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Forest and Wildlife Ecology - Department Policies - Faculty Merit Pay

Department policy and procedures related to merit review for faculty

The following proposed policy was designed to reward merit as fairly and simply as possible. Its distinguishing features are that:
  1. faculty merit scores are determined by a rotating committee;
  2. scores are based on performance in teaching, research, extension, and outreach/service relative to department expectations;
  3. scores are based on five easily interpreted categories (e.g., “exceeds expectations”) to recognize differences in performance without implying false precision and without being cumbersome and time-consuming to implement; and
  4. scores are weighted in each category of job performance based on each faculty’s self-assessment regarding how much of his/her time is devoted to each category.
Because the scoring procedure is straightforward and transparent, the scoring process from year to year should be fairly consistent regardless of committee membership and should fairly reward different areas of job performance.

Merit Salary Committee
Three to five tenured faculty members, plus the department chair, will serve on the merit pay committee. Each tenured faculty member will serve on a rotating basis, and no committee member shall serve for more than three consecutive years. The committee will review each department faculty member based on that member’s departmental annual report. It is incumbent on faculty members to capture their productivity in their annual report.

The chair is not evaluated by this committee, as he/she is evaluated by the CALS Dean, and no committee member self-evaluates. The department chair will not rank faculty members.

Assessment Categories
Each faculty member will be evaluated on the following:
  • Teaching – the evaluation of teaching will be based on type and number of classes offered, enrollment (i.e., CFIs), and student evaluations, plus undergraduate and graduate student advising.
  • Research – the evaluation of research will be based on number and quality of publications, grants received and submitted, and other scholarly activity, e.g., invited presentations.
  • Extension – evaluation of extension will be based on number of extension publications, presentations, field days and demonstrations, media requests, etc. The University of Wisconsin Extension document titled “Defining Excellence among Integrated Cooperative Extension Specialists in Wisconsin” provides guidance in evaluating extension faculty (link to the document).
  • Outreach/Service – Outreach will be based on any of the abovementioned extension activities that are conducted by faculty that do not have an extension appointment. Service may include activities to benefit our department, CALS, UW, or the faculty member’s profession.
In addition to the categories above, unusual circumstances will be taken into account. Examples include consulting duties, journal editor, or development of a new course.

Based on the categories above, each faculty member will receive a ranking of 1-5 from each of the 4 committee members, where:
4 = exceeds departmental expectations for research productivity, teaching effectiveness, extension, or outreach/service.
3 = meets departmental expectations for research productivity, teaching effectiveness, extension, or outreach/service.
2 = lower than departmental expectations for research productivity, teaching effectiveness, extension, or outreach/service.
And 5 and 1 may be used in unusual cases.

Faculty’s self-assessment of actual effort splits
The amount of time that different faculty devote to teaching, research, and outreach/service differs greatly, and appointment splits often do not reflect actual splits. Each faculty member will thus self-assess how much of his/her time is devoted to teaching, research, extension and outreach/service. The self-assessment should reflect averages over multiple years, and is updated every five years. Outreach/service cannot exceed 15%. 

Assessment and Ranking Process
Each faculty member will be given evaluation scores in each category—teaching, research, extension and outreach/service—with the overall merit evaluation score computed as an average score weighted by the faculty member’s self-assessed time devoted to each of those categories.

After each faculty member is evaluated by each member of the merit committee, the rankings will be averaged.  Following that, a grand average for the entire faculty is calculated. If this grand average exceeds or falls short of 3.00, then an additive adjustment is applied equally to all faculty average scores such that the grand average is 3.00. All scores (teaching, research, extension, and service) for each faculty member, and the weighted average, will be forwarded by the committee as input for the chair and associate chair, who will make final decisions regarding merit pay.

Additional feedback
Faculty members interested in obtaining further feedback on the committee’s rationale for their ranking are encouraged to meet with the department chair.

Three-year rolling average, and opting-out rules
To account for inter-annual fluctuations in both the rate of raises and the productivity of faculty, the scores from the last three annual performance rankings (if available) will be averaged.

Faculty can opt out of the rankings for a given year for any reason similar to those that would allow one to extend the tenure clock by one year (e.g., major illness or the birth of a child). For details on the criteria for opting out, faculty are encouraged to consult the campus policy on tenure clock extensions. The department chair will ask faculty if they would like to opt out prior to each year’s merit ranking exercise. The rolling average for those faculty that chose to opt out would then be calculated based on the three most recent years in which they participated in the ranking.

Merit Calculation
As a default, the percent salary adjustment for each faculty member is obtained by taking his/her score obtained from the previous step, dividing that by 3.0, and then multiplying that by the average merit increase determined by the dean and campus. For example, suppose faculty member Y has a score of 4.2 and the average merit increase for the college is 3.5%. Then faculty member Y’s percent increase will be 4.2/3.0 = 1.4 times the college average merit increase, that is 1.4 times 3.5 = 4.9%.  

The department chair, in consultation with the committee, also may elect to modify the aforementioned default procedure by compressing or expanding the overall range in the merit increase multiplier (i.e., 1.4 in the example above). 

An interim guidance for reconsideration was created by the Chair in May 2016. See MeritSalaryreconsiderationinterimguidance.docx

Key contact and responsible party: F&W Ecol. Chair and Merit Salary Committee

Timing: Faculty report annual activities on a calendar year basis. The Merit Salary Committee meets in the Spring semester to complete the merit review process.

Process for updating or changing policy: Action by the Department Faculty.

History of changes: Initial policy was adopted in May 2014; Revisions adopted in April 2017; Chair created interim guidance for reconsideration in May 2016. 


If you have questions about F&W Ecology Faculty Merit Pay, contact Mark Rickenbach.

Keywords:russell lab hub administration post tenure review Forest Wildlife Ecology FWE faculty   Doc ID:62006
Owner:Mark R.Group:Russell Labs Hub
Created:2016-03-17 09:47 CDTUpdated:2018-05-16 13:22 CDT
Sites:Russell Labs Hub
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