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Ex-RRC president received $245K for final months of scandal-plagued tenure

Stephanie Forsyth, former president and CEO of  Red River College.

WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Stephanie Forsyth, former president and CEO of Red River College.

Red River College paid Stephanie Forsyth $245,491 for the final two months of her stormy tenure as president.

But RRC still won’t say if it paid Forsyth any severance to leave quietly.

Forsyth left her job at the end of August of 2014 by mutual agreement with the board of governors after serving 47 months of a five-year contract.

The college has consistently refused to say if it paid Forsyth any severance as an incentive for her to leave, amidst a financial scandal and investigation which led to a scathing provincial government report.

The annual financial compensation public report for all employees who were paid more than $50,000 between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, suggests RRC paid Forsyth about eight months’ salary in severance. It shows she received almost a quarter million dollars for her last 61 days on the payroll. The previous fiscal year, Forsyth received $280,250.72.

Forsyth has not granted interviews since her departure.

The province’s report on the problems at RRC, which can be found here, detailed dozens of questionable spending decisions and personal expenses, as well as a firing spree that saw Forsyth fire without citing just cause or force out 16 senior executives — including some she had hired personally to replace people she’d fired.

When Forsyth left, RRC was still conducting an annual performance review of her presidency, and had not given Forsyth the raise she’d normally received at the start of previous fiscal years.

College officials said Thursday that Red River would not discuss the details of any employee’s salary and benefits because personnel matters are private.

The college did point out that anyone leaving during the fiscal year would have been compensated for benefits such as vacation owing, discretionary expense allowance, and possibly severance pay.

"We can confirm that the financial relationship (with Forsyth) ended during the last fiscal year," and she will not receive anything further from RRC in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, said a college spokesman.

Red River College officials said they would not discuss the details of any employee’s salary and benefits because personnel matters are private.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Red River College officials said they would not discuss the details of any employee’s salary and benefits because personnel matters are private.

There had been reports that Forsyth had not been seen on campus since sometime late in June of 2014, and had been on vacation when the college announced Aug. 30, 2014 that she was no longer president. Red River will not discuss whether Forsyth had used up her vacation when she left.

Forsyth now lives in Penticton, B.C., where her spouse runs a women’s community agency. The Penticton Leader has reported that Forsyth keeps a low profile and has sought work as a carpenter.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg police said Thursday that an investigation — now in its 15th month — is still ongoing into how marble from the college’s culinary arts school ended up in the renovated kitchen of Forsyth’s former Wellington Crescent home.

Forsyth began firing senior executives in the spring of 2011, about seven months after she started as president. RRC has refused to say whether any of the 16 received any severance.

The provincial review reported RRC paid out a total of $639,142.46 in severance, and will spend $3,082,000 to amortize the cost of staff departures over a lengthy period.

The annual financial compensation reports in recent years have some remarkable year-to-year anomalies which suggest that RRC did indeed pay out severance to people whom Forsyth fired or forced to leave.

And most have landed on their feet in senior executive and leadership positions, including many in academia.

The first two to go were long-serving senior executives Catherine Rushton, vice-president of finance and administration, who had also been acting president before Forsyth’s being hired, and Robert Olson, associate vice-president for facilities and campus services. They last attended a board of governors meeting May 25, 2011.

The fiscal year before Forsyth arrived, Rushton was paid $151,608.43 and Olson $126,532.80.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, Rushton received $315,100.63 and Olson $132,026.09.

The following year, Rushton did not make the salary list, but Olson, apparently no longer at the college, was paid $105,712.

Ken Webb, the highly-respected vice-president academic and research, reportedly chose to leave early in 2012. Like the others, he signed a non-disclosure agreement and has declined interviews.

Webb made $146,009.84 during Forsyth’s first year. The following year, 2011-2012, when Webb apparently was not on staff for the entire year, he received $207,611.

Vice-president of business development David Leis was paid $145,573.16 during Forsyth’s first year. He did not appear at a board meeting after November of 2011, five months into the fiscal year, but was paid $154,563 that year.

Forsyth brought in Stan Chung as Webb’s successor — he came from B.C., where Forsyth had previously worked.

Chung lasted about 15 months.

He made $110,321 up to June 30 of 2013, and $185,437.53 from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014; he last attended a board meeting in March of 2014.

The college paid marketing and communications director Twylla Krueger $131,225 in 2011-2012, the following year she received $256,664.

John Baryliuk earned $137,066 in 2011-2012 as director of information technology solutions, the next year in 2012-2013 he made $221.012, which was the last year Baryliuk appeared on the salary list.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 8:30 AM CST: Corrects date

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