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U of A buys president's house for $930,000
Published Thursday, August 5, 2010 6:06PM MDT
Recently released financial figures show the University of Alberta's president Indira Samarasekera sold her house last year to the university for $930,000 as part of her contract negotiations.
When Samarasekera bought the 85-year-old home in 2005, she paid about $750,000. Then four years later, she sold it to the university for $930,000.
"By having it set up in this structure, the university has a very strategic advantage of owning a house for their president, which is really, really beneficial when you're recruiting a president," said Brian Heidecker, chair of the university's board of governors.
The last time a university president lived in a university's official residence was 1959. Walter Johns lived in a president's residence during his presidential tenure from 1959 to 1969. And other Canadian universities currently have homes for their presidents.
Heidecker says Samarasekera will continue to live at the home, and pay rent based on fair market value.
The home has also been renovated. A resident in the area says she noticed some work being done.
"I noticed them doing the cement, I noticed them working on the outside of the house," said Lynda Schmidt.
Schmidt says she also saw new siding on the home, new windows and a new driveway.
The board of governors defends the renovations, but Heidecker could not provide CTV News with the final cost of the updating the home. He says it was a small part of the university's maintenance budget needed to keep buildings from deteriorating.
The university's students' union says they will be asking questions about the renovations when the board of governors has its next meeting in September.
"What would be concerning if there was any excessive spending on the building," said Nick Dehod, with the University of Alberta's Students' Union.
The board of governors says the house was bought using money from the capital budget, which is separate from the operating budget that is nearly $15 million in debt.
The financial figures also disclose the president's base salary of nearly $480,000. When other non-cash benefits are added, the president's total compensation is $936,000.
With files from Susan Amerongen