Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

Letter to the Editors, Volume 53 Issue 10: Re: Bonnie Patterson

Written by
Letter to the Editor
and
and
March 8, 2019
Letter to the Editors, Volume 53 Issue 10: Re: Bonnie Patterson
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

Mx. Taylor,

To say nothing of the fact you call yourself a journalist, it's clear that you didn't check a single counter-balancing source (including Trent's pension policies) before publishing your article about retired President and Prof. Bonnie Patterson.

Here's some facts for you:

1) Pensions are transferable, meaning that Bonnie's "salary" comes in part from Pension payments that she contributed towards her entire career, not just at Trent. I believe the general approximation is that Prof. Patterson will receive 60% of the average of her best 5 years of salary for the duration of her pension, provided she's "maxed out" on her pension contributions. This is a common pension policy that's been negotiated by numerous Labour Unions across the public sector, including OPSEU.

After spending her entire career in the sector, Bonnie surely paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of her own money into her pension fund and it's well earned. Quick searches reveal her tenure includes both Western University and Ryerson University in senior roles. This would lead me to conclude that she did indeed max out her pension.

It should also be noted it is possible to be drawing on one's pension while also still working full-time or part-time. As a professor at Trent, it is perhaps possible that this is why Bonnie's name appears on the Sunshine List as given her status as an employee, the University would be required to disclose her full salary as it appears on her T4 from the University - which would include pension payments, I believe. For more information, please visit the Salary Disclosure Requirements for the definitions of a salary required to be disclosed as defined by the status of an individual as an organization's "employee."

I might be wrong on all of these facts, but a quick Google search reveals that Denise Fernandes is Trent University's pension plan coordinator. Worth an email to her for comment next time, perhaps (which is commonplace journalistic practice).

2) For a number of years, Prof. Patterson's pay was administered through Trent, though she was seconded to the Council of Ontario Universities, where she was appointed President by the Liberal Government after her tenure at Trent (surely, a shill for Mike Harris though). Thus, for several years the article raises questions about, the Ontario Government was paying her salary through Trent.

It literally says "Seconded to COU" on the Sunshine List website. Again, maybe worth reaching out for comment next time.

3) In my last response to you (this is fun, isn't it?), I stated that University salaries are governed by Public Sector salary rules, and are thus not "exorbitant" or "immoral" as you propose. They're evaluated based on decades of best practices in ensuring appropriate, qualified, and effective leaders are recruited to senior postings across the public sector.

Yes, sometimes employees are not effective (who can control one person's performance but that one person themselves... and we can agree to disagree about Bonnie) - but the fact that somebody could spend their entire career working in the public sector making as little as 10% as much as their colleagues in the private sector, while at the same time often working longer hours while being beholden to ill-informed criticism is rather noble, don't you think?

A Concerned Trent Alum

This is the second time the same, anonymous, Concerned Alumnus, has written a response to an article of mine, calling into question my journalistic integrity (see: "a Liberal University"). Both times, I have been simultaneously bewildered and disappointed in Concerned Alumnus’ inability, or perhaps, unwillingness to grasp the crux of my argument.

I explained, in detail, the steps I took to get answers from the administration re: Ms. Patterson’s salary. I reached out to the Director of the School of Business, who redirected me to Dr. Jacqueline Muldoon, who then told me that “the individual who would have those details is currently away from the University on university business but will return next week.”

The name of the person with the information, as well as their position at the university, was not disclosed.

Unfortunately, my deadline would come before I would get a response from the administration, and I proceeded with the details that I had, explicitly noting that I was still waiting on information from the administration.

Approximately one week later, I received an email from the Trent’s “Marketing & Communications” department that explained that “Patterson was seconded to the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). She was reported on the Trent list because she was a professor in Trent’s Business Administration program and on a leave of absence to the COU.”

In light of this information, I looked into the policies and constitutions of the COU, which states that representatives from universities, like Bonnie Patterson must be “committed to public accountability and functions in an open and transparent manner”. The constitution was unclear as to who actually pays the salary of the representatives who sit on the council, so I spoke with David Chen, the Senior Accountant for the COU, who clarified that representatives from universities, such as Bonnie Patterson, are paid by the universities they represent, and are actually considered to be volunteers in this role.

COU Senior Media Relations Officer, Simon Beck, later confirmed this writing, “the academic members of our Council or other committees are not compensated by us. It’s part of their service to their institutions and the COU.”

Not only does this prove Concerned Alumnus was misinformed, it also calls into question the rationale the university provided me with for Patterson’s salary.

I would also like to note that the University’s explanation did not include any information regarding Ms. Patterson’s pension. If our Concerned Alumnus, had bothered taking part in this “fact-checking” they are so keen to promote, they would actually find that pension contributions are part of the non-taxable portions of compensation and as such, are not included on the Sunshine List.

Finally, Concerned Alumnus’ third argument points to a fundamental ideological difference that seems to be impairing our ability to discuss these issues. It would seem as though Concerned Alumnus believes that “Public Sector salary rules” are unchangeable and immune to moral judgement, a perspective I would like to challenge.

The main point of my article was that when Bonnie Patterson was President, she practiced corruption, and was rewarded for it. She repeatedly lied to faculty and students. She jeopardized the future of FPHL. She went against the wishes of the Senate and sold off a college that was known for being a refuge for queer students and artists. She called the riot police on students practicing peaceful protest. Her reward? She was given a cushy job with the COU and repeatedly received more money than any employee at the university.

It is infuriating to see part-time and sessional faculty work tirelessly, constantly going above and beyond the details of their job descriptions just to prove their worth to a corporation that refuses to value them. It is infuriating that people who make endless contributions to making Trent so much more than a university, have to work multiple jobs just to make a fraction of what Bonnie Patterson made. Even if Concerned Alumnus’ number crunching had been merited and correct, it would still not have justified the rampant and immoral wealth inequality that is pervasive throughout this institution.

Nick Taylor

Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish
Written By
Sponsored
Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf