Staff Compensation Study (2023)

Staff compensation study results and next steps (December 13, 2023)
(a message to staff from Sheri A. Starkey, Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer)

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Update #2 (November 2023)

SMU is completing the staff compensation survey initiated earlier this year. The University’s partner in this review is Segal, a human resource consulting firm that specializes in higher education. The following is an update on our efforts to date and what can be expected as we move toward the final phase.

Our Progress to Date

In April and May, Segal interviewed stakeholders across campus to gain insights into our existing compensation programs and policies. Based on this input, the firm worked with the University to develop a draft compensation plan that will serve as the foundation of SMU's compensation program going forward.

During the summer months, with Segal’s assistance, we conducted a job classification analysis and market assessment. This review involved updating and revising job categories and levels to align with the broader higher education sector and general industry markets.

A critical output of this study is the creation of a job architecture framework for SMU's future use. To achieve this, Segal reviewed current job descriptions and suggested market-based job families and levels, and standardized job titles.

  • Job families group similar types of jobs, such as academic affairs, athletics, and information technology.
  • Job levels reflect factors like organizational impact, decision-making, independence of action, supervisory responsibility, and education/experience requirements, which help define the responsibilities of a role.
  • Standardized job titles aim to accurately represent a role's scope, level, and supervisory duties.

In October, Segal held a series of in-person meetings with senior school and division leaders across campus. These meetings allowed for a review and validation of the proposed job architecture within their respective areas.

What’s Happening Next?

Now, we are entering the final phase of the compensation review process where we receive the recommendations and discuss implementation options for the compensation program based on the market analysis and internal comparisons.

  • Findings and recommendations will be presented to Human Resources and other stakeholders.
  • SMU will announce the study’s findings and what staff can expect in December before the winter holiday.
  • Information about salary changes (which will either stay the same or increase) and any adjustments to HR job titles will be communicated in January.
  • HR will release future updates for the job leveling guide, a list of new job titles, new classification structures(family/subfamily), and new pay grades.
  • Employees will remain eligible for future merit increases.

We remain confident the new staff compensation plan will position our staff and SMU for future success. If you have any questions, please reach out to Tracy Scott, Senior Compensation Specialist, at