Western Spends Nearly $100K On Damage Control After Chakma Controversy

Western University President Amit Chakma. Photo by Ashton Patis.

Western University paid nearly $100,000 to a public relations firm and two London law firms during the outrage over President Amit Chakma’s double payout last year.

Western University confirms to BlackburnNews.com that school officials consulted with crisis public relations firm Navigator and two London law firms after the annual public disclosure salary revealed President Chakma banked nearly $1-million in 2014.

“Since April 1, 2015, Western University hired three external contractors to provide services in relation to the University President’s salary compensation issue,” reads an email from the school’s Director of Communication Keith Marnoch. “Navigator Ltd., a Toronto firm, was hired as communications advisors and paid $65,025.56. This firm was contracted through legal counsel. Hicks Morley, a London Legal firm specializing in finance/accounting, billed $24,584.28. And the London firm Filion, Wakely, Thorup & Angeletti billed for general legal counsel on this matter – $6,572.36.”

Marnoch notes it is common practice for Western to hire outside firms when needed “to provide independent and dispassionate counsel that ensures Western responds appropriately to our many stakeholders.”

Chakma received the extra year’s salary instead of taking a paid year off at the end of his first term as president, as allowed in his contract.

The double payout did not sit well within the school’s community, spurring online petitions and special school senate meetings, where Chakma survived an attempted vote of non-confidence.

Following the controversy, the school’s public relations team announced a full review of contract negotiations and the compensation of the school’s leaders. It is unclear how much that will cost.

Chakma pledged to meet with all the different faculties and put more energy towards improving the morale around campus, rather than meeting with donors and having off-site meetings.

His progress report is expected at the end of this month.