Compensation Study (2023) FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are we doing a compensation study? 
    As part of the compensation strategy, SMU performs a market review every two years to confirm that salary ranges assigned to job classifications and pay grades are aligned with peer universities and top employers in the DFW region. This year, SMU HR will be partnering with Segal, a compensation and benefits consultant, to complete the study.
  2. Who is included in the compensation study?
    Most classified staff positions will be included in the study.
  3. Does this review include faculty positions?
    No. This specific compensation study will review benefits-eligible staff positions at SMU. Benefits-eligible faculty and positions with primarily teaching and research responsibilities are managed separately through the University’s Faculty Workload and Compensation policy, tenure and promotion process, and other related academic policies under the purview of the Office of the Provost.
  4. What is the timeline for the study?
    SMU HR will ask departments to make sure their current job descriptions are accurate and submit any updated position descriptions by February 28. The benchmarking analysis will begin on March 1 with a goal to complete the study by October 1.
  5. Why are we implementing a pay increase and promotion freeze starting on January 31?
    Once accurate job descriptions are collected by SMU HR and provided to Segal for review, we need to ensure they have the most current position and salary information to complete the benchmarking analysis.
  6. Do I need to update each of my employee’s job description?
    Job descriptions will need to be reviewed and updated, if necessary. 
  7. How do I update a job description?
    When updating a job description, managers need to take any incumbent employee out of the role. Instead, the job descriptions should reflect the essential responsibilities and qualifications as if you were recruiting for the position.

Examples include:

    • If the current employee in the position has a master’s or higher-level degree, those credentials may not be necessary to complete the job duties for the position.  Or, vice versa – the position may require an advanced degree given the requirements of the position.
    • If the current employee in the position has 30 years of experience, that might not be the required years of experience for the role.
  1. To Whom do I return updated job descriptions to in SMU HR?
    Updated job descriptions will be returned to the HR Rep who sent the original email (April Gonzalez or Marc Garner).
  2. What if I don’t return any revised job description before the February 28 due date?
    If a revised job description is not returned before February 28, we will provide Segal with the job description we have on file. That means we could be providing Segal with inaccurate information regarding an employee’s job duties. It will be up to the manager to ensure job descriptions are returned before the deadline. In instances where we don’t have a job description on file, we will not be able to provide Segal with a job description to review. 

  3. What if I must increase or promote an employee during the market study process (between January 31 and October 1).
    If an employee is promoted or their pay is adjusted during the market process timeline, this position will be removed from the market study.
  4. Who do I contact if I have questions about completing the job description?
    You can contact your HR Business Partner if you have any job description-related questions (See contact information below).
  5. Where can I go online to learn more about this compensation study?
    A dedicated website with information about the study is available on the SMU HR website.

  6. Who do I contact in SMU HR if I have questions about the compensation study?
    Please contact Tracy Scott, Sr. Compensation Specialist, if you have any questions.

Ana Giron

Barbara Curran

Marlene Terrazas

Associate Director, Sr HRBP

HR Business Partner

HR Business Partner








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SMU HR Staff Compensation Study –Update #1
(June 2023)

SMU began a staff compensation study in March and is partnering with Segal, a human resource consulting firm with experience working with higher education institutions. We’ve made good progress so far, and the following is an update.

Our Progress to Date

  • During April and May, Segal met with several stakeholders across campus to gain insight into our current compensation programs and policies. We’d like to thank the division and department leadership for taking the time to participate in this first stage of the process.
  • We are now developing a draft total compensation philosophy, using this input and feedback. The philosophy will serve as a foundation of SMU’s compensation program and allow us to proceed to the next phases of the study: classification analysis and market assessment.

What’s Happening Next?

  • The classification analysis is a collaborative process, led by Segal with assistance from SMU Human Resources, to update and revise job categories and job levels. The goal will be to create a structure that is uniquely relevant to SMU but is reflective of the broader higher education and general industry market, based on where we compete for talent. This work will take place from May through July.
  • The market assessment phase is where we’ll look at the compensation provided by universities nationally and near SMU for positions similar to those at the University. Additionally, where appropriate, we’ll also look at salaries for similar staff jobs in industries outside of higher education. We expect this phase of the study to begin in July and wrap up in September.

We will provide additional updates as the study moves forward. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please reach out to Tracy Scott, Senior Compensation Specialist, at