Guidance for Faculty Salary Adjustments

(through June 30, 2021)

In accordance with the Financial Impact Memo sent to the University community on April 14, the University will have no merit increases, effective through the end of the next fiscal year (June 30, 2021). We recognize that in times of a salary freeze, compensation adjustments sometimes must be made to retain our best faculty, who are so crucial to fulfilling the University’s core missions of teaching, research, and patient care. This document is designed to provide guidance to schools regarding the process by which exceptions to the salary freeze may be considered by the provost. Under our existing policies (pre-dating this pandemic), faculty salary increases require the review and approval of the provost.

A few principles will guide the Provost’s office assessment of exceptions requests. The principles announced on April 14th will be our guide: maintain excellence in core mission; support the most vulnerable; and be creative. Second, under the University Financial Model (UFM), deans are responsible for managing their school’s revenues and expenses in order to meet the strategic and mission-critical needs within their respective areas. The goal of this salary freeze is to save resources given the extraordinary financial impact of COVID-19; thus, any request for an exception to the salary freeze should be accompanied by financial analysis, in accordance with the University’s financial planning guidance [to be issued soon]. Finally, the guidance outlined in this document is intended to promote transparency between and among our schools and departments, and at the same time, as noted on April 14th, recognizing the need for compensation increases related to “contractually required increases and those related to promotion or internal equity.”

Schools may recommend increases for cases that fall under the specific exceptions to the salary freeze as outlined in the Financial Impact Memo, or because of a prior University commitment that may have been made to the faculty member. Specific reasons for such requests include:

  • Promotion or Tenure: Faculty members who were promoted or tenured in the last year and whose salaries have not already been adjusted for the new rank are eligible for consideration of an increase. These increases should align with the school’s practices for promotion or tenure increases over the last few years. Deans may opt to split salary increases over several years in an effort to minimize financial hardship to the school. All schools are encouraged to develop transparent plans for bringing recently promoted/tenured faculty members’ salaries to the appropriate level in recognition of this significant moment in their careers.

  • Internal Equity: Schools or departments that have substantial faculty salary inequities vis-à-vis performance may submit a request for salary adjustments to reduce the disparity. A pause in across-the-board merit increases may provide a rare opportunity to address (or at least diminish) internal inequities. For each individual for whom a salary increase is recommended, schools should again provide the usual documentation, including a description of the methodology used to identify faculty members eligible for the increase and the specific comparators that were used to ascertain the severity of the inequity.

  • Contractually Required: In cases where a written contract that obligates the University to provide either an increase to an individual’s base salary or some other form of guaranteed compensation, deans should abide by those contracts. The contract will serve as documentation/justification for the exception to the salary freeze.

As is already our practice, requests to increase an individual faculty member’s salary for purposes of retention may be considered throughout the year. In these cases, deans should submit the recommendation to the provost’s office with the normal documentation, for example: a justification of why retaining the individual is of strategic importance for the school and institution, how the faculty member is key to maintaining excellence in our core mission, what other creative ways to retain the faculty member were explored, the amount and percentage of the proposed increase (with a rationale for how the amount was determined), and any equity issues that may result from the proposed salary adjustment.

Other types of faculty compensation, such as overload, administrative supplements, and bonuses, will continue to be administered in accordance with our current policies and procedures.

Details regarding the one-time mass exception process for salary increase requests primarily due to promotion or tenure have been sent to school contacts. Individual ad-hoc (“out-of-cycle”) exceptions may be requested throughout the year through Workday as is normally the case for out-of-cycle increases. Please be sure to attach the appropriate documentation. If a request is urgent, and/or requires discussion, schools should send an email to or contact Maggie Harden directly.