Everything in Santa Ono's contract, explained

First of all, here are the contracts of the last two UBC presidents: Gupta, Ono.

Santa Ono is taking the reigns at a rather tumultuous time for the university — the reason for much of that tumult being none other than the previous president, Arvind Gupta. Well, not exactly him so much as the circumstances surrounding him — UBC's Board of Governors, faculty and even students became embroiled in #GuptaGate after Gupta's sudden, unexplained departure.

This piece aims to explain everything contained in Ono's contract, using Gupta's as comparison when necessary — unless otherwise noted, the details of the Ono contract are the same as Gupta's. 

Here's a mini video explainer if you just want the basics:

Part 1: The position

The first interesting point comes in the wording. Right from the get-go, Gupta's contract is no-nonsense.

[''] Screenshot via UBC

Ono's contract, however, makes use of phrases like "spirit of cooperation," and "leader within the community."

[''] Screenshot via UBC

From here, passages are copy-pasted — the duties and powers granted to each president in section 1.3 are basically identical, outlining how the president is to go about managing faculty, creating policies, etc.

In 1.4, this clause is new for Ono:

[''] Screenshot via UBC

The president has always owed a fiduciary duty to the university — meaning they are to always act solely in UBC's best interests — but those words appear nowhere in Gupta's contract.

Each contract then talks a bit about the annual performance review that the president will undergo. Different phrasing, but with the same idea.

Interesting note: in Ono's, it says they may make the report public, after he and the Board chair (Stuart Belkin) discuss it. Regardless, it will be accessible with a Freedom of Information request. Here's the how to do that — all it takes is one email.

[''] Screenshot via UBC

Part 2: Term and termination

This section begins with some standard information regarding the five-year term for which the president will be appointed (August 2016 to August 2021) (2.1), what the university will do in case Ono becomes seriously ill (2.2) and how they'll go about firing him, if that becomes necessary (2.3). The firing section has Ono waive his right to raise a couple of legal defences, including:

  • Double Jeopardy, which forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same charges in the same case following their acquittal or conviction.
  • Res judicata, which prevents a matter that has been legally decided on from being pursued any further.
  • Issue estoppel, which is a form of res judicata.

Ono can resign his post as president with three months' written notice, and UBC can fire him at any point for no reason.

[''] Screenshot via UBC

If he is fired as president, though, he can choose whether to stay on as a professor in the Faculty of Medicine. Whether or not he elects to resign as a prof, he'll be paid severance of 12 months' pay at his presidential salary of $470,000.

If he does get fired, he'll also have to give back all property belonging to the university, including "books, documents, computers, phones, devices, records, data, notes, reports, proposals, lists, sketches, correspondence, materials, effects, money [and] securities."

Part 3: Salary

As previously reported, Ono will be paid $470,000 per year as president — $23,250 more than Gupta's $446,750, but $66,196 less than the previous UBC president, Stephen Toope's $536,196. 

At the University of Cincinnati (UC), Ono made $631,264 in 2015, plus a $200,000 bonus that he donated to various charities and student initiatives. Keep in mind, his UC salary was in USD — converted to CAD, that's $820,706.

His contract also allows for the introduction of performance-based pay, which would be tied to the completion of goals set out by the Board.

[''] Screenshot via UBC

Part 4: The house

The Norman MacKenzie House is the official residence of UBC's president, whoever that may be.

The contract specifies that the house will sometimes be used for UBC functions (4.1), but that those will be allowed only at the approval of Ono, as long as he is "acting reasonably."

[''] Screenshot via UBC

It lets him know that the house is a taxable benefit, and that he will be reimbursed for any tax liabilities resulting from the house (4.2, 4.4) and that UBC will take care of any repairs and cleaning that the house may need (4.3, 4.5).

Part 5: The car

UBC gives its presidents a car.

[''] Screenshot via UBC

Ono doesn't get to pick it, though. An "appropriate automobile" is selected by the chair of the Board. Gupta got a $37,000 hybrid, so something similar can probably be expected for Ono.

Part 6: Expenses

UBC presidents get reimbursed for any expenses they might incur while they undertake business related to being the president, including travel, once they're reviewed by the Board chair to make sure they're legitimate. Toope was reimbursed for $182,948 in 2013/14.

The university will also reimburse expenses for Ono's wife when she accompanies him on business travel — as long as her accompaniment is approved by the Board chair in advance of that travel.

[''] Screenshot via UBC

Part 7: Vacation

Ono will get six weeks' paid vacation per year. It's non-cumulative, meaning that if he were to take no vacation time in 2016/17, he wouldn't be entitled to 12 weeks' vacation in 2017/18 — just six.

Part 8: Professorship

Along with the presidency, Ono will be appointed as a professor without term — the equivalent of having tenure — in the Faculty of Medicine (8.1). He's said that his true passion lies in teaching, and he plans to do some while he's here.

He won't be paid a professor's salary in addition to his presidential one, even if he teaches (8.2). Of course, if he resigns or is fired as president and wishes to continue as a professor, he'll be paid (8.3). That might actually work out better for him financially, as the highest-paid faculty member in Medicine makes more than Ono will as president.

There's also this confusingly-worded statement:

[''] Screenshot via UBC

So, if Ono is no longer president, but is a professor, he'll be paid the same as the highest-paid faculty of Medicine professor, unless that professor earns less than half of the salary Ono earned as president, in which case he'll be paid that amount ($235,000).

Ono will be entitled to a one-year paid leave of absence as long as:

  • He completes his five-year term as president.
  • He isn't fired for cause.
  • He doesn't resign his professorship after being fired without cause.

If he's re-elected as president once his term expires in 2021, he'll be able to take his leave of absence once his new term ends. This could potentially repeat ad infinitum.

Part 9: Benefits

Here's a list of the benefits Ono will receive as president:

  • Medical services plan
  • Extended health
  • Dental
  • Employee family assistance plan
  • Income replacement plan (long-term disability)
  • Basic group life insurance
  • Optional life insurance
  • Spousal life insurance
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance
  • Faculty pension plan, including the supplemental arrangement
  • Faculty tuition waiver including dependent children
  • Tuition waiver for spouse
  • Maternity and parental leave
  • Up to six months' paid sick leave
  • Executive health assessment service
  • Additional life insurance provided by UBC in the amount of $450,000
  • Premiums for private health insurance for Ono and his family during the qualifying period for provincial health care coverage (MSP)

Part 10: Relocation

UBC will reimburse Ono for any "reasonable" costs incurred in the process of moving his family from Cincinnati to Vancouver, and in moving from the Norman Mackenzie House to another place in Vancouver once he is no longer president.

Part 11: Travel

See Part 6.

Part 12: Confidentiality and good faith

Ono and the university promise to act fairly and in good faith in their dealings, and not to tell any secrets about each other unless they are required by law to do so.

Part 13: Extending Ono's presidency

Ono has to let the Board chair know by September 15, 2020 if he wishes to continue as president (13.1). A special committee of Board members — the Select Committee — will then secretly review his performance and decide whether or not to reappoint him (13.2), then meet with Ono to discuss their findings (13.4). 

If the Select Committee decides that he should be reappointed, they will meet with the Executive Committee* to discuss terms of reappointment (13.5). When both committees are in agreement, they will bring their recommendation to the rest of the Board (13.6).

If the Select Committee decides that he should not be reappointed, they will make that recommendation to the Board, but ultimately the Board has the sole power to reappoint or dismiss Ono (13.7).

*Note: In Gupta's contract, this role is filled by the Management Resources Compensation Committee. That committee was absorbed by the Executive Committee.

Parts 14, 15 and 16: Legal stuff

This part defines some specific terms and outlines how to interpret and apply the contract. If this article does its job, then this isn't something you need to worry about.

[''] Screenshot via UBC