Statement of Principles on Merit Pay for Academic Faculty

Dec. 9, 2013

Before the start of the spring 2014 semester, an updated set of “policies and procedures” regarding merit pay (as provided for in UNLV bylaws) -- including updated forms -- is expected to be issued. In anticipation of this, the Office of Executive Vice President and Provost sets forth the following guiding principles for faculty, committees and deans to use in developing 2014 merit pay rankings and distributions (effective for contract year 2014-2015). 

  1. We will adopt as closely as possible the provisions of the UNLV Faculty Senate resolution on merit pay of October 22, 2013. Those provisions are as follows: 
    1. UNLV bylaws shall continue to govern the process of allocating merit increases. 
    2. Merit awards for 2014 shall take into account all activities and achievements over the calendar years 2008-2013, a total of six years. 
    3. As in the past, departments and colleges shall establish their own specific procedures for assessing satisfactory and meritorious activity, as well as the rankings of faculty for the purposes of allocating merits funds—all consistent with UNLV’s and their own bylaws, as well as the procedures identified here. 
    4. Allocations of merit money shall continue with the same seven tiers of dollar amounts that existed before the last distribution of merit for 2007 (from $0 to $4500), though units may deploy those tiers in ways consistent with their own traditions and needs. 
    5. Both those who are applying for promotion in the fall of 2013 and those who have been promoted at any point since 2008 shall be eligible for merit in 2014, regardless of past practices and procedures. 
  2. We will adhere fully to Nevada statute concerning merit pay and UNLV bylaws concerning merit pay, which mandate that allocations be based upon performance. Merit pay may not be and will not be awarded for reasons of longevity of service, restoration of base pay, or equity adjustments. 
    1. The President and Provost have taken steps to address equity and salary compression this year in the process of implementing new salary minima established by the Board of Regents, and UNLV remains committed as an institution to advocating that the state restore full base pay in the next state budget. 
    2. The 2014 merit pay process may not be used to address these otherwise very legitimate goals. Merit awards must be based on meritorious performance. 
  3. Merit rankings shall consider achievements across the entire period of which merit pay has been suspended, January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2013. Merit rankings should reflect the cumulative nature of achievements, and thus rankings should not be narrowly limited to achievements of a single calendar year. 
    1. All faculty are encouraged to apply for merit pay, and committees and deans are encouraged to consider all achievements from the period 2008 through 2013 in ranking for merit pay. 
    2. Each college/unit may determine its own method for assessing achievements across this period, but no college/unit shall discount or fail to consider, in the case of any faculty, any achievements from any given year of this period for which that individual was employed at UNLV. In other words, achievements during the first year of employment, and achievements during a year when a faculty member was reviewed for promotion, which in ordinary procedure may have in the past been excluded from consideration, shall not be excluded in the 2014 rankings.
    3. Likewise, to promote a process of integrity and transparency, individuals ought not withhold achievements from the period 2008 through 2013 for purposes of submitting these same achievements in future merit pay ranking exercises.
  4. Merit pay rankings should be as inclusive as possible. While UNLV bylaws require that all merit awards must be the result of an active expression of intent by an individual to be considered for merit pay, committees and deans are directed to tend towards inclusiveness in applying unit-level standards, procedures and policies. Any merit rankings or awards submitted by a college/unit which have the effect of discriminating against any class will be rejected by the Provost. 
    1. All faculty employed at UNLV as of September 3, 2013, who remain active employees on June 30, 2014, will be eligible for merit pay increments in the 2014-2015 contract year, regardless of start date during the period from 2008 to 2003 and regardless of any pay increments awarded for promotion, retention or for other reasons during the period 2008 to 2013. 
    2. Contrary to standard practice prior to 2008, faculty being promoted effective July 1, 2014, will also be eligible for merit pay increases in the 2014 merit pay rankings. 
  5. The instruments of evaluation by committees and deans for purposes of constituting merit rankings of academic faculty shall be annual faculty work reports, wherever available. 
    1. A general overall application for merit, consisting primarily of a summary statement of achievements by a faculty member addressing how he or she has surpassed minimally meritorious standards for the period 2008 through 2013, shall be made available by the Provost office before the start of the spring semester, and all academic faculty seeking to be considered for merit shall complete and submit this application to the immediate supervisor with the 2013 academic faculty achievement reporting form. 
    2. A survey of deans has found that colleges report having nearly or entirely complete archives of work reports. The cases where work reports may be unavailable shall be discussed by the dean with the faculty committee for the college and a solution proposed to the Provost for approval.
    3. Procedures for handling annual work reports and supporting materials are at the college level, to be determined by committees and deans. The Provost’s office stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to ensure a process of integrity and transparency. 
  6. Merit pay allocations, as recommended by the Senate, will be based upon the previously existing seven-tiered merit pay scale, with fixed-dollar allocations associated with each tier of performance, from $0 to $4500, reproducing the most recently published pay policies and procedures (2007). 
  7. Merit pay rankings of faculty are a function largely of unit-level standards and evaluations. 
    1. All departments/ schools and colleges should be reviewing their written standards for minimally meritorious performance, which should be more restrictive than minimally satisfactory performance, and if necessary, updating those standards this fall. UNLV bylaws mandate that minimally satisfactory standards in each department be established by an elected committee of faculty.
    2. Faculty whose performance has not met minimally satisfactory standards -- i.e., received an unsatisfactory performance evaluation -- cannot be deemed to have met minimally meritorious standards for that evaluation period. Thus, in the case of any faculty member who has received an unsatisfactory annual performance evaluation in any area of endeavor, the committee and dean should exclude from consideration towards merit ranking the achievements of the faculty member in that area for that year. Such faculty member may still receive a merit award based on achievements in other areas and in other years of the merit review period.
    3. Merit rankings are to be established in each college by an elected committee of faculty and reviewed by the dean. Deans may make adjustments, but must under UNLV bylaws provide written rationale for adjustments to the Provost. Any faculty member whose ranking has been adjusted by the Dean to a lower level of award than that proposed by the college faculty committee shall also receive notification and explanation from the Dean.
  8. Faculty who have moved within UNLV from one college or division to another or from one position to another during the period 2008 to 2013, shall be ranked within the current unit as of 1 February 2014. Merit pay increments for such faculty shall be drawn from the merit pool of that unit. 
    1. Such individuals should provide to supervisors or merit committees of current units, as of 1 February 2014, work reports and evaluations from prior colleges or units from any years served in the other units or positions. 
    2. To promote a process with integrity and transparency, deans should confer in evaluating the rankings of such individuals with supervisors or merit committees from prior units for guidance before assigning a merit ranking for such individuals. 
  9. The procedure for allocation of merit pay awards will be as follows: 
    1. In January 2014, each vice president (and then each dean) will be given a specific dollar amount for that unit’s merit pool. Separate pools shall be designated for academic and administrative faculty in each unit. Vice presidents and deans may not supplement this pool with non-state dollars in determining the size of each faculty member’s merit pay award. Note that no separate pool exists for faculty in residence, so that merit allocations for these faculty, if awarded, must come from the allocated pool for that unit.
    2. A separate merit pool shall be established in each unit that has non-state funded academic or administrative faculty lines, drawn from the funding non-state funding source for that faculty line or unit -- i.e., grant or contract, student or client fee, etc. 
    3. Deans shall direct supervisors and chairs/ directors within their divisions and colleges, respectively, on deadlines for submitting appropriate recommendations for merit rankings to the college committee for review, and deans shall instruct college committees on deadlines for submitting recommended rankings to the dean. 
    4. Deans should submit written recommendations for merit awards for all faculty, academic and administrative, to the President and Executive Vice President and Provost by Friday, March 14, 2014. This deadline is a firm one, to facilitate the timeline that the campus must follow in preparing its budget for FY2015 for approval by the Board of Regents at its June meeting. Note that for academic deans, this deadline will fall before the April 4, 2014, deadline for annual performance evaluations.
    5. In keeping with the 2007 policies and procedures, deans shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that within each college or division, no more than approximately 20% should be ranked in the highest tier and no more than approximately 20% should be ranked in the lowest tier. 
    6. Any funds from the merit pool not awarded by a dean shall be redistributed to another college or division for distribution as merit pay.
    7. Recipients of merit allocations will be notified by the relevant dean, chair or supervisor of the recommended merit pay allocation, once the recommendations have been submitted to the Provost by March 14, 2014. 
    8. The formal notification to the entire campus of merit allocations shall be September 1, 2014, and the period for seeking a grievance shall begin with that campus-wide notification. 
      In the case that an individual wishes to request reconsideration and/or bring a grievance, standard procedures remain in effect.