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Faculty Bonus Award

  • Responsible Office: Faculty Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Current Approved Version: 03/09/2020
  • Policy Type: Administrative

Policy Statement and Purpose

This policy provides the means for recognition and financial reward for Virginia Commonwealth University faculty members. Bonuses may be awarded to full-time faculty members (tenured, tenure eligible, term and clinical faculty) whose performance exceeds the normal expectations and requirements for their positions or for superior accomplishments or achievements.

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Who Should Know This Policy

All faculty and all university administrators responsible for faculty human resources administration should know this policy and familiarize themselves with its contents and provisions.


There are no definitions associated with this policy.


The Office of the Provost officially interprets this policy. The Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to the senior vice provost for faculty affairs.

Policy Specifics and Procedures

Bonuses are one-time, lump-sum awards for exceptional performance beyond the prescribed expectations of a faculty member’s duties. They may be awarded for overall exceptional performance or superior accomplishments. Bonuses are a means to acknowledge excellence, not reward longevity. Merely achieving one’s annual objectives or “doing a very good job,” while certainly commendable, are not examples of the exceptional performance or the superior achievement that should be rewarded with a bonus.

Bonus awards may be any dollar amount. The dollar amount, within the authorized limits, will be at the discretion of the department head, dean, and vice president. Each vice president must approve all bonus awards. Bonus awards for faculty positions that report directly to a vice president require approval by the president. 

A.   Eligibility Requirements

A faculty member may be recommended for a bonus award if they meet all of all of the following criteria:

1.   Achieved a minimum of a satisfactory performance evaluation for the most recent academic year.

2.   Employed within the department awarding the bonus for at least one year.

3.   Exceptional performance beyond documented expectations of faculty member’s position, such as:

• Provides substantial contribution to the fulfillment of goals and objectives of the university, office of the dean, or department.

• Provides creative, innovative ideas or solutions using strategies, which increase efficiency and the effective use of resources or which strengthen the image of the university.

• Demonstrates outstanding results in the areas of teaching, research, and/or service.

B.   Parameters

Eligible Faculty

All full-time faculty are eligible for a bonus award.

Frequency of Bonus Award

Faculty may be eligible for a bonus award only once each fiscal year (July through June). Faculty members may receive bonus awards in consecutive years. There are no limits on the number of years a faculty member may receive a bonus award. The receipt of a bonus award in one year does not guarantee or imply any subsequent bonus awards.

Timing of Bonus Award

Faculty bonus awards shall normally coincide with the university’s faculty merit and bonus award process. If no salary increases are scheduled, the bonus may still be awarded with approval of the vice president, or president as applicable.

Bonus Award

The bonus award is defined as compensation and not a fringe benefit. The award will be made in a single installment and will not increase a faculty member’s university base salary. The bonus award will be taxable as supplemental income.


No central funding will be provided for bonus awards. It is the responsibility of the individual unit/department/school/college to fund bonus awards. Sources of funding for bonus awards must be approved by the appropriate vice president. 

Bonus Award Plan

Each school or unit must develop and maintain an approved bonus award plan in order to recommend bonus payments for faculty. The plans must be approved by the applicable dean or unit head and vice president. Deans or unit heads are responsible for communicating the bonus plans to all faculty in their school or unit.


The president or vice president, as applicable, may approve individual exceptions to the policy to meet the changing needs of the university. In addition, nothing in this policy shall preclude the president or vice president, as applicable, from rescinding a faculty bonus before it is awarded if the university discovers the faculty member violated law or university policy.

C.   Procedures

Faculty bonuses are to be recommended during the faculty merit and bonus award process (the “On-Cycle” bonus award process). When the university implements a faculty merit and bonus award process (contingent upon funding), instructions for awarding bonuses will be provided by the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. If a bonus is recommended outside of the faculty merit and bonus award process, the bonus can be initiated as an “Off-Cycle” request in the university’s compensation management system. (Instructions for using this module are located on the Faculty HR website.) This request is usually initiated by the respective department chair/director (or designee, as applicable) and submitted to the respective dean/unit head for review who, upon approval, submits the request to the respective Senior VP for final approval. If the faculty member is a direct report to a vice president, the off-cycle bonus requires approval by the president.

Upon final approval, the president/vice president /dean/unit head, as applicable, should provide a notification letter to the faculty member. (A notification template is available from the Office of the Provost or the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences, as applicable.) The notification may include providing the faculty member with the option of receiving a payout of the bonus or deferring pay on the date the bonus is to be processed. Questions about the tax-deferred options can be directed to VCU Benefits at Upon final approval of the bonus, the respective school will generate a Personnel Action Form (PAF) from the off-cycle action in university’s compensation management system and submit to the respective VP office for processing. 


There are no forms associated with this policy.

Related Documents

  1. Faculty Salary Administration Guidelines 

Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision DateTitle
11/13/2003  Faculty Bonus Awards Policy
2/9/2006      Faculty Bonus Awards Policy
5/24/2010     Faculty Bonus Awards Policy
12/05/201  Faculty Bonus Awards Policy
8/01/2016 Faculty Bonus Awards Policy
5/21/2019 Faculty Bonus Awards Policy


There are no FAQ associated with this policy and procedures.