Middlebury Staff Compensation Administration

The Staff Compensation program provides a framework for the administration of staff salaries at both the College and at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.  The program serves as the foundation for ensuring consistent application of salary-related decisions that are both in alignment with Middlebury’s compensation philosophy and objectives and are in compliance with pay-related laws and regulations.


To fulfill its mission, Middlebury maintains a compensation program directed toward attracting, retaining, and rewarding a qualified and diverse workforce. While it is the combination of financial rewards such as: base pay, generous benefits and time off programs, professional development support, etc. as well as the intangible benefits such as work-life balance that make up total compensation, this policy describes only the staff base pay program.


Our staff compensation program is designed to balance and address several key objectives, including:

  • Maintaining external competitiveness –– our overall structure will maintain a competitive market position as measured by comparing salaries for benchmarked jobs against our defined labor markets.
  • Developing and maintaining compensation structures and strategies that respond to, and support, organizational priorities, changes, and needs.
  • Providing fair wages throughout an employee’s career and support of ongoing collaboration between managers and staff.
  • Setting salaries for new employees at levels that recognize individuals’ ownership and impact while considering the salary levels of current employees within the same and/or similar jobs or roles.
  • Reinforcing that all staff are valuable contributors to the mission of the organization.
  • Being transparent and understandable to all staff members.

It should be noted that a certain amount of salary variation is inherent in our system (as it is in most compensation systems).  The compensation program itself – and this policy – are designed to function as a framework establishing the parameters within which these individual salaries are administered.


Compensation Administration

Job Descriptions

The foundation of our staff compensation program is accurate and complete job descriptions; the responsibility for the creation and maintenance of job descriptions is shared between the manager, the employee, and Human Resources. Employees and managers are responsible for reviewing and updating descriptions to reflect current responsibilities. Human Resources is responsible for ensuring: the consistency of descriptions, appropriateness of titles as well as required education and experience, and compliance with regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Job Placement

Job descriptions are used to determine the primary focus of a job and to place it within our pay grade structure.  Job descriptions are reviewed by HR when new jobs are created and when there have been significant changes in the scope of the job. Human Resources is responsible for evaluating the correct placement of jobs within the compensation structure, taking into consideration input from the area manager(s) and (as applicable) employees.  It is important to understand that the comparison with market is based on the primary focus of the job and changing job titles, updating individual responsibilities, adjusting education/experience requirements in general will not impact the placement using market data.

Another important point to remember is that jobs are not reviewed according to the qualifications of the employee that happens to currently hold the job; job placements are based on the focus of the job and any job requirements, and these may differ from the qualifications of the current incumbent. 

Salary Structure

Each job is assigned to a grade within the structure, based on the median market rate of the benchmark jobs. Benchmark jobs are jobs within each pay grade that can be readily compared to the job market in terms of common characteristics, and for which market data is readily available in published market surveys. Our two pay grade structures consider geographic location. Current pay grade structures are posted on the HR website.

Middlebury Campus-Based Programs:  The standard Middlebury College pay range structure applies to most staff jobs at the undergraduate College and other College-based programs such as Bread Loaf, IPOCs, etc. 

MIIS Campus-Based Programs:  The standard MIIS structure (“C” grades) uses the Middlebury pay grade structure with a 15% increase for the geographical market difference.  This structure applies to most positions that are based at the Middlebury Institute and in Washington, D.C.

Currently the data on the external markets for benchmarked jobs is determined as follows:

  • The external market is measured against data collected from three primary sources –College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA) salary surveys (for higher education related jobs), Gallagher & Flynn’s Salary Survey (for non-higher-ed specific jobs) and Mercer.
  • Defined perimeters have been identified to ensure that we are using market data from comparable institutions. Those perimeters are operating expenses, student enrollment, geography, and affiliation.
  • Additional market information may be collected from other sources when data from primary sources is not available (generally only for highly specialized or technical jobs).
  • Salary surveys are conducted on an annual basis to consistently gauge our current position relative to the external market.

Each grade within a pay structure has a stated salary range minimum, midpoint, and maximum.  These pay grades are broad and overlapping to accommodate the market(s) for the varying jobs within each grade.

Salary Structure Ranges and Individual Salaries

Generally, all employees’ salaries are expected to be within their assigned grade ranges:

  • No employee will be paid below the minimum of the pay grade assigned to their job unless the employee does not meet the minimum requirements of the job and is temporarily in a “trainee” status. Employees with current and documented performance issues may not be eligible for increases when the salary structure moves, and so may be below minimum.
  • Placement within a grade range is managed with a skill matrix assessment focused on the impact and ownership shown by the employee in their role. Each staff member will progress through the stages in their career at a different pace and may stay in a given level for several years or indefinitely. There are four levels with the skill matrix: Learning, Growing, Thriving, and Leading. Grade minimums are tied to the Learning level and market medians are tied to the Thriving level.

It is important to emphasize that salary levels will be “capped” or “frozen” if an individual reaches the maximum of a pay grade.  The structure will be reviewed every year, so ranges may shift year over year.

Pay Practices

A number of events affect employee salaries; the most common events and related pay practices are described below.  It should be noted that the determination of most pay changes involves a skill matrix assessment by the employee’s management team and an internal equity check by Human Resources.  An internal equity check requires: consideration of the salaries of employees in similar/related jobs within the organization as well as the salary of the supervisor/manager, the salaries of any subordinate employees, and the salaries of employees in related career paths, and finally, the appropriateness of the proposed salary within the assigned grade range based on the employee’s career progression.

Starting Pay

Starting pay is the rate initially offered to an individual not currently employed by Middlebury. Starting salaries are set by Human Resources and are established after consulting with the hiring manager on the candidate’s skill matrix assessment. Discretionary adjustments up to $3,000 may be applied, in increments of $500, as long as doing so does not exceed the maximum for the grade range. 

Annual Increases

Annual increases are generally awarded on July 1 and are based on the external market, each employee’s career progression, and the College’s/Institute’s budgets, as approved by the Board of Trustees.

Generally, all employees are eligible for consideration for an annual adjustment, except that:

  • Employees who have given notice of resignation prior to the raise effective date, and whose termination date will be one month or less from the effective date of the annual increase (that is, those terminating prior to August 1st for a July 1st increase cycle), will not be eligible for an increase.
  • Employees with current documented unsatisfactory performance may not receive an increase.

Discretionary adjustments up to $3,000 may be applied, in increments of $500, as long as doing so does not exceed the maximum for the grade range.


A promotion is the movement of an employee to a different position in a higher pay grade. This movement is usually the result of the employee applying for and being selected for a position through the recruitment and selection process.

  • Human Resources will work with the hiring supervisor/manager to determine the appropriate promotional increase before the offer is made and before potential pay is discussed with the employee.
  • New salaries are set by Human Resources and are established after consulting with the hiring manager on the candidate’s skill matrix assessment but will not be less than the minimum or more than the maximum of the grade range assigned for the position.
  • Promotions will align to the overall structure and the new base salary will be set by assessment of where the new role falls within the grade structure, the career progression of the individual and discretion. In all cases an internal equity review will be conducted by Human Resources before a promotional increase amount is finalized. 

Discretionary adjustments up to $3,000 may be applied, in increments of $500, as long as doing so does not exceed the maximum for the grade range.


Reclassification occurs when the scope of a job changes significantly enough to change the grade to which a job is assigned (see Job Placement section for details).

Job description revisions are reviewed on a bi-annual cycle and are submitted by the manager.  A revised job description must be received in Human Resources by November 15 to be included in the review cycle for changes to be made effective January 1st. Revised job descriptions must be received in Human Resources by April 1 to be included in the review cycle for changes to be made effective July 1.  Human Resources will review the revised description. If no reclassification is warranted the updated description will be posted in the job description library.  If the changes are significant enough to result in a change of the grade and the area VP supports the reclassification, the request will be forwarded to the Ways and Means Committee for final review and decision. If the change is approved by the Ways and Means Committee then the appropriate salary change guidelines (promotion, lateral, demotion) will be followed to adjust incumbents’ salaries; pay changes will be effective either on January 1 or July 1 following the approval.

In-Grade Adjustments

An in-grade adjustment is a change to an employee’s base salary as a result of:

  • A permanent change in the scope of the job that does not change the pay grade of the job.
  • Market equity (this is most common when labor market pressures force pay rates for new hires up, resulting in inequitable pay between new and current incumbents when comparing ownership and impact).

Supervisors may request consideration for in-grade adjustments by submitting documentation supporting the request. Human Resource may also identify the need for equity adjustments based on market or internal salary studies.

It should be noted that in-range salary adjustments are not routine and will need to be fully justified.  Requests for in-grade adjustments must be made to, and approved by, the Compensation Specialist in conjunction with the area’s Human Resources Business Partner.

Discretionary adjustments up to $3,000 may be applied, in increments of $500, as long as doing so does not exceed the maximum for the grade range.

Lateral Transfers

A lateral transfer occurs when an employee moves to a different job within the same grade. Such transfers may occur through department reorganizations or when an employee seeks a transfer through the recruitment and selection process. The management team will assess the employee’s career progression in the skill matrix for their new position which will determine if an increase is warranted. Discretionary adjustments up to $3,000 may be applied, in increments of $500, as long as doing so does not exceed the maximum for the grade range. Jobs within the same grade are considered to be equivalent in terms of responsibility so employees who transfer laterally may receive no increase in base pay.


Demotions or grade downgrades are moves to a lower job classification and may occur as a result of:

  • An employee’s personal request (voluntary downgrade);
  • Documented inadequate job performance (demotion); or
  • Other reasons (for example when a function has become obsolete, and an employee is being moved to an available job at a lower-level job).

When a downgrade is voluntary Human Resources will determine the employee’s new salary based on an individual assessment of the facts and circumstances.  HR will take into consideration the employee’s career progression (in collaboration with the management team) relative to the new job and will conduct an internal equity review.

When a downgrade is involuntary Human Resources will determine the employee’s new salary based on an individual assessment of the facts and circumstances.  HR will take into consideration the employee’s career progression (in collaboration with the management team) relative to the new job and will conduct an internal equity review.

When a downgrade is due to a reassignment unrelated to the employee’s performance and not requested by the employee, Human Resources will determine the employee’s new salary based on an individual assessment of the facts and circumstances.  Generally, the employee’s salary will be maintained except when this causes significant internal equity concerns or when the salary would greatly exceed the range maximum.

Trainee Status and Pay

Generally, individuals who do not meet the minimum qualifications are not hired into an open job.  Very occasionally, however, there are extenuating circumstances which result in an individual being offered a job without having the minimum required certifications, education, skills, or experience.  This situation could arise as a result of a very tight labor market in which no fully qualified candidates have been identified, or when a departmental reorganization results in an existing employee being reassigned to an available job for which he or she is not completely qualified at time of assignment. Such arrangements must be approved in advance by Human Resources and will require a formal plan, including a specific timeline, outlining how the new employee will acquire the required skills, training, education, or experience.  In these situations, employees may be temporarily paid below the grade minimum; upon successful and documented attainment of the required qualifications the employee will be moved to the grade minimum.

Supplemental Pay

It should be noted that nearly all employees are expected to periodically fill in for colleagues’ vacations (or other short-term absences) as well as to perform special projects or temporary tasks; such work is considered a normal part of the job.  It is when a temporary assignment (i.e., assignment to a special project, reassignment during organizational changes, filling a vacant job, extended leave of another employee, etc.) is expected to exceed 60 calendar days that additional temporary compensation may be warranted.

Supplemental pay is additional pay for temporarily assuming significant additional duties/ responsibilities that typically would be in a higher pay grade for greater than a 60-day period.  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.

Supervisors/managers must receive approval from Human Resources for supplemental pay; supplemental pay should not be discussed with the employee until after appropriate approvals have been received.

Retroactive Adjustments

All salary increases will be made on a prospective basis; therefore, managers are encouraged to abide by the identified deadlines for any promotion requests or job description revisions.

Career Progression

The Staff Compensation Program, together with our internal job posting practices, is designed to be flexible and to afford employees multiple opportunities to advance their careers and their compensation.  It is up to each employee to work collaboratively with their manager and to take ownership of their own career and development plans to support their personal and departmental objectives, as well as the organization’s needs.  Employees interested in advancement opportunities are encouraged to regularly monitor the job posting site to look for promotional or lateral opportunities.   Employees are also strongly encouraged to build their employability by taking advantage of internal training offered by the organization and/or by accessing professional development or tuition reimbursement funds to support outside training or educational options.

However, in recognition of the fact that many employees enjoy their current jobs and are not interested in seeking additional responsibility, as well as of the fact that there will not always be available jobs at a higher level, the Staff Compensation program has established broad pay ranges which allow employees to remain in their current jobs while continuing to receive pay adjustments as the employee progresses within their career and/or as the market changes

Special Compensation Arrangements

Certain areas of the organization have worked with Human Resources to establish special compensation arrangements such as: trainee wage scales (which are described in more detail in other sections of this document) and pay adjustments for additional demanding duties.  Details about these arrangements are available from the authorized departments or Human Resources.


Exceptions to the standard compensation guidelines must be approved by the VP of Human Resources and Chief People Officer, whose decision is final.


Responsibilities for Maintaining the Program

Human Resources:

  • Administers and interprets compensation philosophy and policies:
    • Calculates all pay adjustments
    • Calculates all new hire salary offers
    • Administers the annual increase process
  • Monitors and evaluates compensation administration practices to ensure adherence to Federal and State laws/regulations and Middlebury’s compensation philosophy.
  • Conducts annual external market reviews including comprehensive system-wide checks as well as job or department specific checks, as needed. 
  • Periodically reports compensation-related statistics to senior management.
  • Monitors our various job markets and the effectiveness of our compensation policies and practices and makes recommendations for changes to senior management.
  • Assists with the creation of job descriptions.

Determines the placement of jobs within the grade structure


  • Consults with HR in the planning stages of organizational changes which have the potential to impact classification and/or compensation of current employees.
  • Ensures that job descriptions are kept up to date.
  • Provides input into departmental factors that should be considered when calculating hiring salaries, promotional increases, etc.


  • Notifies supervisor/manager of significant changes in scope of work (if supervisor/manager is not already aware of these changes).
  • If requested, assists in the creation or revision of the job description.
  • Reports any suspected pay errors or discrepancies to Human Resources immediately.