Canadian academics are getting attention for their campaign against high salaries paid to administrators like University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera.

Samarasekera is stepping down, so dozens of professors are applying for her job in groups of four, proposing to split the more than $400,000 salary.

Kathleen Cawsey, associate professor of english at Dalhousie University, is one of the academics who started the campaign.

“We feel that there is ample enough money in the salary to share between four people and that four fully qualified academics can contribute a lot more to the University of Alberta in various ways than one person can,” she said.

Cawsey says the campaign highlights how universities use funding cuts as a reason for not hiring more tenured professors, while paying administrators six-figure salaries.

“What we object to is disparity between them saying ‘we don’t have any money’ and then they’re spending money on other things,” she said.

Srdja Pavlovlic, an associate adjunct professor of history at the University of Alberta, is one of the academics applying for the president’s job.

While the campaign is humorous, he says the intent is serious -- to highlight how universities are increasingly influenced by corporate interests,

“The consequences of such a change, we see everyday ...knowledge gained through courses in arts, humanities and social sciences being devalued and deemed useless in the world of profit margins, benchmarks, bottom lines,” Pavlovlic said.

Pavlovlic says he’s received support from his colleagues, but mostly in private, because many fear reprisal.

The deadline for applications was Tuesday. When asked if she’s been contacted for an interview, Cawsey laughed.  

“Not yet! Still waiting.”