About the College

Merit Policy

Print this PageHome > About Bouvé > Merit Policy

Approved at the June 5, 2000 Faculty Meeting Revised and approved June 14, 2001

A. Purpose

The purpose of merit review is to measure and to reward individual faculty members' contributions to the achievement of unit goals, and to provide a process to assess and to facilitate professional development.

B. Implementation

1. Within these over all College guidelines, each unit (school, department, or program) shall be permitted to develop its own specific procedures for unit and individual faculty goals and merit review.

2. Upon adoption of this College policy, individual units shall develop their own merit procedures for implementation starting in the 2000-2001 academic year. It is recommended that an ad hoc review of the College policy be conducted two years after implementation, in order to evaluate whether any revisions need to be made.

C. Faculty and Unit Goals

1. The merit process shall be based fundamentally upon unit goals developed in accordance with the University's aspiration statement (to be a national research university that is student-centered, practice-oriented, and urban). These unit goals shall grow out of an ongoing process of discussion amongst the Dean of the College, the School Deans, other Associate Deans and administrators as appropriate, department chairs and program directors, faculty committees as charged in the College bylaws, and all faculty within departments and equivalent units. The unit goals for the College and each of its schools and departments shall be the basis for individual faculty goals, and the department chair (or the equivalent, when a department structure is not utilized) will work with individual faculty to develop these individual goals.

2. Merit evaluations shall cover faculty accomplishments in
a. teaching
b. scholarship and research, and
c. service
In some cases, it may be appropriate under unit goals and a faculty member's appointment to substitute, partly or entirely, other activities as part of, or instead of, these three areas of accomplishment, but merit procedures will otherwise be the same. Examples include, but are not limited to, clinical activities, as well as administrative responsibilities, advising activities, and curriculum development that would be above and beyond what a faculty member would normally be expected to do (such as major curriculum projects, a new program development or taking on advising related to new programming). Goals of individual faculty should refer, as appropriate, to their effectiveness in co-op integration activities.

3. Interdisciplinary and collaborative work, between units within the College as well as between this College and other colleges or between Northeastern and the external community, shall be considered in merit evaluations along with work (including collaborative efforts) within the department (or equivalent unit). Interdisciplinary work with the prior agreement in the context of goal development and distribution of effort shall be regarded as a legitimate part of unit goals. For purposes of this document, the word "interdisciplinary" is to be understood in its most inclusive sense, including multidisciplinary as well as interdisciplinary, as further defined in the College Tenure and Promotion Policy.

4. It is expected that unit goals will vary between different units of the College. It is similarly expected that the distribution of percentage of effort among teaching, scholarship and research, clinical activities, and service (or other activities), shall vary from one faculty member to another, and at different stages of a faculty member's career. The distribution will depend upon how each faculty member can best contribute to the goals of the department (or equivalent unit), the School, the College, and the University. In accordance with the mission of the University and the College, however, faculty must contribute to teaching, scholarship, service, or clinical activities as appropriate to the needs of the unit and to the individual's appointment letter, over the course of their careers.

5. The College shall not set any minimum or maximum percent effort for all College faculty in any area of accomplishment. A school, department, or program may decide to establish such minima or maxima, as a uniform requirement for all faculty of the unit, so long as these requirements advance the unit goals of that unit and the College. However, any such requirements shall be subject to the following restrictions. Such a policy must be approved by a simple majority vote of the faculty of that unit, and must also be approved by the administrator immediately responsible for the unit and by the School and College deans. Such a policy must also include an explicit procedure whereby an individual faculty member may request that an exception be made for good cause in a given year, and whereby that request will be evaluated.

6. In each academic year, following the processes described in section C-l, the department chair (or equivalent) shall meet with each faculty member in the unit, in order to establish the percentage of effort and the goals to be pursued for that faculty member in each merit area for the next review period (see section-D). The individual shall draft goals to meet the unit goals of the department or equivalent, and the final determination of goals shall be the basis for merit evaluation at the end of that review period. The chair shall be responsible for ensuring that there is a fair balance between flexibility in individual faculty roles and the need to distribute workloads equitably among all faculty of the unit, and shall ensure that tenure-track faculty shall have assignments compatible with progress towards tenure. Any constraints on percent effort set by externally funded projects will be taken into consideration during the goal-setting process. In the event of disagreement between a faculty member and the chair (or unit administrator), the chair's decision shall apply. The individual faculty member and administrator will endeavor to reach agreement. In the event such consensus is not achieved both parties will meet with the next level administrator to arrive at consensus. When a decision cannot be reached the decision shall be subject to the appeals procedure described in Section E.

7. The faculty member shall prepare a document stating the agreed-upon goals and percentages of effort, which must be approved and signed by both the faculty member and the chair. The faculty member shall keep a copy of this document, and shall provide a copy to the chair to be placed in the faculty member's file.

8. The percentages of effort for each faculty member may not subsequently be changed unilaterally during that academic year, unless approved by the chair. In the event that unexpected individual or unit developments make it necessary to change percentages of effort, the faculty member shall be given the opportunity to discuss these changes with the unit administrator. Such changes will be documented in an addendum to the original letter of agreement.

9. Tenure-track faculty shall be advised to allocate effort so as to develop the credentials needed for tenure.

10. It is recommended that reliance on time-consuming paperwork or arbitrary point scales be avoided, while faculty teamwork in setting goals should be encouraged. It is also recommended that faculty be encouraged to approach merit documentation as a continuously ongoing process of faculty development, rather than simply as a determinant of pay increments.

D. Merit Evaluation

1. The College Dean shall set a due date for submission of merit materials by the faculty to the merit review committee that is consistent from year to year, and shall specify the time period to be included in the review. (The due date will be chosen to allow enough time to complete the merit review process and submit the results by the Provost's deadline.) In the event of a substantial change in due date from previous years, the faculty shall be notified in writing not less than 40 calendar days in advance.

2. Each faculty member shall submit merit materials to the department (or equivalent) office, on or before the due date. These materials shall include the document stating the goals and percent effort values for that faculty member. Each unit shall establish its own procedures for documentation of activities for merit.

3. The merit materials of each merit-eligible faculty member shall be evaluated by a department (or equivalent) merit review committee. In such cases where the faculty member has goals related to co-op integration, research and/or service, or interdisciplinary collaborations, the department evaluation chairperson shall solicit input from their co-researchers, community agencies, or appropriate individuals in co-op education. This committee must include at least two faculty members. If the department chair (or equivalent) is not one of the members of the committee, then the chair must conduct a separate review as part of the merit process. Each unit shall determine its own procedures for constituting this committee, and for the roles of the department chair and the School Dean in merit reviews.

4. Each unit shall have freedom to determine its specific procedures for merit evaluation, but generally speaking, evaluation shall correspond to one or the other of the following, or a combination:
a. The committee shall qualitatively evaluate goal achievement of each faculty member. On the basis of that assessment merit increases will be determined. Unit merit policies must be explicit and uniform, and include procedures for determining merit pay if a faculty member fails, in part or in full, to meet goals.
b. The committee shall generate a quantitative evaluation of each faculty member in each of the three areas of evaluation, and an overall evaluation in which the three individual evaluations are weighted according to the percent effort that was set in each area. Work surpassing the original effort goals for that year shall be rewarded as such in the merit review. The overall rating will be utilized to compute the merit pay increment according to explicit and uniform procedures.

5. The committee shall principally evaluate the quality of the faculty member's accomplishments in each area; quantity of effort shall be evaluated in terms of whether the previously-stated goals were met or exceeded in the context of the percent effort allocated to the particular area, and quantity shall not be rewarded in the absence of demonstrated quality. (For example, committee service with a large and positive impact should be evaluated as more important than simple membership on a large number of committees.)

6. The department chair or equivalent may determine that an individual faculty member's failure to fulfill responsibilities shall result in a reduction of merit pay, or, in the case of substantial or persistent failures, shall render that faculty member ineligible for merit pay that year. Such a determination must be based upon contractual responsibilities described in the appointment letter or annual renewal, individual faculty goals previously determined, or unjustified failure to submit merit materials by the due date, and must be fully documented. Any such decision shall be subject to the appeals process described in Section E.

7. Not more than 40 calendar days after the deadline for submission of materials, each faculty member shall be given a written evaluation, which at a minimum must include all of the following:
a. specific evaluation (with numerical scores where applicable) in each of the three areas of review, and an overall evaluation (or numerical score) for that faculty member,
b. a comparative or statistical representation (preserving confidentiality of individual ratings) of the distribution of ratings or scores throughout the department or unit,
c. specific comments regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty member's performance during the year under review from the committee justifying the evaluation that was made, and
d. specific comments providing constructive suggestions for future faculty development. A copy of this evaluation shall be placed in the faculty member's file.

8. The merit evaluation of each eligible faculty member shall be used to determine the merit pay increment for that year, according to explicit and uniform procedures in the unit. The pay increment shall be determined as a percentage of a faculty member's entire salary for the present year, including salary for work in excess of 39 weeks.

E. Appeals Procedure

1. Each faculty member shall have five working days after receiving the written evaluation to submit documentation for appeal. The faculty member will be provided the opportunity to meet with the persons responsible for the merit review, to discuss any concerns about the results of the review. This meeting shall take place within two weeks after the request is made. The committee shall respond to the faculty member within five working days after the meeting with the faculty member. In the event that the faculty member is not satisfied with the outcome of his/her appeal, he/she may pursue whatever rights are available in the Faculty Handbook.

F. Suggested Policy Development for Administrative Review

1. It is recommended that when a procedure is developed for review of the performance of department chairs and other administrators, faculty reaction to the proposed review procedures and criteria should be sought. (It is suggested also that the chair or equivalent shall be evaluated, in part, based on:

1.1. support of interdisciplinary goals,

2. success in achieving a fair balance between flexibility in individual faculty roles and the need to distribute workloads equitably among all faculty of the unit,

3. support for tenure-track faculty developing the credentials needed for tenure, and

4. support overall for all faculty in the unit.

G. Merit for Faculty on Sabbatical

1. As each unit (school, department, or program) develops its own specific procedures for unit and individual faculty goals and merit review, they must address how to deal with merit for faculty who are on sabbatical.

Back to top