Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Eligibility

(1)   Why does the Step Plus Proposal refer to reviews at 2, 3 and 4-year intervals?

Within the professorial title series, the normative review cycle is 2 years for the assistant and associate levels. After associate step 4, the review cycle occurs every 3 years.  At the professor level, the normative review cycle is 3 years up to step 9 and then the review cycle occurs every 4 years.  At every review the individual may be considered for more than 1 step (1.5 or 2 steps).

(2)   Is a merit increase of 0.5 part of the Step Plus system?

During a variety of discussions across campus, it was determined that the option for 0.5 step increase is not supported at this time.  The 0.5 step option is not part of the Step Plus System.

(3)   I have a faculty member who was denied a two-year acceleration in time in 2013-2014.  Is this person able to come up again next year under guideline B (iii) that governs denials?  Or would the  person have to wait until the normative year for the next merit action, which (if I am correct) would be 15/16?

The faculty member has the option of pursuing a one-year accelerated merit in 2014-2015 under the Phased Implementation of the Step Plus System.  The faculty member may only pursue an acceleration in time to whole steps and is not eligible for consideration of a half-step and is not eligible to receive a Step Plus Supplement.  If the faculty member waits until normative time in 2015-2016, the faculty member may be considered for a greater-than-one-step increase and, if approved, would receive a Step Plus Supplement.

(4)   With respect to the fixed/normative review period, will the law school’s “Acting Professor” designation be treated the same as “Assistant/Associate Professor” designation, and thus provided a normative review period of two years? 

Yes, this is correct.

(5)   Does the new, normative period of three years begin from a candidate’s last advancement? For instance, will a faculty member who received her last advancement effective July 1, 2013 (assume she is a “full” professor) go up for her next advancement—if any—effective July 1, 2016? For another example, will a faculty member who received her last advancement effective July 1, 2014 (again, assume she is a “full” professor) go up for her next advancement—if any—effective July 1, 2017? 

Yes, this is correct.  Please note that normative time at step is different at the various ranks and steps.  Please see APM 220-18.  The normative time at each step can also be found on the new Step Plus System Salary Tables.

(6)   Does Step Plus change the process for Career Equity Review (CER)? More specifically, can a candidate request a CER coincident with a merit/promotion if the candidate’s surplus is less than one full step (in light of the half-step option under normal review)? Or must the surplus be at least one full step, as under the current system?

The half-step option is not available under the Step Plus System.  The Step Plus System does not change the process for Career Equity Review.  However, if a professor is pursuing a merit from Professor Step 3 to Professor Step 4, they may submit a CER to request additional adjustment by a whole or half-step, so long as the merit increase is at least one whole step (e.g., adjustment to Step 4.5 or 5 would be acceptable considerations for a CER accompanying a merit from Step 3 to Step 4). 

(7)   Is the Professor of Clinical __ (aka: “Clinical X”) title eligible for the Step Plus System?

Yes, the payroll title Professor of Clinical__ is eligible.  The Professor of Clinical__ is also referred to as “Professor of Clinical X’ or “Clinical X.” 

(8) **REVISED** Are promotions allowed to accelerate in time and accelerate in step?

No. For example, promotions to Associate and Full Professor can be accelerated in time or can be evaluated according to Step Plus guidelines, but not both. A promotion action that is “accelerated in time” is one for which the candidate is seeking advancement early, without waiting normative time at the current step. “Accelerations in time” should not be confused with on-time Step Plus advancements of more than one step. For example, a 2.0 Step Plus advancement at normative time is not considered an “acceleration in time”, even though a full step has been skipped.

(9)   What is the review period for the first merit after a lateral promotion? 

The review period begins with merit advancement to the overlapping step in the previous rank. 

For example:

    • A professor advances to Assistant Professor, Step 5 effective 7/1/15.  The review period for this action was most likely 7/1/12-6/30/14.
    • Then, in 2015-2016, this Assistant Professor successfully pursues a lateral promotion to Associate Professor, Step 1 effective 7/1/16.  The review period for this action is since terminal degree. 
    • According to APM 220-18-b, time spent at these overlapping steps is “combined”.  Since normative time at these steps is 2 years, this Associate Professor is eligible for Step Plus merit advancement effective 7/1/17.  In this scenario, the review period for the merit from Associate Professor, Step 1 is 7/1/14-6/30/16. 

Note: Policy does allow an alternative review period method with an end date of 12/31.  The review period may be 1/1/15-12/31/16 if the period of 7/1/14-12/31/14 was counted for the merit to Assistant Professor, Step 5.

(10) **REVISED** Since "accelerations in time" are allowed for promotions, can a faculty member pursue a skip-a-step promotion?

No. A dossier that is being evaluated for a promotion that is accelerated in time (i.e., an “early” promotion that occurs before normative time has elapsed for the next eligible action) will not be considered or approved for advancement of more than one step. 

(11) Can a faculty member retain two supplements if they first received a greater-than-one-step merit followed by a promotion that is "accelerated in time" that results in an "acceleration in step"?  Example:

  • An Associate Professor receives a normal merit from Associate 2 to Associate 3.5 effective 7/1/15. She will receive the supplement from 7/1/15-6/30/17, because this is normal time at Associate 3.5 and the merit was greater-than-one-step. 
  • Her normal promotion would be to Full Professor 1.5 effective 7/1/17.  Because accelerations in time are allowed for promotions under the Step Plus System, this Associate Professor pursues promotion to Full Professor 2.0 in 2015-2016, for an effective date of 7/1/16. This is a greater-than-one-step promotion that is also an “acceleration in time”. 
  • If the promotion is approved, would this Professor get the supplement for the Full Professor 2.0 for the normal period of time (7/1/16‐6/30/19) as well as retain the remainder of the supplement awarded for Associate Professor 3.5 (7/1/15-6/30/17)?

No, dual supplement payment is not allowed.  The second supplement replaces the existing one and is in effect for normative time at the newly achieved step.

Federation

(12)  Will Academic Federation members move into the Step Plus System?

The current Step Plus System affects only Academic Senate titles. The Academic Federation will review the Step Plus System for its members.  If Step Plus is adopted for Federation titles, Criteria for Advancement will need to be developed for all series. 

(13) I am a Specialist in Cooperative Extension and considering pursuing a merit that is accelerated in time in 2014-2015.  However, I would wait to pursue the action under Step Plus in my normal year if I knew that Step Plus is going to be implemented for the Federation titles.  What should I do? 

The Federation Committees will be charged with the same challenges as the Senate series with regard to implementation of the Step Plus program.  These types of situations will need to be considered in the implementation of Step Plus, especially if a phased implementation program is established.

General

(14)  We understand that the rate of advancement under Step Plus “should be at least as rapid as in our current system, provided that a 1.5 step merit is viewed by faculty as requiring substantially the same record as a well-justified one-year acceleration under our current system.” What procedures, if any, will be instituted to measure the relative pace of advancements going forward compared to (i) historical rates and (ii) other UC campuses? 

The Davis Division of the Academic Senate will review the impact of the Step Plus System. The current proposal is to review two years following implementation to assure the desired efficiency and efficacy is achieved. Evaluating the relative pace of advancement compared to historical rates would be one measure by which we could assess that the personnel process remained effective.

(15)  If a candidate went up for a 1.5 step merit and only received 1, would the candidate be able to appeal?

Yes.  In the Step Plus system the faculty are still requesting an action and if the decision is less than what was requested, they have the right to appeal.  The appeal process is available here: http://academicsenate.ucdavis.edu/local_resources/docs/committees/cap/CAPAC-Appeal-Process.pdf.

(16)  If a faculty member receives a greater-than-one-step advancement under the Step Plus System and later requests a postponement, does the supplement get extended? 

The supplement is awarded only for the period of normative time at the step, so cannot be extended beyond normal time.  The supplement is technically a “bonus” to make up for the fact that we did not allow the faculty member to accelerate in time.  Any extension to the supplement would result in over-payment to the faculty member.

(17)  Why isn't there a Step 1.5 at the Assistant ranks?

There is no Step 1.5 because half-step merits are not an option.  Example: if someone is hired at Step 1, their only option is to merit to Step 2, 2.5, etc.  There was no business reason to include step 1.5 because it would cause confusion since it is not an option.

(18)  Do the responsibilities of the Faculty Personnel Committees (FPC) change under the Step Plus System?

The role of the college and school FPCs does not change. The Academic Senate will conduct a review of the FPC role during 2014-2015. Changes may be proposed by the Academic Senate in the future.

(19)  What happens if the department recommends a 1.5 step increase, but the FPC does not support the 1.5 increase?

The Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) recommendation is advisory to the dean.  The dean may still approve a 1.5 step increase if the dean feels the record merits a 1.5 step increase.  The dean also has the option to approve a 1.0 step increase.  The FPC and/or the dean may also recommend a 2.0 step increase. 

(20)  What happens if a faculty member is eligible for a merit in 2014-2015 and chooses to defer? 

The faculty member continues to be eligible for a merit every year thereafter until they positively advance to the next step.  Upon advancement, the normative time clock starts over. 

Example: Professor, Step 2.0 last advanced effective 7/1/2012.  If this professor requests a deferral of the 2014-2015 normal action, he is eligible for advancement in 2015-2016.  If the professor requests a deferral of the 2015-2016 merit, this professor is required to submit either a merit or undergo a Five-Year review in 2016-2017.  If the professor advances to Professor, Step 3.0 or higher effective 7/1/2017, his next regular merit review will be in 2019-2020. 

(21)  What does it mean that a faculty member may not be considered for an “acceleration in time” that is evaluated under the Step Plus System? 

The faculty member may only be considered for an action to a whole step if the action is “accelerated in time” (i.e., Professor 2->3 or Professor 2->4).  The faculty member is not eligible to receive the supplement if the result of the “acceleration in time” is a two-step increase (Professor 2->4).  The faculty member also is not evaluated using the more liberal interpretation of advancement under Step Plus.  Under Step Plus, someone could receive a 2.0 step increase if the teaching/service is outstanding and the research is strong but not outstanding. 

(22)  If a faculty member is pursuing an action in normal time, can they opt out of Step Plus? 

No. Every action that is reviewed in normal time, or following a deferral or five-year review, is to be evaluated using the Step Plus system.

(23) Multiple comments and questions were received from faculty contemplating the impact of the Step Plus Proposal on retirement plans. 

Two scenarios were created in an effort to address these questions, available at: http://academicaffairs.ucdavis.edu/policies/step-plus/retirement-scenarios.html

(24) #11 of the Key Features of Step Plus states:  “As with the previous system, first actions since appointment or promotion may go directly to the Dean for decision without FPC review.”  Does this statement hold true if the proposed merit is a 1.5 step increase?

Yes, the dean also has the authority to award a 1.5-step merit in the case of a first action after appointment or promotion and FPC consultation is optional. However, if the Dean disagrees with the department, then the case should be sent to the FPC. Reminder: if the first merit after appointment crosses a barrier step, the action is non-redelegated.

Voting/Action Selection

(25)  What should the department letter recommend if the candidate requests an advancement that is clearly not supported by the faculty vote? In addition, what kind of language should Department Chairs use when writing a department letter under such circumstances?

The departmental letter should only reflect the department’s response to the candidate’s dossier. The following language is offered as an example of how to capture the department recommendation in the department letter:

“The department of ABC recommends that Professor XYZ receive a merit increase/advancement from Professor, Step M to Professor, Step N, effective July 1, 20xx. The details of the departmental vote are summarized below.”

The candidate’s right to request an action is fulfilled when she/he prepares the candidate statement and chooses whether or not to request a specific step.

(26)  Do department voting procedures need to change under the Step Plus System?

Departments select their own voting procedures and processes. The Committee on Academic Personnel reviews proposed changes in procedures for conformity to Senate Bylaw 55, but those changes most often address the issue of which department members are eligible to vote on which academic personnel actions.

Under the previous system, department faculty expressed support for a colleague's proposed acceleration by voting "YES" on a dossier that is submitted in advance of the normative review interval. Under the Step Plus System, all merits will be reviewed at the normative interval, and so departments will need to consider how they wish to express support (or the lack thereof) for a merit of greater than one step (i.e., an acceleration in performance/step, rather than an acceleration in time).

(27)  Who decides how many steps the candidate will advance?

All packets will be considered for accelerated action at each review by the Department.  Following review, the Department will vote on whether a 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0 step advancement will be recommended.

(28)  Who decides who goes up for promotion?

A faculty member can come up for promotion when they are ready or when they feel that their record supports the action.  Assistant professors must promote no later than their seventh year, unless they received an extension on the clock under the Work Life Program.

(29)  How should the department handle support for a barrier step under Step Plus? 

Example 1: A professor is eligible for a normal merit from Step 8.  The review period for this action is since merit to Step 8 (three years).  However, the ballot would be prepared for:

Step 8->9 (one-step),

Step 8->9.5 (one-and-one-half step), and

Step 8->AS (two-step). 

If the result of the department vote is supportive of the Above Scale action, a new dossier will need to be prepared that includes the entire review period (since promotion to full) and extramural letters will need to be obtained.  Then, the department will need to revote on the new dossier.

 

Example 2: A professor is eligible for a normal merit from Step 4.  The review period for this action is since merit to Step 4 (three years).  However, the ballot would be prepared for:

Step 4->5 (one-step),

Step 4->5.5 (one-and-one-half step), and

Step 4->6 (two-step).

If the result of the department vote is supportive of the Step 6 action, a new dossier will need to be prepared that includes the entire review period (since promotion to full).  Then, the department will need to revote on the new dossier.

(30)  An Associate Professor, Step 3 is eligible for promotion to the full rank. The choices are 1 step, 1.5 steps, 2 steps, no, and abstain. What does 1 step mean – Associate Professor, Step 4 or full Professor, Step 1?

In this situation, it will be critical for the department chair to consult with the candidate to discuss advancement options and the merits of the case. If both the promotion and merit options are to be considered, the faculty must be informed explicitly whether they are voting on promotion or on a merit. If the faculty are voting on a promotion from Associate Professor, Step 3, an increase of 1.0 step would result in a proposed promotion to Professor, Step 1.  If the faculty do not support a promotion, then a separate vote would need to be recorded  on a merit increase. Departments may consider designing a special ballot with more options for this situation, so long as its format is consistent with the more typical department ballot.

(31) An Assistant Professor, Step 5 is up for promotion at year 7. One option is normally a lateral promotion to Associate Professor, Step 1. How is this indicated on a ballot?

It is a good idea to add a lateral promotion as an option when a faculty member previously merited to an overlapping step.  The ballot may look like the following…

    • 2.0 step promotion (Associate Prof, Step 3)  
    • 1.5 step promotion (Associate Prof, Step 2.5)
    • 1.0 step promotion (Associate Prof, Step 2)
    • Lateral Promotion (Associate Prof, Step 1)
    • No support
    • Abstain

Note: Associate Professor, Step 1.5 is not a promotion option as an increase of 0.5 steps is not an option under Step Plus.  There is a guide to promotions and the role of overlapping steps available at: http://academicaffairs.ucdavis.edu/policies/step-plus/guide-for-step-plus-promotions.html

(32)**REVISED** We have a faculty member at Assistant Professor, Step 3 (or Associate Professor Step 2.0) who wants to pursue a promotion action. Is this allowed?

Candidates at Assistant rank, Steps 1.0-3.5 and Associate rank, Steps 1.0-2.5 are not eligible for promotions that are accelerated in time. Occasionally, there may be a case where an Assistant Professor, Step 3 or an Associate Professor, Step 2 may seek advancement after spending normative time (2 years) at their current step.

Promotion eligibility when a candidate HAS spent normative time at their current step:

Promotion from Assistant to Associate Rank

PROPOSED ADVANCEMENT

Assoc 1

Assoc 1.5

Assoc 2

Assoc 2.5

Assoc 3

Assoc 3.5

Assoc 4

Assoc 4.5

 

 

CURRENT

Candidate
HAS
spent
normative
time at
step

Asst 3

2.0 step

Asst 3.5

1.5 step

2.0 step

Asst 4

1.0 step

1.5 step

2.0 step

Asst 4.5

1.0 step

1.5 step

2.0 step

Asst 5

1.0 step 1.5 step 2.0 step

Asst 5.5

1.0 step 1.5 step 2.0 step

Asst 6

1.0 step 1.5 step 2.0 step

Asst 6.5

1.0 step

1.5 step

2.0 step


Promotion from Associate to Full Rank

PROPOSED ADVANCEMENT

Full 1

Full 1.5

Full 2

Full 2.5

Full 3

Full 3.5

Full 4

Full 4.5

 

 

CURRENT

Candidate
HAS
spent
normative
time at
step

Assoc 2

2.0 step

Assoc 2.5

1.5 step

2.0 step

Assoc 3

1.0 step

1.5 step

2.0 step

Assoc 3.5

1.0 step

1.5 step

2.0 step

Assoc 4

1.0 step 1.5 step 2.0 step

Assoc 4.5

1.0 step 1.5 step 2.0 step

Assoc 5

1.0 step 1.5 step 2.0 step

Assoc 5.5

1.0 step

1.5 step

2.0 step

We have determined our Assistant Professor, Step 3 has spent normative time at their current step. How should the department vote?

If the candidate has spent normative time at Assistant Professor, Step 3 (or Associate Professor, Step 2) the action is NOT considered an acceleration in time, and should be reviewed following Step Plus guidelines. The department should vote on all possible outcomes:

1. 2.0-step promotion to Associate Professor, Step 1
2. 2.0-step merit to Assistant Professor, Step 5
3. 1.5-step merit to Assistant Professor, Step 4.5
4. 1.0-step merit to Assistant Professor, Step 4
5. No advancement
6. Abstain

What if the Assistant Professor, Step 3 in question has not spent normative at their current step?

Candidates can request an early promotion without waiting for normative time at their current step, but there will be only two possible advancement outcomes: promotion to the lateral step, if applicable, or 1.0-step promotion.

Promotion eligibility when a candidate HAS NOT spent normative time at their current step:

Promotion from Assistant to Associate Rank

PROPOSED ADVANCEMENT

Assoc 1

Assoc 1.5

Assoc 2

Assoc 2.5

Assoc 3

Assoc 3.5

Assoc 4

Assoc 4.5

 

 

CURRENT

Candidate
HAS NOT
spent
normative
time at
step

Asst 3

Not eligible for promotion

Asst 3.5

Not eligible for promotion

Asst 4

1.0 step

Asst 4.5

1.0 step

Asst 5

Lateral 1.0 step

Asst 5.5

Lateral 1.0 step

Asst 6

Lateral 1.0 step

Asst 6.5

Lateral

1.0 step


Promotion from Associate to Full Rank

PROPOSED ADVANCEMENT

Full 1

Full 1.5

Full 2

Full 2.5

Full 3

Full 3.5

Full 4

Full 4.5

 

 

CURRENT

Candidate
HAS NOT
spent
normative
time at
step

Assoc 2

Not eligible for promotion

Assoc 2.5

Not eligible for promotion

Assoc 3

1.0 step

Assoc 3.5

1.0 step

Assoc 4

Lateral 1.0 step

Assoc 4.5

Lateral 1.0 step

Assoc 5

Lateral 1.0 step

Assoc 5.5

Lateral

1.0 step


Exception:
Candidates who have been at the Assistant rank for 7 years and must be considered for promotion before normative time has elapsed at the current step (a “technical acceleration”) may still be considered for Step Plus, and the department should vote on all possible outcomes.

Please refer to Advisory #AA2016-09 for more information.

(33)  Should we require an explanation for a “no” vote on 1.5 steps and 2.0 steps, or just in the case where the regular merit is not supported?

Only when casting a “no” vote is an explanation required. However, faculty members should be able to add comments whenever they support or do not support any type of action.

(34)  When does the chair consult with the candidate? 

In some circumstances (e.g. Question #27, above), it will be important for the Chair to discuss voting options with the candidate before the department vote. However, we generally recommend that voting faculty should be given the opportunity to vote on all common options under Step Plus (0, 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 steps). Prior to the faculty vote, the candidate prepares the Candidate’s Statement to make their best case for the action they think they deserve. The department letter should make a recommendation based on the vote and post-vote consultation between the Chair and the candidate.

(35)  What if only half the voting faculty support a 2.0 step merit increase?  As chair, what advice do I give to the candidate? 

In scenarios like this, we would encourage faculty to pursue the 2.0 step merit increase.  The chair can remind the candidate that either a 1.5-step increase or a 2.0-step increase represents an excellent outcome! 

(36)  What is the role of the faculty member in terms of their willingness to self-promote or their tolerance for risk?

The department voters will have access to the record, including the candidate’s statement, in which the candidate should make his or her case for an action felt to be deserved. The department letter must recommend an action based on the vote. If the vote is divided and does not clearly imply a single recommendation, the candidate’s preference and discussion with the chair can play a significant role in the recommendation. 

(37)  Does the candidate choose in advance what the faculty will vote on in the department? 

This is determined by department practice.  However, to be consistent with the aims of the Senate’s Step Plus resolution, we recommend that each department adopt a ballot that captures most options under Step Plus (2.0-step advancement, 1.5-step advancement, 1.0-step advancement, no advancement, or abstention).  Ballots that list all options and ask each voter to select the advancement option that is most appropriate allow the department faculty to vote only once and also ensures that acceleration is considered for every dossier. 

(38)  Can the department recommend retroactive under Step Plus? 

No.  All reviewers and decision-makers shall evaluate the case using the Step Plus system and consider the candidate for a merit of greater than one step rather than recommending retroactive advancement. 

(39)  How do joint department recommendations work? 

Just as in the previous system, the joint department may make a recommendation that differs from that of the home department.  However, the joint department recommendation is advisory to the home department’s, and all departmental recommendations are advisory to future reviewers and decision-makers.

(40) **NEW** As a member of a review committee (such as an FPC or CAP), what do I do with regards to department-level voting on actions that may or may not come to my committee for review? 

The FPC or CAP member shall vote only once, and that member shall decide if that will be at the department level or the FPC/CAP level, on a case-by-case basis. If the FPC or CAP member votes at the department level on a particular action, then the member cannot vote at the FPC or CAP level on that action, but can still participate in the committee discussion. If the FPC or CAP member chooses to recuse themselves from voting at the department level, it is possible that this member will not have the opportunity to vote on the action, depending on the outcome of the home and joint department recommendations.

Departments may choose to allow CAP members to vote on the 1.0- and 1.5-step advancement options, with the expectation that they will recuse themselves from voting on a 2.0-step advancement. FPC members could be allowed to vote on the 2.0-step advancement with the expectation that they recuse themselves from the 1.0- and 1.5-step advancement options. When this occurs, the department letter should clearly identify abstentions that apply to a specific advancement option.

(41) **NEW** How does the candidate’s advancement selection on the “Notification of advancement eligibility for Academic Federation ” impact (a) the recommendation on the Action Form, and (b) the department vote?

This form should not influence the department vote regardless of what the candidate elects to pursue. Once the candidate has made a selection, the department must vote on all Step Plus advancement options, and the voting results are included in the department letter. However, if the candidate elected to pursue only 1.0 step on the notification of eligibility, the department letter recommendation must be for 1.0 step only. The department letter should also explain that the 1.0 step recommendation is driven by the candidate’s selection, due to funding availability. The action form “proposed status” section should also reflect a 1.0 if this is what the candidate has selected.

(42) **NEW** Can the candidate still pursue advancement even if the department majority votes against advancement? What is entered as the proposed step on the Action Form?

After the results of the department vote are shared with the candidate, the candidate retains the option to pursue the action even if advancement is not supported by the majority of department voters. In this case, the Action Form should be presented as a 1.0-step advancement. Alternatively, the candidate may defer consideration for advancement by requesting a deferral, unless policy requires promotion or five-year review.


 

Questions received during the review by the Davis Representative Assembly of the Academic Senate may be viewed on the Senate page at: http://academicsenate.ucdavis.edu/divisional-resources/Frequently%20Asked%20Questions.html