Frequently Asked Questions about the STAR Program

What is the STAR Program?

The Staff Appreciation and Recognition Program (called the “STAR Program”) is a cash recognition program designed to recognize and reward excellence in University service, significant achievements and contributions, and/or outstanding individual and team performance.

How does the STAR Program work?

STAR Achievement Awards for “substantial change over time”: recognize sustained, exceptional performance and/or significant contributions from an employee(s) over an extended period of time. The contribution that is being recognized at the Achievement Award level must reflect at least one of the Chancellor’s Goals and/or the UCSF PRIDE Values. Prize amount is $5,000, or up to 10% of base salary, whichever is lower.

What are examples of contributions deserving of a STAR Achievement Award?
  • External Relations Specialist conceives, designs, and implements an innovative method to identify and contact alumni who have a high probability of supporting UCSF, with significant impact for both fundraising and political support for the campus.
  • Student Services Advisor leads the design and implementation of a program that develops valuable information, streamlines processes and systems for supporting students and their well-being. This work is not only enthusiastically adopted by the Campus, but has become a go-to model of the UC System as a whole.
  • An employee’s process plans, re-engineering of their workflow or a program/project process results in major cost savings to their department and/or school at large.
  • Special Projects Cross-Department and/or Cross-Control Points projects that have a shared common objective or goal. These types of projects can include multifunctional databases, shared resources e.g., cross collaboration to achieve a mission/plan of action.
  • Completion of a special project which results in a significant positive impact to the campus community.
Who is eligible for the STAR Program?

Campus policy-covered staff (PSS and MSP) and represented staff in the clerical (CX) bargaining unit are eligible for the new STAR Program. Additional information on program eligibility can be found here.

How will the awardees be selected within the School of Medicine?

All nominations are reviewed by multiple members of a review committee, comprising staff, managers and faculty representing diverse functional areas. 

Could an employee receive both an Achievement and a Spot Award?

An employee could receive both awards as long as the combination of both awards does not exceed 10% of salary or $10,000, whichever amount is lower and as long each award is for a different accomplishment.  With that said, control points and HR will provide regular auditing to ensure compliance requirements are followed in award allocation.

Is it possible to get a Spot and Achievement Award for the same accomplishment?

No. An employee may not receive a SPOT Award and an Achievement Award for the same accomplishment.

Can STAR Awards be used to recognize team efforts?

Yes, they can. If you are giving a Spot Award or Achievement Award to a project team, the full amount will be given to each project team member. The Award is not split or distributed among project team members.

Can the department or divisions supplement the $5,000 Achievement Award or $1000 Spot Award amounts with additional funds if they are available?

No. The award funds may not be supplemented by department or division funds. In addition, the Spot Award and Achievement Award budgets cannot be moved between programs. The funds/budget for each program (Spot or Achievement) stay within each program. 

When do awardees receive payment?

For Achievement Awards, there are two cycles. SOM only participates in the Spring cycle that is typically paid in June of the current fiscal year. Please see STAR payment calendar.

Who can nominate deserving staff members?

Anyone. Supervisors will be consulted on their support for all nominations.

How are the Achievement Awards funded?

The program is funded by a payroll assessment of eligible populations. Funds are distributed to the Control Points on the basis of the eligible population. The assessment comes from the employee’s funding sources. It is not paid for by the employee.

Can a department implement additional restrictions on award eligibility such as only allowing awards to be given to an employee every other year?

No. UCSF STAR Administrative Guidelines were reviewed by all control points, HR leadership and UC Office of the President. Control points and departments must follow the approved eligibility requirements for both the Spot and Achievement awards.

Can a campus department or unit offer a non-cash award which is available for all employees?

Yes, a campus unit may offer a non-cash award valued at $75 or less to any employee and this would be separate from the STAR award program. The criteria for the award may be established by the campus unit. The non-cash award (gift certificate or card, merchandise etc.) must be valued at $75 or less so the employee does not incur any taxes, unlike the campus-wide Spot Award or Achievement award which is taxed). Reference from: University of California Employee Non-Cash Awards and Other Gifts Policy BFB-G-41 (pages 3-5).