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Research Faculty Salary Adjustment Guidelines

Annual Faculty Salary Adjustment and Merit Adjustment Guidelines

It is the expectation of the university that salary adjustments will be normally handled through the annual faculty salary adjustment and merit process. Research faculty members, both regular and restricted, are eligible for annual merit adjustments and special adjustments when available. Merit recommendations for research faculty members are generally expected to track the merit adjustments for teaching and research faculty members. The University issues guidelines on the amount of merit increases and ranges annually.

Supervisors, usually principal investigators, are responsible for conducting annual evaluation for any and all research faculty under their direction. A performance review must be shared with the appointee, and documented in writing. This documentation supports the request for annual merit and/or special adjustments to salary based on other relevant factors, such as internal alignment/equity or market competitiveness. Departments and colleges have decentralized authority to determine the how and when annual evaluations are conducted. The Office of Research Human Resources of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI-HR) is available to assist departments in implementing performance evaluation programs for research faculty.

Other salary adjustments may also be submitted and approved outside of the merit process and are detailed in the next section. These increases may reflect more gradual changes in responsibility, scholarship, market competitiveness or internal alignment. Supervisors should carefully review the salaries of research faculty on an annual basis to best manage the work force.

Salary Adjustment Guidelines

The annual faculty salary adjustment and merit process should be used in most circumstances to assure that faculty salaries are commensurate with their contributions and scholarship. However, there are instances when an adjustment to salary may occur outside of the annual faculty salary adjustment and merit process for activities such as adjustments for promotion in rank, increased responsibility, retention, equity, or other reasons critical to retaining productive research faculty members and compensating them fairly.

Many factors should be considered when requesting a salary adjustment outside of the annual faculty salary adjustment and merit process, including job complexities, market salaries, salaries paid to other employees with comparable responsibilities, and available funds.  Departmental supervisors may contact OVPRI-HR to discuss options and access data that may be helpful in decision making.   Requests for salary adjustments for research faculty may be made and approved outside the annual process in any of the following circumstances:

  1. Retention.
  2. Completion of a degree or professional designation/certification.
  3. Additional significant new job duties.
  4. Change in rank following a search.

Retention: Occasionally, a research faculty member may receive a job offer from an external entity that a department may wish to counter. Retention increases may be approved when there is a specific offer, or high degree of certainty that an offer is forthcoming.  Retention adjustments are not likely to be approved when the primary effort is to align a faculty member's salary with other salaries, or in an effort to be more "competitive’.   Such adjustments should be deferred to the annual faculty salary adjustment and merit process.

Completion of a degree:  Research faculty who complete educational milestones such as a degree, certification, or professional qualification may receive salary adjustments. Departments should establish and apply uniform criteria in deciding eligibility and the amounts of any increases.

Additional job duties:  An increase in salary may be approved when a faculty member's job duties change as a result of a new assignment.  This is most commonly the result of internal restructuring, or reassignment often simultaneous with receipt of a new project, grant, or contract.  The change should be significant reflecting a new role in the department and not be incremental reflecting small increases in job complexity.  As a faculty member's job becomes more complex over time, appropriate adjustments should be made during the annual faculty salary adjustment and merit process.

Change in rank following a search:  Salaries may be adjusted as part of a recruitment process. Adjustments should be well justified, and consistent with the salary that an external candidate would likely negotiate.

The documents required for a salary increase are outlined below. Approval by the department head and dean of college or vice president should be obtained before forwarding the request to OVPRI-HR.  To request a salary adjustment, departments should submit a:

  1. Personnel action form for faculty (P3A-F) to include justification for one of the four acceptable reasons for a salary adjustment.  Where appropriate, please provide comparison to external market data.
  2. Position description entered/updated in the position management system, www.jobs.vt.edu/hr.
  3. Attach candidate's updated CV/Resume.
  4. New Terms of Faculty Offer may also be required where the terms of employment have changed, such as change in FTE, restricted to regular appointment.