The Catholic University of America


Mission | Administrative Guidelines | Salary Structures | History | Resources



In January 2003, a committee was formed under the direction of the President of CUA, the Very Rev. David O'Connell, to develop and implement a staff compensation program for the University. The goals of the initiative were to:

Create a salary structure based on market data that would provide the foundation for applying consistent recruitment strategies in hiring qualified employees to support the University's strategic plan;
Ensure positions are valued in relation to other positions on campus, thus eliminating discrepancy in salaries being paid for similar type jobs; and
Provide all employees with clear expectations of responsibilities through written job descriptions.

The committee's goals were integrally tied to the University's Philosophy on Human Resources Management, which includes a philosophy on compensation. This compensation philosophy states that the University is committed to "recognizing and appreciating the work of employees through a fair and equitable compensation program, taking into account the University's budget constraints, while offering benefits which reflect the institution's Catholic identity." 

The compensation committee consisted of a broad cross-section of university employees, who were selected by the President to ensure fair representation from each administrative area on campus. To assist with the project, the University retained the services of Mercer Human Resources consulting, a recognized leader in the development of pay systems for higher education institutions.

Data Collection

Before establishing a compensation structure, it was essential to determine the work that was assigned to and performed by existing positions at the University. Using the Job Description Questionnaire (see below for forms and instructions), supervisors and employees worked together to furnish the committee with this information. The following downloadable/printable forms and documents were used to aid employees and their supervisors in the data collection effort.

Memo to Supervisors

Sent to supervisors on March 3, 2003, this memo defined the role of CUA supervisors in the compensation study.

Instructions for Completing Questionnaires

These instructions provided detailed information on the steps required to complete the Job Description Questionnaires.

Job Description Questionnaire

A questionnaire was required to be completed by supervisors for all positions at the University, regardless of whether or not they were filled at the time of the study. When the questionnaire was completed for a particular position, the supervisor and employee currently working in that position reviewed and signed the questionnaire.

SAMPLE Job Description Questionnaire

This sample questionnaire was completed for a typical administrative assistant position and was provided as a reference for all university positions.


Data Analysis

The compensation committee worked with Mercer Human Resource Consulting to select benchmark jobs and determine market pay for those positions. The "market" for CUA was defined by gathering data from national, regional, and higher education compensation surveys. Next, the committee analyzed all existing CUA staff positions against benchmark jobs based on six pre-defined elements. Those were:

1. Required knowledge, skills and experience
2. Complexity and conceptual thinking
3. Decision making authority (autonomy)
4. Required interpersonal skills
5. Supervisory/Management level
6. Impact on CUA's strategic plan

Positions were reviewed by each committee member and were evaluated as being on the same salary level as the benchmark position, or as being either one level above or one level below the selected benchmark position.



Following the data collection and analysis efforts, the compensation committee determined that maintaining a market based, yet internally equitable salary structure can be difficult since these priorities are often in direct conflict with each other. Basic supply and demand pressures can create economic forces that result in higher compensation for employees in certain fields in comparison to individuals with greater job responsibilities in another field. For example, during the technology "boom" of the 1990s, computer programmers were able to demand higher salaries than some managers in other industries. To address these often conflicting priorities, the compensation committee developed three (3) salary structures that would account for varied market conditions and would also meet their goal of establishing a market based pay program/structure that is both fair - based on market data - and equitable. To view the three compensation structures that were developed by the committee, please click here.


Communication History

The following letters and presentations will give you insight into the history, purpose and goals of the compensation study.

Letter from the President

The Very Rev. David O'Connell, President of CUA, launched the initiative to establish a compensation structure that is fair and equitable for all CUA staff. Originally sent to all CUA staff and staff supervisors January 28, 2003, this letter outlines the purpose of the compensation study and explains both why we need a compensation program and who will be affected by it.

Compensation Study Article from Inside CUA Online

An article covering the February 12th Compensation Study Town Hall meeting was published in the March 5th edition of Inside CUA Online. The article provides a brief overview of the Town Hall meeting and addresses employees' concerns and Compensation Team members' answers to those concerns.

Town Hall Meeting Presentation

On February 12, employees were invited to attend a Town Hall meeting to learn more about the compensation study. Led by Chuck Mann, Associate Vice President for Business Services and the chair of the Compensation Study Committee, the Town Hall Meeting Presentation provided in-depth information on what a compensation program is, why the university needs one, and who will be affected by it.

Memo to Supervisors

Sent to supervisors on March 3, 2003, this memo defined the role of CUA supervisors in the compensation study.

HR Realignment Presentation

The Compensation Study was created as a fundamental part of the Human Resources Realignment project. The HR Realignment project was launched with the recognition that human capital is the University's greatest asset, and that by developing, cultivating, investing in and managing its human capital, CUA will further itself as a leader in higher Catholic education and research. This presentation was presented to and approved by the President's Council, providing the foundation for the current Compensation Study.


Compensation Study Timeline

October 2002

Human Resources Realignment Project and Compensation Analysis Study presented to the President's Council.

December 2002

Funding for the Human Resources Realignment Project and Compensation Analysis Study approved by the President's Council.

January 2003

Compensation study announced to University community by the Very Rev. David O'Connell, the President of CUA. Compensation Analysis Committee met with Mercer Consulting to outline a project schedule and discuss desired goals.

February 12, 2003

Town Hall meeting held in Caldwell Hall. Chuck Mann, Associate V.P. for Business Services and chair of the Compensation Team, shared the purpose and goals of the study. Employees were given a chance to ask questions and voice their concerns during a question/answer period.

March 3, 2003

Job Description Questionnaires distributed to all CUA supervisors. Questionnaires are to be completed by supervisors and their employees and returned to the Office of Human Resources in 170 Leahy Hall by Friday, March 28, 2003.

April 16, 2003

Completed Job Description Questionnaires collected from CUA by Mercer Human Resources consulting.

April-August 2003

Analysis of Job Description Questionnaires conducted by the compensation committee with assistance from Mercer Human Resources consulting services. Information provided on the questionnaires by CUA supervisors and staff allowed the committee to compare CUA jobs with similar jobs on a national and regional level, as well as with similar jobs from comparable Catholic and other higher education institutions. The analysis of this data provided the foundation for the University's compensation structure, ensuring that it is fair, equitable, and best suited to support CUA's mission of excellence as a leader in Catholic higher education.

September 2003

Finalization of compensation structures.

November 2003

Compensation committee's recommendations submitted to and approved by the President's council and the CUA Budget Committee. Implementation is approved to begin at the start of fiscal year 2005 (May 1, 2004).

February 2004

Compensation program announced to the university community by the President, the Very Rev. David O'Connell. Newly created positions will be incorporated into the new compensation structure beginning immediately.

May 2004

Implementation of compensation program begins. All existing CUA positions are integrated into the appropriate compensation structure.