Special funds boost biweekly salary pools

In response to a recommendation from the Priorities Committee, President Harold T. Shapiro will use up all of his remaining discretionary funds for this year to provide approximately $400,000 so the University can begin increasing salaries in 2001-02 above regular salary pools in biweekly staff categories that are being paid at or below market rates. According to the committee, these additional funds "represent a significant first step in a strategic effort to bring all support staff salaries to at least 100% of market within a reasonable period of time."

Shapiro announced the special allocation at the May 16 meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) following a report from the committee on the review it was asked to conduct this spring of faculty and staff compensation. The committee focused on categories of biweekly staff that seem to lag behind market rates, including technical support staff, office and clerical workers, some ranks of library assistants and some entry-level maintenance and service staff.

While estimating that the cost of bringing all biweekly staff members to 100 percent of market could exceed $1.5 million, the committee strongly recommended "that steps be taken expeditiously to ensure that, on average, all University staff members receive compensation that is at or slightly above market rates." It said that "if special resources could be identified," it would recommend an additional allocation of approximately $400,000 in 2001-02, over and above a special technical support staff increment of $130,000 already in the 2001-02 budget, with "those staff categories that are the furthest behind the market receiving the largest percentage adjustments."

The committee strongly urged next year's committee to continue the proposed higher level of funding in subsequent years and to allocate additional resources to continue to close the gap between biweekly staff compensation and relevant market rates, "with the hope that this goal can be achieved in the next several years."

In his letter to President Shapiro conveying the report, Provost Jeremiah P. Ostriker, chair of the committee, said that, in the view of the committee, "the University should adopt as a stated goal a policy that the total compensation of its biweekly staff be at rates which are at or slightly above those of their peer groups outside the University." In addition to the provost, the committee includes six faculty members, four undergraduates, two graduate students, a staff member, the dean of the faculty and the vice president for finance and administration.

In its report, the committee noted that "the stated principles of the University's staff salary programs are to reward excellence and to try to maintain a competitive market position for faculty and staff." The committee endorsed this policy, while also suggesting that all of the University's compensation programs "should be moved closer to the practices utilized in the faculty program -- that is, to provide a base adjustment to all staff members whose performance is at least satisfactory, and then to provide an additional merit increase to strong performers."

Looking ahead, the committee recommended that "to the extent possible, future analyses should include a review of salaries and benefits to facilitate assessments of whether the University's total compensation is at or above market rates." The phrase "total compensation" refers to the salary paid plus the value of benefits provided, such as vacation, tuition benefits, pension and insurance benefits.

The committee was asked in March to consider questions that had been raised about the current compensation of faculty and staff. The committee held two regular meetings at which it received updated information about the University's operating budget, heard presentations from the vice president for human resources and the dean of the faculty on the compensation of faculty and staff, and analyzed, in greater than usual detail, the University's current compensation program, concentrating attention on less highly compensated biweekly staff. It also received information from the Workers' Rights Organizing Committee, the Princeton University Library Assistants Union, and those who participated in the April 9 meeting of the CPUC and in a public meeting held by the Priorities Committee on April 24.

Click here for the full Priorities Committee report.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601