Merit-orious moves

UND rallies together to reward all employees with salary increases, additional pool for high performers

Last fall, University leaders worked with schools, colleges and other divisional units on a series of budget planning exercises to make room for continued investments in strategic priorities. Chief among these priorities was the need to take care of all University employees through improved compensation as well as to recruit and retain top-notch talent. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

The University of North Dakota continues to solidify its perch atop the short list of best places to work and serve in North Dakota and across the region.

Tom DiLorenzo

Tom DiLorenzo

A big move in that direction started last fall, when University leaders worked with schools, colleges and other divisional units on a series of budget planning exercises to make room for continued investments in strategic priorities. Chief among these priorities was the need to take care of all University employees through improved compensation as well as to recruit and retain top-notch talent.

“I want to commend everyone for working so diligently with University leadership to reshape our budget to a level that makes it possible to reinvest in University and college strategic priorities,” said Tom DiLorenzo, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

UND Vice President for Finance & Operations Jed Shivers said those efforts, at the college and administrative unit level, also provided an additional pool of funds — above the 2% established by the Legislature — for merit increases for exemplary, high-achieving employees, based on a set of criteria.

“A significant part of recruiting and retaining high performing people is the need to take care of all University employees through improved merit-based compensation,” he said.

Increases for all

In April, the State Legislature approved a “needs-based” budget for the North Dakota University System (NDUS), including UND, providing needed economic stability. That budget also included a mandated minimum pay increase of $120 per month in year one and a 2.5% compensation increase in year two, of the next biennium, for positions funded by state-appropriated dollars.

Out of a total of 2,009 full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions, UND has approximately 1,118 FTEs that are supported by appropriated funding. The School of Medicine & Health Sciences, which has its own budget line in the overall NDUS ledger, has 259 FTEs on appropriated dollars out of 435 total FTEs.

The budget planning exercises last fall made it possible for the University to extend the same level of increases to all employees regardless of how their positions are funded.

“I would like to extend a special thanks to our Grand Forks area Legislators and their Legislative colleagues who played a major role in securing this very positive outcome,” said Shivers.

Process and guidelines

Jed Shivers

The NDUS budget is slated to be finalized by the System Chancellor at the end of June. The first set of salary increases would take effect after July 1, and would roll into employees’ base salaries.

UND leadership, working with its Finance Division, recently crafted a plan to allocate the additional merit increases to applicable employees.

Once each of UND’s vice presidents receives their respective additional merit pool budget, it will be their responsibility to review and approve merit pay recommendations for their employees.

  • Per NDUS guidelines, across-the-board salary increases will not be allowed.
  • Increases for eligible employees will be based on documented performance.
  • Employees whose overall documented performance level does not meet standards are not eligible for any salary increase.
  • Merit increases, by definition, tend not to be the same percentage increase for each employee.

Shivers stressed that UND’s recent budget reshaping, with salary increases for all employees and a larger merit pool, acknowledges the essential role that all faculty and staff play in the successful pursuit of UND’s strategic goals.

“Compensation, along with educational opportunities, career ladders leading to advancement, and recognizing the key services that our University provides to North Dakota’s citizens, are among the key elements that we hope will enable us to attract and retain the best people,” Shivers said.