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HR Glossary

Human resources uses specific language to describe job classifications across different colleges and units. These classifications impact which benefits apply to your job, when you get paid, and applicable policies such as how you accumulate time off.


Academic positions are generally faculty and research jobs; non-academic jobs typically refer to non-teaching positions. Impacts: Policies & Benefits

Bargaining Unit

Refers to union jobs, such as the CUPD, building trades workers, etc. Impacts: Policies & Benefits


Employees may work for one of Cornell’s colleges or schools, or for a particular unit, such as the Commencement Office, or Information Technologies. Each college and unit is served by HR representatives who specialize in the work and functions unique to that area of the university. Related: how to find your HR representative.

Contract College/Endowed

This classification refers to whether a position is part of the New York state (public) university system (ie, such as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences), or the privately endowed part of the university (ie, the College of Arts and Sciences, and units such as CU Information Technology). Impacts: Benefits


This classification refers to overtime: a non-exempt employee is entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards act, and is typically working on an hourly basis; these jobs are paid biweekly. An exempt employee is generally a salaried position which is paid twice monthly. Impacts: when you get paid

Individual Contributor/Management

Distinguishes whether a position involves managing projects and/or people (management), or primarily functions on an individual basis.

Job Family

Cornell divides jobs into 15 basic groups or families of similar types of work; for example, “Athletics” or “Library/Museum.” See the Career Navigator for more information This classification helps to describe positions in the Cornell job matrix.

Pay Band

Cornell has 9 regular staff pay bands which distinguish compensation ranges and progression within job families.