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March 22, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY


Draft salary structure added to staff compensation program

Ithaca College is planning to add a new draft salary structure to ensure the college’s staff salaries are competitive with those of other institutions. The addition is part of the review of the college’s staff compensation program.

Cindy Reckdenwald, executive director of total rewards and workforce strategy in the Department of Human Resources, said the college is working with Sibson Consulting on the draft salary structure, which is expected to be added by the middle of the spring semester.

Reckdenwald said Sibson is currently working on the first phase of the project, which deals with adjusting staff salaries. This phase should be finished by early spring, Reckdenwald said. The second phase of the project will consist of changing job titles to make them consistent with what the positions currently do. She said the college is unsure when the second phase will be completed.

The company is re-evaluating titles such as assistant director, associate director, specialist and assistant to increase efficiency and to ensure staff members have the proper job descriptions. Reckdenwald said the college assesses its competitiveness with other institutions at least every 10 years, in regard to compensation, to make sure they are up to date with current trends and technology.

After the last review was completed 10 years ago it led to staff retirements and job cuts. In 2009, the college lost staff members to a reorganization that occurred from the previous Sibson review. Most recently, 59 staff positions were cut over 29 departments through the workforce analysis initiative that ran from August 2013 to January 2016.

Reckdenwald said that when this review was done previously, Sibson took a look at job descriptions and how to keep them updated.

“We didn’t have the technology we have now, where we could maintain job descriptions online and have them updated as often as they needed to be,” Reckdenwald said. “So we had to start there to get our compensation program reviewed. We had to go through and make sure every job description was up to date.”

Reckdenwald said the new salary draft structure will address many areas around staff salaries besides just how much staff gets paid.

“It’s all of the guidelines around how you administer pay for staff,” Reckdenwald said. “So what are the policies and procedures around promotions, career paths, career ladders? How do we develop those and what kinds of salary adjustments happen if someone is promoted? We’re placing all our positions into a salary structure.”

Nancy Pierce, administrative assistant in the Department of Biology, said the compensation offered by the college has affected the retention of staff members. From Fall 2012 to Fall 2017, the number of staff at the college decreased from 1,085 to 1,001 according to the college’s website.

“I know there’s been quite a lot of people I know that have moved because they wanted to get someplace that was a different atmosphere and higher pay, so it’s definitely an important fact for people,” Pierce said. “It’s better to have retention than keep hiring new people, so it’s nice that they’re trying to figure out what people want.”

Reckdenwald said retention is not currently an issue, but the college is always aware it might become a problem in the future.

“Retention is always important to us and that people feel like they’re valued and that we’re paying them appropriately for the work we are asking them to do,” Reckdenwald said. “We don’t want it to ever become an issue.”

Judith Andrew, music acquisitions and cataloging specialist in the Ithaca College Library, said she hopes her salary is competitive with other colleges so she knows she is getting compensated fairly.

“Of course I would like to know if my salary is on par with similar positions in similar libraries on similar campuses,” Andrew said. “Obviously salary is high on the priorities list for all of us, especially when we see the cost of living rising, so we’re all keeping an eye on what this study says.”

Douglas Blakely, instrument technician and building manager in the School of Music, said he has been treated fairly, but that he thinks the college does not know how to compensate its various specialists.

“I’ve always felt that they don’t understand my particular job because we have many specialized people in the school,” Blakely said. “As far as I know, there are five to 10 people in the country that do what I do, so how do you adjust compensation for similar jobs when there are so few that could be hired?”

Sam Haut can be reached at or via Twitter: @@SamZHaut