Strategic Salary Increases on the Way

November 21, 2011 — University of Virginia faculty and University staff who will receive salary increases will be notified by their schools or vice presidential units this week.

The raises take effect Nov. 21 and will be reflected in the Dec. 9 paycheck for University staff paid biweekly and in the Dec. 30 paycheck for faculty paid monthly.

The Board of Visitors approved a $3 million allocation in June, to address salary issues in order to retain the highest-performing University staff and faculty. The increases are intended as one way for the University to demonstrate the value it places on employees.

"The University of Virginia recognizes that people are our biggest investment," said Michael Strine, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We would not be able to hold true to our mission of excellence in teaching, research, patient care and service without the dedication and innovation of our staff and faculty."

The board allocated the funds despite ongoing budget cuts. The University's 2011-12 budget reflects the effect of an ongoing weak economy, as it incurred a fifth round of state budget reductions in five years – the latest, almost $15 million – resulting in $51.5 million in total annual reductions, according to the 2011-12 budget summary for the University's academic division.

About 5,300 University staff and faculty members, including teaching and research faculty, administrative and professional faculty and professional research staff, were eligible for the raises, based on several factors, with a highly rated performance the top priority for staff. Employees who switched in October from classified to University staff were among those eligible, but an increase was not guaranteed.

"The funds approved by the Board of Visitors were allocated to address a range of 'strategic' salary adjustments," said Susan Carkeek, vice president and chief human resources officer. "Having experienced four years with no base salary increases, the school and units have latitude to apply the funds to their most critical retention issues. In addition to merit increases for high performers, the funds can also be used for market-based adjustments, for salary equity adjustments and other critical retention issues."

The U.Va. Budget Office determined the allocations for each school and unit and notified them in August. Vice presidents and deans had the responsibility for making final decisions on how they would distribute the increases.

Although employee performance is the top priority for targeted increases this year, a specific rating wouldn't automatically trigger a certain percentage pay raise. Another significant factor was comparing U.Va. salaries to market ranges. The Lead@UVa system has a pay action tool to aid U.Va. managers in evaluating pay decisions objectively.

In addition, the University continues to focus on helping its lowest-paid employees, who have felt a disproportionate impact from the state salary freezes. The University implemented targeted increases to both salaries and benefits for these employees, including raising the minimum hiring rate 5 percent in July, from $10.14 to $10.65 per hour, and providing accelerated salary increases to employees earning less than $25,000 annually. Other initiatives to aid the lowest-paid employees included raising the benefit credit to $450 per year for University staff earning less than $42,000 to offset the cost of benefit deductions, such as the recent state-mandated 5 percent contribution to the Virginia Retirement System.

The state did not authorize increases for classified staff this year. Increases for classified staff are legislated by the General Assembly as part of each year's Appropriations Act. The University does not have the authority to give annual salary increases to classified staff unless they are passed as part of that act. The state has not approved funding for pay raises since December 2007.

— by Anne Bromley

Media Contact

Alexandra Rebhorn

University Human Resources