More hefty pay rises for Aus­tralian vice-chan­cel­lors

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - John.ross@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

An Aus­tralian univer­sity ap­pears to have paid a premium for guid­ance out of years of up­heaval, with its new vice-chan­cel­lor earn­ing al­most a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars more than her pre­de­ces­sors.

The re­mu­ner­a­tion of Mur­doch Univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lor Eeva Leinonen was re­vealed in the newly pub­lished an­nual re­ports of in­sti­tu­tions in Western Aus­tralia. De­tails have also emerged of hefty pay rises en­joyed by the heads of the eight pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties in Vic­to­ria, where the av­er­age size of a univer­sity leader’s an­nual emol­u­ments is ap­proach­ing A$ 1 mil­lion (£550,000).

The 2017 re­port of Perth-based Mur­doch said that Pro­fes­sor Leinonen re­ceived be­tween A$750,000 and A$760,000 in her first full year at the univer­sity, some 44 per cent more than in­terim head Andrew Tag­gart’s re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age of about A$525,000.

When Pro­fes­sor Leinonen joined Mur­doch from the Univer­sity of Wol­lon­gong in April 2016, she be­came its fifth leader in as many years. Pre­vi­ous per­ma­nent head Richard Hig­gott had re­signed in 2014 af­ter al­le­ga­tions of im­proper be­hav­iour – in­clud­ing nepo­tism, de­struc­tion of of­fi­cial doc­u­ments, credit card anom­alies and bul­ly­ing – were re­ferred to Western Aus­tralia’s cor­rup­tion watch­dog.

An in­quiry con­cluded that he had en­gaged in se­ri­ous mis­con­duct by schem­ing to have a friend ap­pointed as deputy vice-chan­cel­lor and by ac­cess­ing pornog­ra­phy on a work com­puter. The scan­dal ex­ac­er­bated a morale cri­sis at the univer­sity, which was al­ready reel­ing from fre­quent re­struc­tures since the tu­mul­tuous leadership of long-serv­ing head John Yovich and the de­par­ture of three deputy vice-chan­cel­lors.

The changes also ob­scured the top job’s re­mu­ner­a­tion, with the amounts some­times cropped because vice-chan­cel­lors were not in of­fice for full years and some­times in­flated by one-off entitlement pay­ments.

Mur­doch chan­cel­lor David Flana­gan said that Pro­fes­sor Leinonen’s salary had not changed since her ar­rival. “Mur­doch has a for­mal process for set­ting and re­view­ing the vice-chan­cel­lor’s salary, which in­cludes sec­tor bench­mark­ing,” he said.

“Since her ap­point­ment, vicechan­cel­lor Leinonen has pro­vided out­stand­ing leadership and a strong re­solve to guide Mur­doch to a sus­tain­able fu­ture.”

Pro­fes­sor Leinonen also presided over the es­ca­la­tion of a bit­ter dis­pute with staff when the univer­sity moved to have its in­dus­trial agree­ment ter­mi­nated last Septem­ber, be­fore back­ing away from that approach in March.

Jean­nie Rea, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union, ac­cused univer­sity coun­cils of an “ex­ces­sive re­liance” on the no­tion that “some­how if you pay a CEO more, they’ll be able to solve prob­lems”.

“There’s a story in the cor­po­rate sec­tor that you need to pay a lot of money to at­tract the best peo­ple,” she said. “It’s not clear that they are at­tract­ing the best peo­ple by just of­fer­ing them more money.”

Vic­to­ria’s an­nual re­ports re­veal that the av­er­age vice-chan­cel­lor’s

re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age in the state rose by 4 per cent last year to about A$968,000. The best-paid leader was Glyn Davis at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne, with a to­tal pack­age of about A$1.3 mil­lion, up from the A$1.15 mil­lion re­ported in 2016.

Pro­fes­sor Davis said that he had no in­volve­ment in set­ting his salary, but said that it had not risen sig­nif­i­cantly since 2016. The univer­sity ex­plained that the re­ported fig­ure in­cluded “a sig­nif­i­cant at­tri­bu­tion re­gard­ing oc­cu­pa­tion of [a] res­i­dence, which is also used for of­fi­cial func­tions”.

The re­ported re­mu­ner­a­tion of Swin­burne Univer­sity’s Linda Krist­jan­son in­creased by 4 per cent to about A$955,000, while La Trobe Univer­sity’s John Dewar pock­eted an 8 per cent rise to A$915,000. RMIT Univer­sity’s Martin Bean recorded a 10 per cent hike to A$1.065 mil­lion.

An RMIT spokes­woman said that the 2017 fig­ure in­cluded amounts that had not been in­cluded in 2016, in­clud­ing su­per­an­nu­a­tion and ac­crual of long-ser­vice leave.

The re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age of Monash Univer­sity’s Mar­garet Gard­ner fell by 6 per cent to just un­der A$1 mil­lion. The univer­sity said that this was because her per­for­mance-re­lated com­po­nent was now be­ing dis­bursed the fol­low­ing year af­ter a change in the pay cy­cle.

Vic­to­ria Univer­sity’s Peter Dawkins ex­pe­ri­enced a to­tal pay cut of 3 per cent to about A$775,000.

Su­per­size me Mur­doch Univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lor Eeva Leinonen is be­ing paid 44 per cent more than her pre­de­ces­sor

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