Ryerson University has created a new chief of staff position for the president’s office, hiring Michael Forbes – formerly the director of communications.
Despite other post-secondary institutions such as York University, University of Waterloo and Centennial College having chief of staff positions, this is the first time that Ryerson has such a position.
The former Ryerson executive director retired in the summer and, in addition, the role of director of communications was eliminated. In response, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi says that he decided to combine both jobs together to make a chief of staff position.
He said that combining the two would help reduce costs, in line with budget cuts.
“I thought it was important for me to bring some (restructuring) into the office,” Lachemi said. “Given the situation of the budget cuts in the university, they also wanted my office to be an example of that.”
Ryerson announced budget cuts for 2019 in response to a 10 per cent cut in tuition mandated by the provincial government. The university will lose $30 million of its operating budget. As part of this, the university has reduced the number of CUPE contract lecturers, which may in turn increase class sizes, and reduce the number of courses that are offered.
Forbes’s previous job as a group director of communications earned him a salary of nearly $130,000 annually, according to the 2018 Sunshine List. In his new position as chief of staff, he is receiving a raise. However, Lachemi says that he would still be paid less than the two jobs combined.
“I wanted to ensure that there was saving taking place,” Lachemi said.
Forbes says the department he came from was affected by the budget cuts, after Ryerson implemented an across-the-board reduction in operating costs.
“In my communications operations we absorbed the budget cuts,” Forbes says.
The chief of staff position involves numerous responsibilities.
“There’s running … the president’s office, which includes the convocation and ceremonies office, and all of his day to day business in running the university,” Forbes says. “I’m also heading up the communications unit from the president’s office.”