Nova Scotia

Dalhousie's Tom Traves takes pay cut for new Ontario job

Nova Scotia's highest paid university executive is now on an Ontario school's payroll.

Traves is taking a pay cut to work as Brock University's interim president

Tom Traves served as president of Dalhousie University until 2013, but has continued to collect a salary of more than $400,000 annually since then. (Paul Withers/CBC)

Nova Scotia's highest paid university executive is now on an Ontario school's payroll. 

Tom Traves served as president of Dalhousie University for 18 years. After his retirement in 2013, he went on administrative leave, collecting more than $473,000 last year.

On Monday, he starts a new job as acting president of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., for which he'll be paid $318,500 over a one-year contract.

"He's capped at exactly what our previous president made, so no issue there," board of trustees chairman John Suk said.

Dalhousie contract done

Traves' high compensation at Dalhousie has received criticism by faculty and students for years in Halifax.

While receiving that salary, he was required to be available a maximum of two days per month. He also received use of a university vehicle and personal financial counseling, among other perks, according to his contract.

But now Traves is indeed off the school's payroll, university spokeswoman Janet Bryson said Sunday. His contract ended on June 30, 2016.

Dalhousie's board of governors also recently capped administrative leave for senior executives to two years total, Bryson said. To be eligible, staff must have tenured academic positions at the school as well.

'Quite unfair'

Dalhousie Student Union president Kathleen Reid called Traves' new appointment "fairly problematic," and part of a cycle of "incredibly bloated" salaries administrators receive.

"Any salary of that amount is quite unfair," Reid said.

"Universities' priorities are really reflected in the budgets that they put out, and a budget like this at Brock or at Dal is showing universities' commitment to making sure their administration is well paid and well taken care of."

'Strong leadership, solid experience'

Brock University hired Traves midst "some leadership challenges," Suk said. This summer, the school announced incoming president Wendy Cukier would not be taking the role as expected.

"We needed someone with great experience to handle the files in front of us," Suk said of Traves.

"We needed strong leadership, solid experience... He's built a very strong reputation for Dal."

Traves will help find a permanent replacement over the course of the next year.

He did not reply to an interview request.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.