TRU tries to work around restrictions when finding a president

Furniture, moving costs, mortgage interest among ways to help entice good candidates

Even though Thompson Rivers University has more students, its president is paid less than his counterpart at the University of Northern B.C.

That's because TRU is considered by the province to be a teaching university, while UNBC joins the ranks of UBC, SFU and University of Victoria as research universities.

The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education allows research universities to offer a higher salary cap to their presidents. The caps were set in 2007.

So when TRU was shopping for a new president to replace Kathleen Scherf, the amount it could offer was limited to around $200,000 a year.

Her predecessor, Roger Barnsley, earned $229,543 in 2007-08, with an additional $20,313 in pension and $8,545 in other benefits, for a total of $258,401.

Her successor, Alan Shaver, is also paid what Scherf got, because of that provincial cap.

To make the presidency more enticing to Scherf and Shaver, TRU took out five-year mortgages - which had to be paid back, but at a reduced interest rate.

TRU also paid $37,261 for furniture for Shaver's house, but it's all used for entertaining purposes and includes chairs, sofas, rugs and decorating items, said board chair Fiona Chan.

"The furniture belongs to TRU. So if Allan leaves, I guess we'll take the furniture back," she said Tuesday.

Because Shaver uses his home to entertain people as part of his job, it made sense to provide furniture for those purposes, she explained.

"It's furniture for when you have guests. . . . It's just like furniture in the university. Instead of sitting in the university, it's sitting where he lives," she said.

He bought furniture from four stores: Treehouse Interiors in Kelowna, Once Upon A Tree Furniture in Vancouver, Black and White DÉcor in Kamloops and Kara Coupland Interior Design in Kamloops.

The most expensive items were a condo sofa ($4,506) and sultan's round extension table with leaves ($4,190).

The list also included grass cloth wallpaper and painting at $2,475; three antique ethnic area rugs ($2,430); three armless chairs ($2,346); an entertainment cabinet ($2,221); and sunscreen roller shades with installation ($2,185).

"We don't pay him very much compared with the marketplace. We were lucky to attract him because there were people who would not consider coming because of what we pay."

Chan said TRU has tried to get the province to recategorize it as a research university, but hasn't had any success.

"When TRU was first a university, it was considered teaching university because we don't do as much research. Alan put us on the map with RUCBC (Research Universities' Council of B.C.)," she said.

"We would like to fight for Alan, but we are stuck. . . . There is not balance as far as paying university presidents. We are really lucky to have Alan and keep him here. I support him as much as I can in his work."

TRU is categorized as a teaching university with University of the Fraser Valley, Capilano University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Emily Carr University, University of Vancouver Island and Royal Roads University.

However, TRU and Royal Roads are recent members of the Research Universities' Council of B.C. along with UBC, SFU, UNBC and UVic.

TRU has more than 13,000 students on campus, plus 10,000 enrolled in Open Learning and satellite campuses at Williams Lake and an Open Learning Centre in Vancouver.

UNBC had 4,266 students enrolled in its 2010-2011 academic year.

University of the Fraser Valley has about 16,000 students and has campuses in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope and Agassiz.

TRU also pitches in on moving costs for its presidents and allows the president's partner to go along on official university business trips - two international and one domestic per year.

What is a university president worth?

In B.C., it depends how they are categorized.

Some examples are as follows from the 2010-11 fiscal year (figures include base salary, pension and benefits):

* University of B.C., president Stephen Toope, $528,504

* University of Victoria, president David Turpin, $430,908

* University of Northern B.C., president and vice-chancellor George Iwama, $290,283

* Royal Roads University, president and vice-chancellor, A. Cahoon, $258,921

* BCIT president Donald Wright, $257,606

* Kwantlen Polytechnic University, president David Atkinson, $221,354

* Northern Lights College, president D. Jean Valgardson, $219,048

* Emily Carr University, chief executive officer, president and vice-chancellor, Ronald Burnett, $211,653

* Vancouver Island University, president and vice-chancellor, Ralph Nilson $204,319

* Okanagan College, president James Hamilton, $188,332

* Justice Institute of B.C., president John McGee, $181,389

* Camosun College, president Kathryn Laurin, $178,513

* Langara College president and chief executive officer David Ross, $176,605

* Vancouver Community College, president Kathy Kinloch, $176,073

At TRU, presidential pay has been:

* 2010-11 president and vice-chancellor Alan Shaver, $136,260 with pension and other benefits (salary for part of year - started position Sept. 1, 2010 to end of March 31, 2011)

* Part of 2009-10 and part of 2010/11 interim president and vice-chancellor Roger Barnsley, $240,662

* 2008-09 president and vice-chancellor Kathleen Scherf, $192,332

* 2007-08 president and vice-chancellor Roger Barnsley, $258,401

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