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Laurentian’s new interim pres to be paid nearly $340K per year

Under a secondment agreement, Sheila Embleton to be paid her $316K salary from York U., plus another $24K for taking on Laurentian role
Laurentian University’s interim provost Dr. Brenda Brouwer (left) and interim president Dr. Sheila Embleton.

Under the terms of a secondment agreement with their home universities, both Laurentian University’s incoming interim president and provost will be paid substantially more than their most recent predecessors.

Laurentian announced last week that Dr. Sheila Embleton will be starting as Laurentian’s interim president Jan. 1, 2023. Dr. Brenda Brouwer will be starting as Laurentian’s interim provost on the same date.

This after Laurentian finally exited creditor protection Nov. 28 after 22 months of insolvency restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

Both the interim president and provost are being seconded from large Ontario universities — Embleton from York University and Brouwer from Queen’s University — until permanent appointments can be made for the top Laurentian jobs.

The employment contracts for Embleton and Brouwer have been posted publicly on Laurentian’s website.

According to the secondment agreement for Embleton, she will continue to be paid by York University at her base salary of $315,984.72, less statutory deductions.

In addition, Laurentian University will pay Embleton an annual salary top-up of $24,015.28, less statutory deductions, in recognition of her taking on the role of interim president at Laurentian.

This adds up to nearly $340,000 per year.

The secondment agreement said that during Embleton’s time at Laurentian, “York University shall invoice Laurentian quarterly for 100 per cent of the full quarterly cost of the Compensation Arrangements applicable to Dr. Embleton.”

Brouwer’s secondment agreement said she will continue to be paid by Queen’s University at her current base salary of $306,942, less statutory deductions.

In addition, Queen’s will pay Brouwer an annual salary top-up of $27,851 less statutory deductions, “in recognition of her taking on the role of interim provost and/or executive lead at Laurentian.”

Queen’s will also be invoicing Laurentian for Brouwer’s compensation.

This means Brouwer will be paid nearly $335,000 per year.

According to information available through the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, former Laurentian president Robert Haché, who was terminated by LU earlier this fall, earned $271,750.96, plus $15,463.20 in taxable benefits in 2021.

Former Laurentian provost Marie-Josée Berger, who was also terminated by LU earlier this fall, earned $216,015.31, plus $224.40 in taxable benefits in 2021.

Embleton told last week that she will not be living in the John Street home normally assigned to LU presidents during her time in Sudbury, as she’s been told it is unavailable. 

The secondment agreement instead says that “Laurentian shall reimburse Dr. Embleton annually for housing expenses that shall not exceed $34,000. This will be paid on a monthly basis and prorated for any part of a month.”

Brouwer is also being provided with a similar amount for housing. “Laurentian shall reimburse Dr. Brouwer directly for actual housing expenses that shall not exceed a total amount of $33,479 per annum,” said the secondment agreement.

The secondment agreements also reveal information about how long Embleton and Brouwer are expected to remain in their interim roles with Laurentian. 

Embleton’s agreement said she will be seconded effective Jan. 1, 2023, “and until the commencement of a new President, unless earlier terminated in accordance with this agreement.

“It is estimated that this appointment shall be for period of 15 months but in any event shall not extend beyond November 30, 2024,” said the agreement.

Brouwer’s secondment agreement also said her appointment will be for an estimated period of 15 months, although there could be an extension “if Laurentian has not hired its new provost by the end of the initial 15-month period.”

The contract also said Brouwer can stay on with Laurentian “for a further period of up to three months, with Dr. Brouwer appointed as executive lead to oversee the completion of CCAA transition projects assigned by the board and to assist with the transition of her duties as interim provost to Laurentian’s new provost.”

Board chair says LU had appeal to province for exemption to salary rules recently spoke with Laurentian board chair Jeff Bangs, who provided some context on the hiring of Embleton and Brouwer, as well as their secondment contracts.

Bangs said a search committee to find interim replacements for Haché and Berger was struck back in March, and there were candidates from the business world, the broader public sector and from academia.

“And in the summer, when we got down to a short list of candidates, the board decided that the proper thing to do was to have people with university experience, so that steered us toward these two senior administrators from other universities,” he said.

Several board members said it would be “offensive” if someone who didn’t have an academic background were running Laurentian, Bangs said.

However, after finding “two excellent candidates from the university sector,” Laurentian’s board was left with a “dilemma.” 

That’s because both were making more at their home universities than Laurentian’s most recent president and provost, and LU couldn’t ask them to take a pay cut to come here.

Bangs explains that a dozen years ago, the province put a freeze on the salaries of senior executives in universities. This means that in some cases, people who aren’t in this designated senior tier are making more than presidents and vice-presidents.

Because of the limits on salaries for senior university administrators, Laurentian appealed to the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities for a rare exemption, which was granted. 

“It's clear in our agreements with the province, these exemptions only apply to this assignment for the interim president and interim provost,” Bangs said. “It is not applicable to any other hiring we'll do in the future.”

In terms of the fact that the interim president and provost will be receiving so much more for their services than their predecessors, Bangs said the roles being undertaken by Embleton and Brouwer are different than those of regular senior administrators.

“Because of the special circumstances, we're asking these two people to come in and do the role of president and provost, plus a whole lot of CCAA implementation,” he said, adding that it’s important to hire strong leaders to reduce the usage of outside consultants.

Bangs said that in some ways, the secondment agreement is a “very good deal for Laurentian,” because the interim president and vice-president are not being taken on as full LU employees. 

“They will stay on the pension plan and benefits plans of their home institutions,” he said. “It makes it easier for us to bring them in, and in the year or 18 months or whatever it ends up being, it makes it easier for them to transition back.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.


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