PTR Merit Scheme

PDAD&C #44, 2001-2002


TO:   Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs
FROM:   Adel Sedra, Vice-President and Provost
DATE:   March 22, 2002
RE:   PTR/Merit Scheme

This is an annual updated reissue of PDAD&C #191, April 21, 1994.
Changes made this year are shown in red.


The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify and provide guidance concerning the administration of the PTR scheme to ensure that the career progress of faculty members and librarians is recognized and enhanced and to ensure that meritorious performance is appropriately recognized.

As the University strives to improve its standing amongst the best research universities in the world, one of the most effective tools it has is the compensation scheme for faculty members and librarians. The recognition of each individual's contribution to teaching, research and service is critical to the PTR scheme which is founded on the following principles:

  1. The progress-through-the-ranks scheme is the only source of promotional increases for faculty members and librarians but it is based on the assumption that each individual's rate of promotion is a function of that individual's MERIT.
  2. While there is a career path for a hypothetical `typical' faculty member or librarian, no two individuals are alike. Some careers will progress rapidly and hence will merit high PTR awards, and some careers will not progress and hence will merit no PTR awards.

The Evaluation Process

It is important to ensure that the evaluation process for PTR awards is clearly understood. This means both that the procedures used to arrive at a judgement about each individual's PTR award are set out publicly and that each individual understands the nature of the merit-driven career progress scheme.

The Annual Activity Report

The evaluation of an individual's performance requires that the activities of the individual be fully set out. This is the responsibility of the faculty member or librarian although heads of academic units must provide guidance on what should appropriately be included in the Annual Activity Report, which is the traditional method of reporting one's achievements. Each division should review the format of the activity report to ensure that it provides the relevant information to make a judgement about the career progress of the individual.

The activity report should be more than just a listing of the research and scholarship, teaching and service contributions. In assembling the information for the activity report, individuals should be clear on the changes in activity from the previous year and asked to articulate the progress made in the year on work-in-progress if it has not appeared in the year. Opportunity should also be provided for the individual to comment on the significance of his or her activities, especially where an entry in the report may not be clear as to its significance. The report may be supplemented with other evidence of the significance of the activities such as reviews of monographs or other recognition. In many divisions individuals have a well-developed research plan that may have been part of a grant submission. Information from this plan may also be relevant to assessing progress in research. In fields that have traditionally not had such research plans consideration should be given to asking the individual for information on the direction of his or her research.

It is the responsibility of each individual to provide annually the activity report and an updated C.V. The Policy on Conflict-of-Interest for Academic Staff which was approved by Governing Council in June, 1994 also requires that as part of the Annual Activity Report, every faculty member submit a `Paid Activities Report'. Normally, no PTR award should be given if the individual has not supplied the appropriate information.

Statement of Procedure and the Use of Committees

Each unit should prepare a brief statement outlining the procedure to be followed for the evaluation of PTR. The statement should set out any advisory committees used and their membership, the relative weight of the various activities of teaching, research and service, the form of the activity report, as well as any unique aspects of the evaluation process for the unit.

The making of PTR recommendations is the responsibility of the Dean or Chair/Director. This responsibility cannot be delegated; however, advice can be sought from individuals in the unit. Consideration should be given to the use of an advisory committee(s) to review the activity reports. Advice from the committee(s) should evaluate performance and should not relate to the actual dollar awards which is the responsibility of the Dean or Chair/Director.

The Balance of Teaching, Research and Service

The PTR scheme has allowed flexibility in each unit as to the balance amongst the three principal components of a faculty member's activities: teaching, research and service. This flexibility is important in recognizing unique missions in local units and the differences in agreed upon activities of individuals. In the normal case, the portion of the total PTR allocated to teaching and research should be approximately equal. There should also be a service component as part of the normal activity of an individual. It is important that the unit's normal expectation as to the balance be communicated to each individual.

Point Systems and The Evaluation

Some units have employed a ten point scheme as a model based on four points for teaching, four points for research and two for service. This will be varied for faculty holding appointment as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer (and/or Tutor/Senior Tutor) [1] and for Librarians whose individual components will be different.

While a point scheme has a number of positive aspects there has been some untoward effects of the scheme on awards. An `arithmetic' evaluation that leads to a `positive' score if an individual is not meeting his or her responsibilities is inappropriate. There have been instances in the past where, in the application of a departmental scheme, the range of points awarded have not used the full scale of 0 to 4. In these cases teaching, in particular, has been evaluated using only values between 2 and 4. An award of 2 out of 4 for teaching, which is barely acceptable by the standards of the unit, would be an inappropriate evaluation and would thus be inconsistent with the PTR scheme, which is intended to recognize and reward career progress. While a score of zero points is expected to be rare, use of the full 0 to 4 scale is equally as appropriate in the evaluation of teaching as it is in the evaluation of research. It is important to use the full range of valuations so that the application of the scale does not inadvertently bias the recognition of one activity over another.

While point schemes are useful indicators, they should not replace the judgement of the Dean or Chair/Director on the overall performance of the individual. If a point system is used, it should be indicative of a relative level of performance not an absolute value that is translated arithmetically into the PTR award.

The PTR Judgement

It is recognized that the vast majority of individuals are fulfilling their responsibilities and, as a consequence, their careers should advance. Such individuals whose careers are progressing will have consistently contributed to the advancement of the field, will have contributed by teaching at a high level and will have served the University and the broader community. Only the salaries of outstanding individuals, however, will be much higher than the threshold of the Senior Salary category.

Research and Scholarship

Each member of the professoriate should be engaged in research and scholarship. Hence advancement of the field as is demonstrated by publications or other appropriate forms should be the basis of a PTR award. In circumstances where there is a pattern over time during which there has been no publication but only work in progress, the unit head should request a copy of the work in progress with the changes for the year clearly indicated.


The development and delivery of graduate and undergraduate courses, the evaluation and supervision of students and the holding of consultations are part of the responsibilities of all members of the professorial staff. The teaching responsibilities of Lecturers/Senior Lecturers (and/or Tutors/Senior Tutors) are normally confined to undergraduates. Divisions and departments should recognize in PTR awards contributions such as the development of new courses or programs, contributions towards the development of a new curriculum, the integration of research into undergraduate and graduate teaching or superior performance as measured through such mechanisms as the course evaluation. Teaching should not be confined just to the classroom or laboratory. Recognition of the larger role of the teacher should be reflected in the assessment of PTR. Teaching may occur as well in other departments.


A contribution to service is expected of each individual. The type and extent of the service obligation will clearly vary considerably from individual to individual. Service takes many forms and includes contributions to collegiality at the departmental level or in one of the University's Colleges, contributions to the teaching or scholarship of others or the many services necessary to keeping an academic unit flourishing. It also may include service to the Faculty Association, to professional societies directly related to the faculty member's discipline, continuing education activities, work with professional, technical or scholarly organizations or scholarly publications, and membership on or service to governmental committees and commissions. Outside activities are not meant to include general service to the community unrelated to the faculty member's scholarly or teaching activities. If there is any doubt as to the individual's expectation, the head of the unit should establish with each individual an appropriate level of contribution. It should be clear to each individual that she or he has a responsibility to contribute and that this responsibility is not dependent on whether or not the individual has been requested to serve.

Research and Study Leave

Individuals who are on research and study leaves should be evaluated in reference to the standards applicable to research, or in the case of study leave to the standard relevant to the leave. As a research and study leave plan has been approved for each individual an evaluation should take into account the degree to which the objectives of the plan have been realized or where the objectives have changed during the course of research, the degree to which the research has advanced.

Excellent Performance: The 5% Merit Pool

The recognition of the most outstanding individuals in each unit is critical to ensure that the University meets its objectives and that each faculty member and librarian is rewarded for his or her accomplishments. The funds in the 5% Merit Pool shall be used only to reward those colleagues who have demonstrated that they are leaders in their field or who have made an outstanding contribution. A second use of the pool relates to the allocation of PTR in small groups. Where there are fewer than six individuals in a pool of academic staff members, the unit head may apply for a portion of the 5% merit pool money to reward exceptional merit. Individuals recommended for the 5% Merit Pool should have received an assessment in the local unit that would place their PTR at or near the top of the unit. Each recommendation should specify clearly the outstanding contribution to the field or to teaching. Each multi-departmental unit has in place procedures for the application for awards from the 5% Merit Pool. In single department Faculties application is made to the Provost. The 5% Merit Pool does not include those in the Senior Salary Category.

Senior Salary Category

Professorial staff whose June 30, 2002 salary is equal to or greater than $115,150 are in the "senior salary" category and for purposes of salary increases, are treated differently from all other professorial staff [2]. Whether or not there is an across-the-board increase in any year for other members of the professorial staff, the salary increases for individuals in this group are based solely on merit, are completely discretionary and the actual value of the award is recommended by the Provost to the President and approved by the Senior Salary Committee which consists of the Chair of Governing Council, the Vice-Chair of Governing Council, the Chair of the Business Board, a second member of the Business Board, an alumni Governor and the President.

ln multi-departmental units, evaluations of professorial staff in the "senior salary" category are carried out by Chairs/Directors and forwarded to their Dean or Principal. Deans/Principals then consider these evaluations on a Faculty-wide basis and make recommendations to the Provost. In non-departmental Faculties, the relevant Dean or Director performs the evaluation and makes recommendations to the Provost. Principals and Deans are encouraged to use advisory committees in their senior salary evaluation process (see above section on Statement of Procedure and the Use of Committees).

The recommendations for individuals in this group are in terms of an assessment of the individual's performance during the past year in the following categories: superior; surpasses expectations; achieves expectations (plus); achieves expectations; achieves expectations (minus); below expectations; unsatisfactory.

Superior - a truly outstanding level of accomplishment in the past year which is exceptional even within the Senior Salary Group.

Surpasses Expectations - an extremely strong academic performer in the past year who has provided a role model for colleagues in all areas.

Achieves Expectations - performed very well in all areas in the past year as is to be expected of members of the Senior Salary Group; or performed extremely strongly in some areas, but not as well in others. The category Achieves Expectations may be subdivided into Achieves Expectations (plus), Achieves Expectations and Achieves Expectations (minus).

Below Expectations - active, but performance in the past year was in some respect below the very good level which is to be expected of a member of the Senior Salary Group, e.g. performance is not consistent or is weaker than is appropriate in some areas.

Unsatisfactory - performance is below the very good level to be expected of a member of the Senior Salary Group and may be of serious concern; a review of status needs to be undertaken.

Please note that the category "Achieves Expectations" reflects the very good level of performance which is to be expected of members of the Senior Salary group. It therefore follows that this rating category will be the most frequently used.

There are several reasons for the special treatment of faculty members in the senior salary category. In the first place, whether or not the salary increases for academic staff have an across-the-board component, increases for all individuals in this category are based exclusively on merit. Secondly, it enables the division heads in multi-departmental units and the Provost, for the University at large, to compare the performance of individuals across academic units. This provides a basis for establishing a sense of University standards which may then help to formulate each unit's standards.


Administrative Follow-up


Letters must be sent to each individual articulating the judgement underlying the award. The letter should provide appropriate detail of the individual's performance. In some cases, the assessment should also be related to the individual's career development. In addition to the specifics of the individual award, the annual salary increase letter should include the appropriate histogram.

In the past, the communication to the individual who is performing well has often been compromised by a sense that an "average" award was a signal that the individual was not meeting expectations. This is clearly not the message that needs to be communicated. Language should be used that locates the PTR award in reference to expectations of the unit and that makes clear that an individual who receives an award that is close to the amount that the scheme generates for that individual's category is in fact progressing well through his or her career.

Individuals Not Meeting Expectations

The PTR review will help to identify those individuals with problems in their career development. For individuals who have been identified as having difficulties, and especially for anyone awarded a zero in research or teaching, the head of the unit should arrange a meeting. For example, research, teaching and service are expected of each member of the professoriate. The University believes that members of the professoriate should continue to be active in each area. In a limited number of cases, an argument might be made that an atypical weighting of activities that reflects a different balance between teaching and research for the individual concerned is appropriate. A change of the balance in duties requires the approval of the Chair and of the division head. Such an adjustment must be made at least a year in advance of the application of a modified weighting of responsibilities to the person's Annual Activity Report. In no circumstances should an individual be fully relieved of teaching or research activities. For example, on a 4-4-2 scale, an adjustment to 6-2-2 would be possible, but a greater imbalance should not occur. There should also be a service component for each individual. Such arrangements should be for a fixed period with a review of their appropriateness at the end of the period.

The Provost's Review

While there is no precise distribution of PTR awards that is given for any one unit, the expectation of the scheme across all units is to have a variance in the PTR awards reflecting differentials in performance. A typical large department might have a distribution with a small number of individuals whose careers are not progressing and hence have received no PTR, a larger group whose performance shows meritorious progress and a cohort who are performing at a high level. It is the last group that will be affected by the allocation of the 5% Merit Pool.

I intend to review each divisional histogram with you to ensure that the PTR scheme is working and to understand any individual variances in each division. The division head in each of the multi-departmental faculties should undertake a similar review.

[1] Effective July 1, 1999, the Lecturer/Senior Lecturer category replaced Tutor/Senior Tutor under the revised Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments for new appointments in the teaching stream. Those who were currently in the Tutor/Senior Tutor category could choose the new Lecturer/Senior Lecturer stream or remain as Tutors/Senior Tutors. The compensation scheme for both groups is the same.

[2] The senior salary threshold for Lecturers/Senior Lecturers (and/or Tutors/Senior Tutors) is $87,750 and for Librarians is $89,700.