Managing Pay

The Assistant Director of Compensation Programs is responsible for managing and overseeing pay decisions, in consultation with the appropriate vice president, dean, department head, manager and/or supervisor, based on available market data and internal equity.

Managers should consult with the Assistant Director of Compensation Programs for guidance on pay decisions for benefit-eligible, part-time and casual positions. Communicating pay decisions should not occur until after appropriate approvals have been received.

Starting Pay

Determining the appropriate starting salary for a new employee requires the consideration of a number of factors both in relation to the applicant and current position incumbents. Decisions will have to be made after a careful assessment of available information from interviews, reference checks, educational accomplishments, the pay of personnel in similar roles, etc. Starting salaries are based on candidates' job qualifications, work experience, salary history, and the market reference range for each position. Starting salaries typically fall within the minimum and midpoint of the salary range. In order to attract highly skilled and experienced performers or to respond to specific market conditions, however, exceptions may be made. Hiring managers must consult with the Assistant Director of Compensation Programs prior to discussing salary with prospective candidates and before extending a salary offer.

Living Wage Commitment

Washington and Lee is committed to paying starting wages at levels that are consistent with a living wage in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Based on living wage guidelines published by MIT (, we will set our lowest range minimum at a level which represents the rate an individual must earn to support a family with two adults and one child.  The Assistant Director of Compensation Programs will adjust market reference ranges annually in July based on overall market movement and changing living wage guidelines.

Supplemental Pay

Supplemental pay is additional pay for assuming temporary new duties/responsibilities in a higher career stage. Supplemental pay can be provided to an employee who is assigned different or additional duties and responsibilities on an interim basis for a limited period of time (i.e. assignment to a special project, reassignment during organizational changes, filling a vacant position, extended leave of another employee, etc.).

The amount of the adjustment will be determined by the Assistant Director of Compensation Programs or the vice president for Finance and Administration in consultation with the supervisor and the vice president or dean of the division. The adjustment will be based on the market reference range of the interim position, the responsibilities to be assumed by the employee, and the level of additional effort required. Once an employee is relieved of the additional responsibilities, the pay is returned to the original level (plus any annual salary increases the employee would have received). The job description of the higher-level position is used to specifically identify additional responsibilities.

Annual Salary Increases

Each year, as a part of the annual budget process, the Board of Trustees determines the staff salary increase pool.
Salary Pool increase decisions are based on two factors:

  1. An employee's overall performance
  2. Where an employee's current pay falls within the market reference range

Staff salary pool increases will be determined by managers, department heads, division heads, deans and vice presidents using Salary Increase Guidelines designed to reward performance and to begin to move employee pay to the appropriate position within the market reference range. Managers have the flexibility to determine an appropriate salary increase within the provided range as long as the departmental salary budget remains within established budget parameters.

The Guidelines suggest an appropriate range of salary pool increase possibilities based upon an employee's performance and the position of their pay within market reference range. The range of increase possibilities are designed to speed up salary growth for employees with performance scores considered "successful" but whose salary/rate is lower than the expected position within market reference range. Likewise, the guidelines will keep steady or slow down salary growth for employees whose salary is already at or above the appropriate position within the range based on performance. The Salary Increase Guidelines are published annually prior to the distribution of salary letters.

It is expected that as a result of solid performance, an employee will progress over time through the market reference range for their position. Market reference ranges provide the flexibility to reward different levels of individual development and performance, while assuring that individual pay is competitive for the level of performance delivered.

All continuing, non-faculty, benefit-eligible employees are eligible for an annual performance-based increase. Employees hired between July 1 and February 28 will be eligible for a prorated increase according to their date of hire. Employees who start work at W&L between March 1 and June 30 are not eligible for salary increases until the following year.

Managers/supervisors should ensure this is communicated to the employee at the time of hire. Individuals on extended leave without a performance review and individuals hired after August 1 have a shortened annual performance review period. Thus, the salary pool increase range for this group of employees has been designed to fall slightly below the salary pool due to reduced time in position.

Market Adjustments

The salary structure will be reviewed annually to ensure market competitiveness and internal equity. The Assistant Director of Compensation Programs regularly assesses the University's base salary levels relative to the defined market. Based on these findings, the Assistant Director may suggest market adjustments for select jobs and/or incumbents to better align these salaries to the market. This is most common when labor-market pressures force pay rates higher, resulting in new hires entering W&L at pay levels that aren't necessarily equitable with those of current incumbents, when comparing skills and competencies. These adjustments are typically based on the positioning of the salaries relative to the market and the University's budget. The Assistant Director of Compensation Programs makes recommendations for market adjustments, which are reviewed with vice presidents and deans and approved as a part of the annual staff-salary-increase process.

Annual Salary Letters

In coordination with the President of the University, the Assistant Director of Compensation Programs sends a letter to continuing employees each spring that states the new salary effective July 1. Letters are typically mailed in early June.