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Advisory committee forwards recommendations to enhance UT Austin’s current compensation and classification plan to President Larry R. Faulkner

A presidential advisory committee on Thursday outlined major revisions to modify and enhance The University of Texas at Austin’s current compensation and classification plan for staff. The committee recommended increases in minimum salary rates, pay raises for staff members making below the market rate for similar jobs in Austin and other relevant labor markets, and special equity adjustments based on job performance.

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AUSTIN, Texas — A presidential advisory committee on Thursday outlined major revisions to modify and enhance The University of Texas at Austin’s current compensation and classification plan for staff. The committee recommended increases in minimum salary rates, pay raises for staff members making below the market rate for similar jobs in Austin and other relevant labor markets, and special equity adjustments based on job performance.

The report of the Compensation Advisory Committee was submitted to UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner, who said the University administration will respond to the recommendations next week. The cost of implementing all of the recommendations as proposed would be about $21 million, according to the committee report.

“The Compensation Advisory Committee has done outstanding work in analyzing a compensation and classification system that has undergone few significant modifications since it was implemented in 1969,” said Faulkner. “The salary issue is complex because it involves an ongoing commitment of millions of dollars that have to be available year after year. Some difficult choices and decisions will have to be made, because we don’t have millions of uncommitted dollars in our budget. Even so, we fully recognize the vital role the staff of the University plays and the need for University salaries to be competitive. By Friday of next week, we will announce what we will do to address this issue.”

Associate Vice President Dorothea Adams and Vice Provost William F. Lasher, co-chairs of the committee, said the 13 members of the group met at least weekly from Jan. 22 until today (April 30) and the committee was unanimous in praising University staff members as a “very loyal and hard-working group.”

“There are obviously benefits, monetary as well as non-monetary, associated with working at UT Austin,” Adams and Lasher said in the report. “However, the committee finds that the level of staff compensation is not where it should be. This situation makes it difficult to recruit and retain qualified staff members in certain critical areas.

“If the University is unable to attract such individuals, or if it loses the ones it has, the quality of its programs ultimately suffers,” Adams and Lasher said. “The infrastructure required to support the institution’s basic mission of teaching, research and public service becomes inadequate. This problem needs to be solved. The compensation level of UT Austin staff members needs to be improved.”

As part of the proposed classified pay plan, the committee’s recommendations include adoption of a compensation philosophy in support of meeting institutional staffing needs and priorities, which includes the following objectives: To establish compensation levels for positions that reflect job requirements and labor markets, to reward employees on the basis of work performance, and to administer pay equitably and consistently.

The committeeÌs findings and recommendations include the following:

  • Minimum salary rates in the pay plan are generally too low, especially for certain very low paying job titles. Based on its analysis of the Austin job market, the committee recommends the minimum University salary rate in the pay plan be increased to $14,004. The total compensation package for this salary rate would include an average additional fringe benefits package of about $5,000.

  • The annual cost of this recommendation will be $659,000, including fringe benefits, for all fund groups. Implementation is recommended on June 1, 1998.

  • Many of the pay ranges of each job classification in the pay plan do not reflect the labor market relative to the particular job classification. A proposed classified pay plan was developed from market information obtained from an analysis of each job classification.

  • These market-related salary rates should be implemented. Specifically, if the minimum salary rate of a particular job classification is raised, every staff member whose current salary is below the proposed minimum would receive a salary increase to the new minimum.

  • The estimated annual cost of this recommendation is $4.3 million, including fringe benefits, for all fund groups. Implementation is recommended on Sept. 1, 1998.

  • Special equity adjustments should be awarded based on job performance to combat the salary compression that will result from increasing the minimum University salary rate and implementing market-related salary rates. This should occur no later than Sept. 1, 1999, to both classified staff members and professional librarians. The cost could be as much as $16 million, including fringe benefits.

  • The president should appoint a standing committee to work with the Office of Human Resources to review the pay plan and surveys of relevant labor markets. OHR should be responsible for monitoring labor market data from relevant industrial and higher education sources.

    The committee also made several suggestions for new employee benefits, emphasizing that some form of tuition and fee assistance for staff members and improved parking on campus are the most important. It also recommends that OHR launch an education program to improve the understanding across campus of the definitions of, and the policies associated with, promotion, reclassification, merit increases and mandatory annual performance evaluation.

    The committee, which was appointed by President ad interim Peter T. Flawn in December 1997, was charged with building on a compensation study conducted by Buck Consultants to create a master compensation/classification plan for the campus.UT Austin’s Compensation Advisory Committee is composed of Adams; Lasher; Dr. Neal Armstrong, College of Engineering; Dr. Allen Bizzell, College and Graduate School of Business; Janice Daman, College of Communication; Dr. Brian Graham-Moore, department of management; Sandra Haire, Office of Human Resources; Sharon Justice, Office of the Dean of Students; Mary Knight, Budget Office; Peg Kramer, University Staff Association; Dr. F. Michael Pestorius, Applied Research Laboratories; L. Kay Sewell, General Libraries; and Lee Smith, Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs.

    After extensive analysis, the committee neither endorsed nor rejected the Buck report. The committee was unable to verify reports in the news media that the Buck study indicates 94 percent of UT Austin non-teaching staff are paid salaries below local market averages. However, the committee agreed with the Buck conclusion that many UT Austin staff members are underpaid when compared to relevant markets.

    “In our opinion, the UT Austin classified pay plan should not be totally replaced, certainly not by the salary structures recommended by the Buck study,” the committee reported. “Such a replacement would be extremely difficult, if not chaotic, to implement. We do find that the pay plan is in need of an overhaul, and this is the basis of our recommendations.”

    NOTE to MEDIA: Copies of the compensation study can be obtained by calling the Office of the Provost at (512) 471-4363 or the Office of Public Affairs at (512) 471-3151. The full text of the Compensation Advisory Committee’s report will be available on the World Wide Web on Monday, May 4, at this address: http://www.utexas.edu/president/