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A Survey of Departmental Merit Salary Reviews

Although the University administration sets the pool of funds available for salary distribution and provides broad guidelines, most of the decisions for individual salary increases are made at the unit level - within departments and colleges. To learn the mechanics of merit evaluation and salary determination at this level, the committee sent a brief questionnaire to the chairs and deans of 24 units on campus (the questionnaire is reprinted in Appendix C). We received 19 responses. The questions asked and a synopsis of the responses were as follows:

1. Who reviews whom?

Many models exist. Although the language of the Faculty Code states that faculty of a higher rank review and assign salary increases to all faculty of lower rank, and that full professors participate in the evaluation of those at the same rank, few departments follow this procedure. In some departments, the chair reviews full professors. In a few departments all faculty are given the opportunity to rate all other faculty regardless of rank. Another model is to have the authority to do faculty reviews delegated a small departmental committee. In every case the chair is the final assignor of raises in order to comply with the restrictions of salary steps.

2. What data are collected during the review process?

Most departments collect annual data on teaching, research, and service activities. For teaching, course syllabi, course development, student ratings, and some peer reviews are used. For research, publications, research funding, graduate student supervision, and impact of research are considered. These data are presented in a number of different forms. These range from a full CV (career), a CV supplement covering only the past 2-5 years, or, more usually, a faculty activity report for the last year.

3. How is career merit evaluated relative to merit since the last review?

The responses were evenly split on this question between those departments that evaluate career achievements (as evident in the complete CV) and those that just examine the activity report or CV supplement since the last review.

4. Is there a special department procedure that is used to rank individuals relative to each other?

If a procedure does exist, it is typically a rating system where faculty are assigned categories (such as low, medium, and high) or a numerical rating of 0-10 with a department average of 5. No department reported a system in which faculty was rank ordered although a few departments stated that this was done sometimes in the discussion of lower-ranking faculty.

5. How does the faculty weigh equity concerns?

The overwhelming majority of respondents took salary inequalities within the unit into account in addition to merit.

6. Do all faculty receive data on the current distribution of salary as a part of the process?

While such data are available, most departments do not distribute the salary distribution to faculty.

7. How much time is spent evaluating each faculty member for annual reviews?

Answers to this question varied significantly. For discussions in faculty meetings the time varied from 20 minutes to a mind-numbing 10 hours. The total time spent by faculty members reviewing their colleagues outside the faculty meeting (which is the most prevalent case) varied between 1 and 10 hours.

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