Research Base Salaries

After April 30, 2019, new proposals may not be submitted with research base salaries. 

See the Faculty Research Incentive Program (FRIP).    



At the University of Montana, a faculty member’s institutional base salary (IBS) is the annual compensation the University pays for teaching, scholarship, and service via state-appropriated funds.

If a research base salary (RBS) is proposed and approved, a new position is created and the instructional IBS is adjusted to accommodate this dual appointment.  This dual appointment practice, codified since 1999 in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between University of Montana University Faculty Association and the Montana University System – 13.100 Individual Salary Base, was formalized through University of Montana Policy 480 which allows the creation of distinct position lines for research that are separate from regular state-based contracts for tenure-track faculty members. 

When this dual appointment is approved, an individual’s research base must be used for all organized research activity (e.g., separately budgeted and accounted for), regardless of funding source.

Active research bases are automatically adjusted in Human Resource Services for merit, promotions, and across-the-board increases.  Market adjustments are not automatic and any wage advancement must follow that described in the Collective Bargaining Agreement article 13.250 or by the renewal of the annual contract. 

All research base salaries that have not been renewed within the past five years will be extended, terminated (if not used during the past three years), or subject to submission as new research base salaries if they are below CUPA salaries for rank and discipline.  Such re-evaluation will not reduce previously approved research base salaries. 

Process to Request a Research Base

  1. The faculty member reviews CUPA data (available from the Office of the Provost), which publishes salaries by rank and discipline annually based on a survey of participating universities. If CUPA data are insufficient for a particular case such as being too general for a specific sub-disciplinary expertise, then additional documentation can be provided as evidence for an alternative to the CUPA salaries. The most common alternative data would be salary data for three peer faculty members from US research universities from verifiable sources. The comparators must be at the same professional rank and the same academic discipline as the UM faculty member.  The comparison salary must be for the academic year and for the comparator’s academic base salary. The University of Montana comparison group is Carnegie Research Universities. 
  2. The faculty member completes the Request for Research Base form, attaches the CUPA salary documentation and submits it to the Department Chair or equivalent.  If non-CUPA data is provided, cite each comparator with rank, discipline, salary, University department, and source of data.
  3. The Department Chair is responsible for thorough vetting, and if supportive, adds justification/comments to the request form and forwards all materials to the Dean.
  4. The Dean evaluates the request and, if supportive, adds justification/comments to the request form and forwards all materials to the Provost.
  5. The Provost reviews, rechecks CUPA information and, if approves, forwards the documentation to the Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship (VPRCS).  If the request is denied, the Provost returns the request to the faculty member who may appeal.  
  6. The VPRCS reviews and, if approves, forwards the request to the President.
  7. The President reviews and, if approves, sends the documents back to the VPRCS.
  8. The VPRCS records the approval of the request, and forwards the original documentation to Human Resource Services.
  9. Human Resource Services (HRS) retains the original documentation and forwards the request to the Commissioner’s Office (OCHE) for approval.
  10. Once OCHE has approved and notified HRS, HRS notifies the VPRCS in writing.
  11. The VPRCS notifies the faculty member, chair, dean and/or director, and the Provost of the decision

Appeal Process

  1. If the request for a research base is denied or is reduced by the Dean, the faculty member may write a formal appeal to the Vice President for Research. 
  2. Upon receipt of the formal appeal, the Vice President for Research will convene a meeting and include the Provost, the departmental Chair and Dean, three professional colleagues as suggested by the faculty member, and the Director of Human Resource Services. 
  3. The eight individuals on this appeal committee will meet to review and make a final determination.
  4. If the final determination is supportive, the Vice President for Research will endorse the request on the Request for Research Base form to the President, and the process continues.