Compensation Plan
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APSU Compensation Plan

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Introduction and background:

The APSU Compensation Ad hoc Committee (Appendix A), hereafter referred to as the Ad hoc Committee, was first convened in Spring 2014 and charged with helping the University plan for and prepare a new compensation plan for all faculty, support, professional and administrative employees of the University. The Ad hoc Committee met regularly to discuss concerns related to compensation and to solicit comments and ideas from the broad campus community through interactions with the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate and through various forums, and since then, the administration has occasionally convened an ad hoc committee to consider pertinent compensation issues. Last year, the Ad hoc Committee and APSU Senior Leadership Group (Appendix A), and President White reviewed the current compensation plan which was adopted in 2011 upon approval by the Tennessee Board of Regents, as well as information provided by an outside consultant. The document presented here incorporates information gathered from all of the above mentioned sources and provides a framework regarding Austin Peay State University employees’ position in the salary market and the principles that will help guide decision making on annual compensation growth.

Discussion related to the former compensation plan revealed many concerns. Among those were:

It was determined that the basic principles that should guide decision making are as follows:

Historically, funding for compensation growth has come from increasing the cost of tuition, enrollment growth, increases in state appropriations or from other revenue growth (e.g., development, grants, investments, etc.).  Nationally, state appropriations are becoming a smaller percentage of university operating budgets. In addition, APSU recognizes its obligation to control tuition cost so that a college degree and its benefits are accessible. Therefore, APSU cannot depend only on these sources to solve compensation challenges.  

To meet these challenges, APSU must rely on the broader strategy of enrollment growth enumerated in the APSU Strategic Plan 2015-2025.  Achievement of the targets outlined in this Compensation Plan is inextricably linked and dependent upon accomplishing enrollment and revenue goals within the timelines established in the APSU Strategic Plan.  Declining enrollment, reductions in state appropriations, or forced restraint on normal tuition cost growth are all barriers to APSU achieving the goals set out in this Compensation Plan.     


 Market data

Because APSU hires faculty and staff from a broad geographic area, salary data will be obtained from CUPA-HR or other sources using the peer comparators found in Appendix B. If salary data is not available for a position using the peer comparators, data may be obtained from a larger sample of institutions. Local market pricing, including Nashville, had been accounted for in the prior support staff pay ranges. The peer comparators used to obtain CUPA data are predominantly from markets smaller than Nashville. This results in lower salary medians that do not reflect the local salary market for support staff positions. Therefore, a “hold harmless” approach will be taken with regard to support staff salary medians, i.e., support staff salary medians will not be lowered based upon the change in CUPA comparators. The medians in effect for each position prior to the change to CUPA comparators, adjusted annually for increases to the cost of living, will be used until such a time that the salary medians are reflective of the local labor market. Faculty data will be obtained for the appropriate rank using CIP codes established by Academic Affairs. On July 1 of each year, new data will be applied to all filled positions. Salaries will be compared to the new market data. Any salary falling below the campus minimum or the entry point for the position will be considered for adjustment as funds become available.

Salary Comparison Group/Peer Comparators

The peer comparators identified in the previous compensation plan were selected using criteria such as: enrollment, tuition and Carnegie Classification. Peer comparators that were not in alignment with at least two criteria have been dropped. The proposed peer comparators are listed in Appendix B, and the additions and deletions are listed in Appendix C.

Hiring salaries

Managers will be responsible for negotiating a fair and market-based salary for new employees, in consultation with the unit head, i.e., vice president, executive director. Human Resources will provide a hiring range for new employees, which is defined as the range between the entry point (25% below the market median) and the market median for the position. Managers will consider market data, years of experience, unique and highly qualified skill sets, budgetary constraints and inversion and compression issues.  When negotiating a salary offer, if a manager determines that conditions warrant a salary offer above the market median he or she may request an exception from the unit head. 

Salary adjustments

APSU will prioritize annual salary adjustments, consisting of market adjustments and performance adjustments, as the critical milestones of growth identified in the Strategic Plan 2015-2025 are reached.  The primary objective is to achieve the salary median for each position. Funds may be applied as either, or a combination of, market adjustments or performance adjustments. The goal of market adjustments will be to reposition an employee or group of employees to a more positive placement in the salary market. The goal of performance adjustments will be to reward positive job performance demonstrated through evidence presented by managers. The President’s Council, with input from Faculty and Staff Senate leadership, will provide recommendations to the President when allocating available funds.  In making recommendations, the President’s Council will consider the following institutional values:

These values will be prioritized based on the needs of the university.

The pool of salary funds available for performance adjustments will be proportionally allocated to managers. Employees who are on probation or who have documented evidence of unsatisfactory performance will not be eligible for salary increases.

Revised, May 2017


Appendix A

Members of the 2015-2016 Compensation Ad hoc Committee



Senior Leadership


Appendix B

Peer comparators

Appendix C

Peer Comparator Additions and Deletions

 Institutions added to peer comparators

 Institutions removed from prior peer comparators




Please direct questions or comments regarding the proposed plan to: