While students at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) are struggling during the middle of a global pandemic, it is business as usual for the administration. According to a newly obtained access-to-information request, the position of Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at MUN has increased from a lavish salary of $274,500 when Dr. Noreen Golfman held the position to an even more lavish salary of $320,000 with the new appointment of Dr. Florentine Strzelczyk. The issue of administrative bloat and entitlement has gotten even worse.
The costs for the search for the new Provost come to a total of $60,990.89 with most of it spent on “professional fees” for a headhunting firm.
Dr. Strzelczyk’s contract can be renewed for an additional five years and she will receive a research grant of $20,000.
She will also be given approximately $8,500 to participate in the Queen’s University Executive Leadership Program.
Dr. Strzelczyk and her spouse will be reimbursed for relocation expenses including all moving, real estate commission, or legal fees associated with the sale of their home in Alberta and the fees and disbursements accompanying the acquisition of a family home in this province.
This is the continuation of a trend among senior administrators at MUN. The base salary for the position of president increased by around $20,000 from around $460,000 when Gary Kachanoski held the position to $484,000 when Vianne Timmons was appointed. It is also important to note that according to another access-to-information request that Dr. Timmons’s moving expenses amount to $36,825.
Students have asked the administration to decrease the cost of tuition while the university is primarily offering remote and online classes but the administration has rejected any such notion. This is despite 3,184 students signing a petition asking for a partial tuition refund last year.
Another petition calling on the administration to eliminate newly implemented service fees received 3,255 signatures but was again rejected by the university’s administration.
In May of 2020, MUN President, Vianne Timmons, stated that there is room to move regarding tuition and that there need to be more streams of revenue. Timmons said that she is open to the possibility of tuition increases. This is disingenuous at a time of uncertainty during a pandemic. Instead of leading a team of senior administrators that lead by example by decreasing their salaries during times such as these, the focus is instead on how to keep their pockets lined with cash.
The students, university community, and the people of the province deserve better.
Matt Barter is a third-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.