Step Plus System

Staircase in Shields Library

Beginning in 2012, a series of three workgroups of UC Davis faculty, administration and staff reviewed ways to streamline the personnel process: the Academic Senate Taskforce on Simplifying the Academic Personnel Process (STAPP), the Academic Personnel Streamlining Implementation Workgroup (APSIW), and the Joint Senate-Administration Workgroup on Step Plus Policies and Procedures (SAWSPPP). Reports from these groups may be found in the Historical Documentation. These deliberations have resulted in a series of recommendations that will streamline and enhance the personnel process. The Step Plus System will allow the campus to realize a significant reduction in the number of personnel actions per year, thus saving staff and faculty time. Step Plus also allows evaluations to be done based on a more complete and consistent time window, and increases the likelihood that deserving candidates who have not historically put forward their dossiers for accelerated review will benefit from their excellent performance. 

For all of these reasons the Step Plus system, as described below, was implemented effective July 1, 2014 and adopted immediately for personnel actions in the Senate titles of Professor, Professor in Residence, Professor of Clinical__, and Acting Professor of Law. On June 15th, 2015, the Academic Federation (AF) voted to implement the new Step Plus System for the following title series: Adjunct Professor, Agronomist in the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), Specialist in Cooperative Extension (CE), Health Sciences Clinical Professor, Professional Researcher, Project Scientist, and Specialist.

 Overview of the Step Plus System for Personnel Actions

A. Normative schedule. All merits are considered on a fixed two-, three- or four- year schedule, as determined by normative time at their current rank and step. Normative time is defined in APM 220-18 and can also be found on the Step Plus System Salary scales . At every review, the individual may be considered for more than one step, i.e. 1.5 steps, 2 steps, etc. (Guidelines for Advancements)

B. As with the previous system, the following four categories of actions are allowed at any time: (The actions listed below are not limited to the times specified in Paragraph A.)

i) Accelerations in time are permitted for promotions to Associate and Full ranks. Advancement to Step 6, or equivalent step, and to Above Scale, like other merits, will be considered on the fixed three- or four-year schedule.

ii) After a deferral, the individual may come up the next year.

iii) After a denial, the individual may come up the next year.

iv) After a five-year review, the individual may come up the next year if the five-year review did not result in advancement.


Phased Implementation of the Step Plus System for Senate Series Only

To ease the transition to Step Plus, Senate title candidates have the option to request an action that is an “acceleration in time” under the previous rules for their first action during the first three years of the Step Plus System.  This applies to the following titles series: Senate titles of Professor, Professor in Residence, Professor of Clinical__, and Acting Professor of Law. The 2016-2017 academic review cycle will be the last year of the phased implementation of the Step Plus System.  This means:

  • The faculty member may not pursue a merit in 2014-2015 followed by an “acceleration in time” in 2015-2016 or 2016-2017.  This phased implementation allows for an “acceleration in time” only for the first action pursued from 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017. 
  • A faculty member may request an “acceleration in time” from one whole step to another whole step. 
  • If the faculty member pursues and receives an “acceleration in time” that skips a step to another whole step (i.e., from Step 2 to Step 4), the faculty member is not eligible for the supplement that would have been received if they pursued the same action at normative time.
  • If a faculty member who last advanced effective 7/1/2014 pursued a 2-year “acceleration in time” in 2014-2015 that resulted in a denial, the faculty member is not eligible to pursue a merit again until 2016-2017 in normative time.  Meaning, they are not eligible to try for a 1-year “acceleration in time” in 2015-2016.  Example: A Professor merited from Professor Step 3 to Professor Step 4 effective 7/1/2014.  In 2014-2015, this professor pursued a 2-year acceleration in time to Professor Step 5 and it is denied.  This professor is not eligible for another merit review until normative time in 2016-2017. 

Action Form for Step Plus

The Action Form should now reflect, as the default action type, a 1.0-step advancement for all actions during the initial department review and vote. This is also true for Above Scale actions (see first Above Scale formula at; after which Above Scale actions of 1.0-step = 5% salary increase).

Reminder: If the action is an Endowed Chair/Professorship Appointment/Reappointment or a Department Chair Five-Year Review, the current and proposed status on the Action Form should be the same rank and step.

  • If the candidate’s advancement eligibility (up to 2.0 steps) could potentially cross a promotion/barrier step, the department should prepare the dossier matching the longest potential review period. If advancement to promotion or a barrier step would require extramural letters, the candidate must be consulted regarding soliciting extramural letters. The actual solicitation of letters can be delayed until after the initial department vote. However, if any of the recommending bodies (department, FPC or dean) makes a recommendation for an advancement that requires extramural letters (promotion or crossing a barrier step), additional review and voting are required after receipt of the extramural letters.
  • In the case of an evenly split vote, the highest step supported by at least half of the voters shall be the
    department recommendation.
  • Although this practice should not be encouraged, the candidate may make the case for a particular advancement (1.0, 1.5, or 2.0 steps) in their candidate’s statement. However, this request per se does not affect either the Action Form or Delegation of Authority.
  • 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.
  • The primary department should update the proposed status on the Action Form to reflect the highest advancement recommendation from any of the candidate’s departments (home department, secondary department, etc.). The proposed action then determines the delegation of authority (see delegation discussion below). If the action is an Above Scale merit, please include the rate of the proposed action (1.0-, 1.5- or 2.0-step advancement) in the field “Rank and Title” under the Proposed Status in the Action Form.

Delegation of Authority Guidance

The Delegation of Authority for the action should be updated by the primary department after the recommendation(s) of the department(s) is/are received. The Delegation of Authority may also be changed after receipt of the recommendation(s) from the Faculty Personnel Committee(s)(FPC) and/or dean(s). To determine the delegation of authority, see and use the following guidance:

  • If none of the reviewing bodies (departments, FPC or deans) supports more than either a 1.0- step or 1.5-step advancement, and that highest supported advancement action is redelegated, then select “Redelegated” as the delegation of authority. If this redelegated action is the first action after appointment or promotion, the dean has decision authority and FPC review is optional.
  • If any department recommends a 2.0-step advancement or an action that is a promotion or merit that crosses a barrier step, the action is entered as “non-redelegated”. This applies to any primary or joint department(s) recommendation(s). Depending on how the dossier was prepared or if the barrier step requires extramural letters, the action may need to be returned to the primary department for possible dossier changes and new vote(s)/recommendation(s) from all departments.
  • If the FPC, primary dean, or joint dean makes a recommendation for a 2.0-step advancement or an action that crosses a barrier step, the action becomes non-redelegated. Depending on how the dossier was prepared or if the barrier step requires extramural letters, the action may need to be returned to the department level for possible dossier changes and new vote(s)/recommendation(s).