. The release marks the first time the Board of Governors has voluntarily made the contract of a McGill principal public.

According to the contract, Fortier’s base salary is $390,000. In addition, the university will cover the cost of $3,000 for legal counsel regarding her contract, and a yearly sum of $2,000 for professional financial services.

Fortier’s contract also contains a 20 per cent potential bonus based on the merit of her annual performance, which is “subject to a review by the Chair in accordance with a set of mutually agreed upon goals, objectives, and targets,” according to the contract.

Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors Stuart Cobbett said that although Fortier’s base salary is higher than that of former principal Heather Munroe-Blum­—who was the highest-paid principal in the province, with a base salary of $369,250—Fortier’s contract results in a substantially lower paycheque due to fewer benefits.

For example, Munroe-Blum’s contract stipulated a $4,000 per month allowance towards the use of her Montreal residence for university-related events, while Fortier will not receive an allowance, although she will be reimbursed for “reasonable expenses.”

“When we negotiated the contract with Fortier, we took into account the salary of Heather Munroe-Blum,” Cobbett said. “If you look at the cost of Fortier’s contract, it is more than three per cent less [than Munroe-Blum’s] in terms of total costs to the university.”

The three per cent reduction is the result of measures implemented by McGill for this academic year in order to meet budget cuts the Quebec government announced last December. Members of the upper administration have all received a three per cent decrease to their salaries.

McGill will cover Fortier’s expenses related to her role as principal, including university-related travel and event hosting, and a relocation allowance to cover the cost of moving to Montreal.

Cobbett said that Fortier’s contract was met by positive attention from the McGill community and media when it was released on Wednesday.

“[The contract was] well received. People much appreciate Fortier’s transparency and the simplicity of the contract,” he said.

The contract extends from Sept. 5, 2013 until June 30, 2018, with the opportunity for re-appointment.

Katie Larson, president of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), said she thought Fortier’s salary was “reasonable” considering the standard salary for such a position. Larson said she supports Fortier’s decision to publish the contract.

“When it comes to Human Resources it is up to the individual to disclose information such as their contract, so I am glad that professor Fortier took the extra step not only to publish her salary, but also to disclose the other parts of her contract,” Larson said. “We will see how forthcoming she will be with the exact expenses, and whether her decision to publish this information will encourage other administrators to do the same.”

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