Additional context on auditor general findings

Updated Oct. 25, 2023

Memorial continues to review and analyze the Auditor General's report since its release on Oct. 23. While more information will be forthcoming as this work continues, this document outlines some of the Auditor General’s findings and the university’s initial response. 

The audit period (April 2019 – December 2022) included a time of substantial challenges at Memorial and in the world. There have been significant changes at the university since that time and Memorial will continue to evolve in response to the issues raised by the Auditor General. A summary of these changes is available here.

Working collaboratively, the university and the Board of Regents are committed to addressing the recommendations while maintaining the university’s autonomy and continuing to serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Memorial is committed to ensuring the best possible use of public resources while attracting and retaining professionals with the necessary skills and experience to run its operations effectively.

Memorial aims to pay its employees fairly by comparing their salaries to what is typical in the job market. The university strives to keep salaries around the middle point of what similar jobs in similar markets pay.  

  • For positions that generally require experience in the academic sector, the university uses other universities for its benchmark. This would include positions like the vice-president (academic).
  • For positions that generally require experience in the public sector, the university looks at the national broader public sector market.

Auditor General area of concern

Memorial University’s response

Evaluation of compensation policies and practices

Memorial’s compensation policy is available on the university policy website. Memorial’s policies do not expire.

There was a review of executive salary scales in 2022, a review of senior management scales in 2019 and a review of benefits in 2020. The university’s compensation philosophy aligns with the middle point of salaries for similar positions in similar markets.

Alignment with government classification

An independent third party is used to validate all senior staff positions at Memorial to ensure they are appropriately evaluated under the Hay Method of job classification/evaluation. 

The Hay Method is also used by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Salary scales aligned with government

Canadian universities typically do not directly benchmark compensation only to their respective government. 

Memorial has taken a proactive approach to ensuring salary scales are appropriately benchmarked:

  • In 2019, management salary scales were reviewed. This led to the creation of a revised salary scale that is aligned with salaries in the national, broader public sector.
    Note: Management refers to senior, non-academic staff in this context.
  • In 2022, executive salary scales were reviewed. This led to the creation of a revised salary scale that is aligned with salaries at comparable Canadian universities.
    Note: Executive refers to vice-presidents in this context.
  • The revised scales were approved by the Board of Regents.

A review of management and professional staff (non-bargaining, non-academic employees) pay scales is planned for the future.

Vice-presidents (also referred to as executive) with above scale contracts

Prior to a 2022 review of executive scale salaries, the most recent comprehensive review of executive compensation was undertaken in 2005-06. In the intervening years, compensation fell out of step with other universities. This put Memorial at a disadvantage when trying to recruit and retain qualified candidates. Salary deviations were approved and employment contracts were put in place, because the previous compensation scale was not competitive. With the 2022 review, it is not anticipated that deviations will be required.


A review of employee benefits was conducted in March 2020. This review, which was requested by the Board of Regents and conducted by an independent organization, found that Memorial’s benefits were generally comparable to a variety of organizations, including the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Leave entitlements

Sick leave at Memorial is not an entitlement that accumulates. It is available as required and is closely monitored. It requires valid medical documentation after four consecutive days. This is not a leave that would be paid out on retirement or exit from the university.

The actual annual average sick leave usage at Memorial is approximately five days for non-academic management and professional employees.

Management level annual leave ranges from 20 total maximum days per fiscal year for employees working less than ten years to 30 maximum days per fiscal year for employees working 25 years or more.

Memorial’s Leave Policy is available here.

Comparator universities

The following chart provides context on comparable universities. Please note that compensation data has been gathered from available public salary information. These salary disclosures reflect what an individual has earned in that year and may not reflect the actual annual salary (for example, if a person served in the position for less than a year or switched positions). Memorial’s executive scales were developed based on the median salary of comparable universities, including those noted below.


Total enrolment 2023

Operating budget 2023 (millions)

President salary  

Provost and vice-president (academic) salary

VP salary range  

Memorial University

19,020 (Sept. 20, 2022)

$400.3 (2022-23)

$434,000 (N. Bose)

$260,000 (2023)


Scale: $260,000 - $325,000 (2023)

$232,015 - $290,019 (2023)

Dalhousie University

22,104 (Dec. 1, 2022)

$557.8 (2023-24)

$558,154 (2021‑22)

$341,785 (2022)

$186,672 - $341,785 (2022)

University of New Brunswick

9,928 (Jan., 2023)

$262.7 (2023-24)

$425,000 ‐ 449,999(2022)

$225,000 ‐ $249,999 (2022)

$225,000 ‐ $274,999 (2022)

University of Victoria

22,620 (Nov. 1, 2021)

$487.8 (2023-24)

$497,121 (2023)

$298,708 (2023)

$298,708-$378,506 (2023)

University of Regina

15,639 (Oct. 2022)

$256.3 (2023-24)

$340,000 + Up to 8% Bonus

 $306,503.06 (2022)

$260,812-$318,970 (2021)


Memorial is committed to ensuring all operating expenses are used to serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador through education, research and public engagement.

Auditor General area of concern

Memorial’s response

Combining or realigning administrative roles or activities

Work has begun to improve organizational efficiency and effective risk management in terms of information technology (IT) systems, as it relates to consolidation of data centres and the delivery of foundational IT services. Work has also occurred in the area of strategic procurement.

Universities across the country have varying degrees of centralization/decentralization for their operations. A decentralized operational structure places responsibilities at the unit level, but with regular interaction and oversight by centralized units. For example, in relation to university budgeting, this means:

  • Units are responsible for distribution of the unit budget allocation as well as accurate and complete financial reporting for actual revenue and expenditures.
  • The central budget office is responsible for preparing and reviewing daily reports for all units to monitor the total budget of the university. The unit also investigates any areas of concern; provides updates to senior leadership, the Board of Regents and the provincial government; provides training to units on budgeting and financial reporting systems; and provides information to units throughout the university.

University operating expenses are reasonable and appropriately monitored

The proportion of Memorial’s operating budget that is allocated to administration (11.8%) is aligned with that of comparable universities.    

Comparing administrative cost per student at Memorial to other institutions is challenging for three reasons: 

  • Memorial is a comprehensive university with a medical school, which is an unusual structure. Most medical/doctoral universities have large overall student populations that Memorial does not have. There are high costs associated with a med school coupled with a relatively small enrolment (about 500 students) which can skew cost per student.   
  • The Marine Institute offers diploma and certificate programs, which are excluded from Stats Canada enrollment numbers, yet the operating expenditures that have external funding are included. This skews the data.  
  • Finally, as the only university in the province there are costs associated with maintaining a province-wide presence.

Resources within the Department of Human Resources will be used to support executive searches, rather than the use of executive search firms. Use of executive search firms will require approval by the President’s Executive Council (PEC), based on recommendation of the specific search committee. 

Sponsorship guidelines are under development to ensure limited sponsorship spending and only if the sponsorship opportunity aligns with key strategic priorities. 

Work is underway to ensure that Memorial will only join organizations with membership fees if there is clear alignment between that organization and Memorial. Any renewal of membership fees will first consider the benefits of membership.  

Memorial has reviewed the terms of the contract put in place with a consultant regarding Harlow Campus. This contract did not require a final report.  This person is no longer under contract with Memorial.  



Auditor General area of concern 

Memorial’s response 

Oversight functions that ensure alignment of policies and appropriate management of the organization 

There has been a renewed focus on policy development and renewal. From December 2022 to October 2023, four policies have been approved by the Board of Regents. There are currently 12 policies in some stage of development or review.  Memorial’s policies do not expire; those that are past their review date are still in effect. 

To ensure appropriate oversight of executive travel, a new travel request process has been approved for Memorial’s president and vice-presidents. Travel requests for VPs must be approved by the president in advance of any travel, and travel requests for the president must be approved by the chair of the Board of Regents, also in advance of any travel.    

Work has begun to ensure new and returning members of the Board of Regents are appropriately prepared for their responsibilities as board members and equipped to govern in the best interests of the institution. This includes a revamped and expanded onboarding program. In September 2023, Board of Regents members participated in a day-long onboarding session, which included sessions on conflict of interest and fiduciary responsibilities. In addition, one-on-one meetings were held with each board member and the board chair and General Counsel. 

The mandates, composition and terms of reference for committees of the Board of Regents have changed. The mandates have been updated to be more reflective of current governance issues. More information is available on the Board of Regents website  

Ensure the Board of Regents, executive and administrative management have the necessary financial information and analysis, in a sufficiently detailed and timely manner 

The Budget Office has developed a more comprehensive monthly report for units, which was implemented in July 2023.    

More detailed financial updates will be provided to the Board of Regents to inform its oversight and decision making. This includes regularly scheduled variance analysis by account, rather than at the portfolio level.  

A Chief Financial Officer (an existing position re-titled from Director of Finance and Administrative Services) will provide a robust focus on key financial issues to ensure appropriate oversight at both the executive and board level.  

Ensure that all executive and administrative management position roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, documented and communicated with appropriate performance measures in place for evaluation. 

As part of the interim president’s contract, performance objectives have been set in consultation with the Board of Regents. His performance will be reviewed in accordance with the Presidential Assessment Policy and will include a 360 review. 

The president and vice-chancellor (pro tempore) has implemented a structured review process for all vice-presidents, based on agreed-upon performance measures. 

Transactions are free of perceived or real conflicts and potential error or fraud is managed effectively. 

Memorial has annual financial audits, conducted by independent, external firms. These professional auditors are responsible for obtaining reasonable assurance that the financial statements, as a whole, are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.  


For more than 20 years, these independent audits have shown Memorial’s financial reporting to be in compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and to be presented fairly.   

Additional training for employees on accurate coding of financial records is being developed. 

During the audit, the instances of expenses being miscoded or misclassified in Memorial’s accounting records do not result in misleading financial reporting. The various general ledger accounts roll up to a higher level that results in accurate reporting at the higher level. 

  • For example, the “materials and supplies” expense category contains account codes such as “office supplies,” “paper” and “toner.” A unit may record the purchase of paper under the office supplies code, rather than the paper code. The expenses incurred are all reported as materials and supplies on the financial statements. 

The Public Procurement Agency has audited the procurement practices of Memorial’s Strategic Procurement Office, Financial and Administrative Services in relation to procurement of commodities for Facilities Management. The audit showed those procurement activities were in compliance with the Public Procurement Act, its regulations and the Public Procurement Policy. The agency is now conducting an audit on the procurement practices at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. 

Ensure conflict of interest and fraud risk management processes are in place and working effectively  

Memorial has a conflict of interest policy and a conflict of interest committee that meets regularly to examine and adjudicate perceived and actual conflict of interest cases. This committee reviews an average of 60 cases a year.   

Memorial has a protected disclosure policy, which provides a mechanism for members of the university to report wrongdoing and provides protection for members who report wrongdoing.   

The Office of Internal Audit provides assurance on Memorial’s governance, risk management and control processes.   


This independent office performs internal audits, and provides consulting, advisory, and investigative services for the university. The University Auditor reports functionally to the Board of Regents through its Audit and Finance Committee and administratively (i.e., day-to-day operations) to the President and Vice-Chancellor. 

The Office of the Chief Risk Officer, which maintains the university’s risk management framework. 

The Audit and Finance Committee of the Board of Regents provides assistance to the board in fulfilling its legal, financial and fiduciary obligations in relation to oversight, reporting, operational and compliance risk. 


Monitoring of non-operating funds 

Memorial’s non-operating funds include research funds, plant funds, special purpose and trust funds, and ancillary funds. 

Oversight of these funds occurs as follows: 

  • Research funds: The university receives millions of dollars in research funding each year and this funding is restricted for use in accordance with each research funding agreement. The university reports to the various funding agencies on the use of their research funding on an annual or quarterly basis as required in each funding agreement. Memorial’s oversight of these funds is regularly audited by funding agencies, including the Tri-Council, ACOA, and the provincial Department of Industry, Energy and Technology. 
  • Plant funds: The campus renewal fee is approved by the Board of Regents when it approves the operating budget. Other components of the plant fund may include capital projects where the board has approved the associated capital project and the associated funding. The president reports to the board on these aspects through existing mechanisms such as the Capital Project Update which is submitted to every board meeting. The board also approves the annual deferred maintenance spending by the university. 
  • Special purpose and trust funds: These are funds restricted for specific purposes such as endowed scholarships and bursaries. Each trust fund has its own terms and conditions detailing how the funds are to be spent. Spending of these funds follows the board- approved Statement of Investment Policy and Objectives. The board receives an annual report on the funds. 
  • Ancillary funds: These funds include the operation of the university bookstores, housing, cafeterias, etc.  These units are responsible to generate revenue to cover their expenses and are overseen by the respective vice-president. The board receives an annual update on their financial results as part of the university financial statements.