Three U of A professors made more than $500,000 last year

The University of Alberta had three professors making a base salary of more than $500,000 in 2015, according to the salary disclosure list released Thursday.

Sunshine list of highest earners for 2015 reveals salaries for government, agencies and universities

University of Alberta professors Randall Morck (left), Verna Yiu and Carlo Montamango all made more than $500,000 in salary last year. Yiu was seconded to Alberta Health Services last year to serve as vice-president. She became the president and CEO of the health authority this year. (University of Alberta/Alberta Health Services )

The University of Alberta had three professors making a base salary of more than $500,000 in 2015, according to the salary disclosure list released Thursday. 

Dr Verna Yiu, a professor and former interim dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, was the top earner with a base salary of $568,321. Yiu was seconded as a vice-president for AHS last year. Her salary was revealed earlier this week as part of the Alberta Health Services disclosure. 

Randall Morck, a professor in the school of business, earned $542,706, making him the third-highest earner at the university.

Carlo Montemagno, a professor in the department of chemical and material engineering, came fourth, with a salary of $538,345. 

Former U of A president Indira Samarasekera earned a salary of $546,237 in 2015, placing her second.

Lorne Babiuk, the vice-president of research, was paid $536,995 in 2015. 

Other high earners include Carl Amhrein, a professor and former provost, who is now the deputy minister of health for the Alberta government. Amhrein's salary at the U of A was $498,552 last year.

Xin-Min Li, a professor and chair of the department of psychiatry, earned $478,062. Phyllis Clark, the vice-president of finance and administration, had a base salary of $469,386. 

About 10.5 per cent of all U of A employees are on the disclosure list because they make more than the $125,000 threshold. 

Global marketplace

University provost Stephen Dew said the wide variance in academic salaries is due to where people work, their responsibilities, experience and market factors. They may receive additional stipends if they take on administrative roles or become a research chair.

Dew said the U of A is competing with other universities around the world. 

"We work in a global marketplace," he said. "Our people routinely come from and are recruited away to top schools globally, and so we need to be very cognisant of that market and respond to it."

Dew said salaries are benchmarked against other top Canadian research universities like the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill and Université de Montré​al.

Salary disclosures in Ontario and British Columbia have created problems with academic compensation, Dew said.

"Once our employees know what all of their colleagues are making, some will feel that perhaps they could paid more, so that's the source of upward pressure," he said. 

The U of A disclosure comes on the same day the government of Alberta released its annual list of salaries for government employees making more than $104,754 in the 2015 calendar year.

Janet Davidson, the former deputy minister of health, was the highest paid Alberta government employee in 2015.