The board of trustees of Brescia University College is defending the 2013 double payment to Principal Colleen Hanycz for not taking an administrative leave — the same payment that Western University President Amit Chakma returned last week following public backlash.

As was first reported by The Gazette on Thursday, Hanycz received $444,386 in 2013, which is nearly double her usual salary.

In an email sent to students on Monday afternoon, the chair of the board of trustees, Liz Hewitt, confirmed this payment was for untaken administrative leave. She said it was necessary for Hanycz to continue as principal and losing her for a year would have set back the university.

"It was the board’s view that losing Dr. Hanycz for a year, which would have necessitated appointing an interim principal, would have led to a critical loss of momentum and continuity for the University. The board also considered the fact that there would have been an additional cost to the University in terms of the compensation and recruitment of an interim principal."

Both Hanycz and Chakma made double their annual earnings in years their contracts were renewed and both of their salaries go back down to normal levels the following year.

Hewitt added it was "critical" for Hanycz to stay on due to a new academic dean starting in 2013 and the start of a review of Brescia's academic and operations programming.

In 2009, her first year as principal, Hanycz made $213,553. This rose to $222,600.04 in base salary the next year and remained frozen for the next two years.

In 2013, five years after she was appointed principal, Hanycz received almost exactly double this amount, $444,386. Hanycz was reappointed on July 1, 2013 by Brescia's council of trustees, which is now named the board of trustees.

This year's Sunshine List shows Hanycz earning $265,000.

"The importance of continuity and the momentum that Brescia was experiencing were two of the most important factors that led to the decision of the board to pay out Dr. Hanycz’s administrative leave and have her commence her second term immediately on July 1, 2013," Hewitt said. "Under her continued leadership, Brescia has continued to grow and thrive, and has positioned itself well for the future."

The board of trustees of Brescia is using a similar defence that Western's board of governors used when they initially defended Chakma's double payout. The Western board ultimately gave in to public pressure and instigated a review of presidential compensation at Western. Chakma also said he would be returning his double payout and furthermore, would not take the option to receive the same payout in 2019 at the end of his second term.

London West MPP Peggy Sattler has introduced a private member's bill to the provincial legislature to prohibit deals similar to what Chakma and Hanycz received in the future.

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