School of Nursing: Policy On Faculty Salary


School of Nursing: Policy On Faculty Salary

Unit Policy



The purpose of this policy is to outline benchmarks used to determine faculty salary goals/ranges and how actual salaries are determined for new and existing faculty.

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to School of Nursing permanent faculty members.


Salary Policies: Initial Determination of Salary, Market Salary Increases and Merit Awards

Benchmark Nursing Faculty Salaries

School of Nursing salary goals are derived from benchmarks with peer schools of nursing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) publishes an annual report on faculty salaries based on a yearly survey of all schools of nursing with baccalaureate and higher degree programs. Faculty salary data are reported for regions of the country and types of institution, and by faculty rank, credentials, and tenure vs. fixed term track status.

Among the AACN categories, we use, when available, data that is segmented for Institutions with an Academic Health Center / Research Intensive University. In these categories, we use the 75th percentile as the benchmark salary for fixed term and tenure track faculty. Benchmark salaries are described by rank, track, and degree status.

Periodically, other markets are surveyed for comparison with faculty salaries and AACN benchmark salaries. Other markets may include the University (Academic Affairs and Health Affairs), other universities considered peer institutions by UNC-Chapel Hill, and the clinical and administrative salaries for equivalently prepared nurses in non-university settings

It is important to note that benchmark salaries are targets or salary levels the School aspires for its faculty. The extent to which actual salaries reach benchmark salaries is dependent on the amount of salary increase funds appropriated by the legislature each year as well as salary adjustment restrictions/opportunities established by the General Administration, University, or Board of Governors. Over time, the goal is to bring faculty salaries to benchmark levels and beyond. Ultimately the spread of salaries should recognize meritorious performance and cumulative record of productivity. Benchmark salaries are used to determine salary offers for new faculty and annual market increases, merit awards, promotions in rank) pre-emptive retention adjustments, and competitive retention adjustments.

Salary Offers to New Faculty

New salary offers are based on consideration of individual qualifications and market factors. Individual qualifications include educational preparation, years and type of experience, and cumulative record of productivity and accomplishment in the areas of teaching, research and service relative to rank, appointment type and/or position. Market factors include scarcity of needed specialty, diversity, and prevailing salary scales.

Based on the above factors and rank at initial appointment, the dean, associate dean for administrative services, and the direct supervisor identify the salary offer. If current faculty salaries in a given rank are at benchmark levels, then a new faculty member being appointed to the same rank is offered a benchmark salary at the appropriate range for that rank. If current faculty salaries in a given rank fall short of benchmark salaries, then the salary offered to a new faculty member being appointed to the same rank will take into consideration SON peer salaries as well as market demand.

Salary inequities will occur when new faculty are hired at higher salaries than current faculty, given equivalent qualifications and records of accomplishment. There are, however, instances when it is necessary to bring in new faculty at salary levels higher than those of current faculty. Whenever this occurs, market salary increases (as described below) are given high priority in the following years in order to reduce the disparity in salaries between newly hired and longer-term faculty with equivalent qualifications and records of accomplishment.

Annual Salary Increases for Faculty

Merit Awards

The purpose of the School of Nursing merit review system is to provide a systematic, consistent approach to review of faculty for merit. Merit review should result in support and reinforcement of faculty contributions to the mission of the School, reward strong performance and encourage continuing faculty development and improvement.

Goals are established annually with academic division associate deans (or associate dean for research in the case of research fixed term faculty) and must be relevant to expectations at faculty rank, reflect faculty's own advancement preferences, and be consistent with the mission and needs of the school. Those faculty members who meet or exceed performance expectations are eligible for a merit increase. Those who do not meet performance expectations are not eligible for a merit increase.

Faculty members are reviewed annually for performance. Faculty members submit updated curriculum vitae, a self-assessment, and teaching evaluations to direct supervisors, who review the materials submitted and make a recommendation to the dean regarding meritorious performance. Factors considered in evaluations include teaching evaluations, research activities, grant awards, other scholarly productivity, and service to the school, university, profession, and lay communities. For faculty with practice contracts, evaluations from their practice setting supervisors and/or peers are considered as well. Direct supervisor feedback regarding merit eligibility should be shared with faculty members during face-to-face annual performance reviews.

Direct supervisors meet with the dean or executive dean/associate dean for academic affairs to assure consistency across divisions in appraisal of performance and in allocation of merit. The Associate Dean for Research, who serves as division head for research fixed term faculty, will meet with the Dean separately to discuss the performance of fixed term research faculty and establish a merit allocation that is in alignment with the scaling deployed when establishing merit across the academic divisions. (Note: since research fixed term faculty members frequently have their first academic home in another School, their merit allocation will typically be determined by their primary appointing School with the associate dean for research offering input.)

Each year that funds are available to make faculty salary adjustments, all salaries will be reviewed for alignment between performance relative to peers and level of pay relative to peers.

Market Increases

Market salary adjustments are allocated to bring faculty salaries to or closer to benchmark salaries and to minimize salary compression. When the dean and direct supervisors meet for the purpose of salary adjustments, each faculty member's actual salary will be compared to the School's benchmark salaries and, based on the faculty member's cumulative performance assessment, a market salary increase is recommended when realignment is needed. From time to time, especially after a period of no or low salary adjustments, the dean will establish a 'floor' (e.g., the 50th percentile based on rank, tenure/fixed term, and education level) and make every effort to move salaries towards that established floor.

Distribution of Market Salary Increase and Merit Award Funds

Funds appropriated by the legislature for salary increases are rarely sufficient to make all deserved market increases and merit awards. The policy of the faculty and administration is that the floor salary should not fall below the 50th percentile of peer schools. Beyond that consideration, the funds available are allocated for both market increases and merit awards. The dean makes the final decision about how money will be allotted to market and merit adjustments and communicates the amounts of salary increases in merit and market categories to individual faculty members by letter once approval to release the information is obtained from the university.

Competitive Offers

Faculty members receiving a competitive offer may bring that offer to the dean for consideration of a competitive retention offer. The dean will check with the faculty member's direct supervisor regarding their endorsement of whether to address that offer. From time to time, a faculty member may make a stellar contribution that would make that individual highly attractive to other institutions. The dean may make a pre-emptive salary adjustment with the goal of retention of the faculty member. The chair will be consulted as to whether making such a preemptive offer is warranted.

Concerns and Appeals

Faculty members may express concern regarding their salary with their direct supervisor and/or with the dean directly. An elected faculty salary policy committee, chaired by the faculty chair, is available to faculty members who believe the above processes were not applied fairly in determination of their raises.



Contact Information

Policy Contact

Lisa Miller, Associate Dean Administrative Services

Other Contacts


Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: 3/1996
  • Last reviewed by Leadership Team: 10/2021

Approved by:

Lisa Miller

Associate Dean Administrative Services


Article ID: 132376
Thu 4/8/21 9:30 PM
Fri 2/10/23 1:07 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
11/04/2021 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Associate Dean, Administrative Services
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
02/10/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
11/04/2021 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
02/10/2026 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
03/01/1996 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
School of Nursing