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Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan: Principles and Procedures


These principles and procedures are proposed to guide the implementation of the Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan (the “STAR Plan”) at the University of California, Merced. The STAR Plan is governed by system- wide policies and guidelines.


Strategic Tool: Recognition awards such as those provided for under the STAR Plan are an important strategic tool in implementing the campus’ new compensation philosophy and strategy. It should be used for the appropriate purpose – to recognize extraordinary contributions that are above and beyond an employee’s established day-to-day job responsibilities – and not as a substitute for equity or merit increases, or as a stipend.

Recognition awards are available in two forms – as non-cash employee recognition awards (governed by Policy G-41), also known as “spot” awards, that are limited in value to a $75 gift card or a one-month parking permit or transit pass value to $280; and cash awards, which are provided via the STAR Plan.

Local Discretion: Consistent with campus efforts to give division heads more control over their own budgets, division head approval is sufficient for granting an award from appropriations contained within that division’s budget, or unless the award exceeds restrictions outlined in the Plan guidelines. Department funds should be used to fund the STAR Plan awards.

Plan Funding: Department funds should be used to fund all STAR Plan awards.

Requests for supplemental appropriations must be submitted to the Campus Budget Office for their review/approval.

Funding Restrictions: To assure equitable distribution of STAR Plan awards to all eligible employees, total annual STAR Plan awards cannot exceed 2% of active, STAR-eligible, employee salaries.

Criteria: Criteria are outlined in the Plan guidelines, but in addition UC Merced should strive to ensure awardees meet (and preferably exceed) the current Core Competencies adopted for the campus.

Implementation Review: The Vice Chancellors Council will review the implementation process quarterly. The Council will review the awards granted to date to determine uniformity of criteria and identify any inequities in the distribution of awards.

Procedures for submitting award nominations: Departments should take the following steps to submit nominations for STAR Plan awards:

For departments with available funding …


Department submits nomination for recognition award on the STAR Nomination Form. Awards of $4,999 or less: Upon divisional approval, nomination forms are routed to Human Resources ( for review and PPSM-34 compliance. The Compensation Unit will route completed STAR requests of $4,999 or less to Payroll Services for payment.
Awards of $5,000 or more: The Nominating Department is responsible for routing requests in excess of $5,000 to the Vice Chancellors Council for review and approval. Once VC Council has approved the request, it should be forwarded to for review/approval. Once the Compensation Unit approves the request, it will be routed directly to Payroll Services for payment.


University of California Merced Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan For Plan Year July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024


Questions regarding the STAR Employee Program should be directed to the Compensation and Classification Unit at

University of California Merced Staff Appreciation and Recognition Plan
For Plan Year July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024