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Classification and Compensation Study

As indicated in our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, Austin Peay State University (APSU) is committed to attracting, developing and retaining top talent in our region and in higher education. Our Classifications and Compensation Study is one of the initiatives to establish the foundation which will help us achieve Pillar 3 of the Experience Austin Peay Strategic Plan – The Employee Experience. Knowing compensation is a vital part of the employee experience, our goal is to offer a transparent and market-competitive classification and compensation structure so employees can clearly understand the job opportunities available at the university, the skills required of those jobs, compensation levels, and ultimately, development tools to help employees build a long, productive and rewarding career on campus.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent out seeking proposals from qualified firms to conduct the study. Three bidders were interviewed by human resources staff and representatives from the faculty and staff senates. We are pleased to announce APSU is partnering with Segal, a national consulting firm recognized for its work with hundreds of higher education institutions, to complete this important project to better align the university’s pay structure with salaries in the market and create a comprehensive compensation strategy. At the end of the study, APSU will receive recommendations from Segal to move further towards our strategic goal.

We are excited to begin this project and appreciate your support and patience as we embark on this important effort. As this project is expected to run through mid-2024, we will keep you informed of progress through regular updates. Together with our consultants, we will be scheduling a few stakeholder meetings and virtual university-wide Town Halls.

Projected Project Phases and Timeline

Phase 1 (Completed):

Project Initiation/Discovery and Review Compensation Philosophy
Projected: May-June 2023

Town Hall Kickoff: May 18, 2023

PDQ Training: May 27, 2023

Class/Comp Committee and Segal meetings: June 21, July 10, August 18

Faculty Advisory Group and Segal meetings:  June 21, July 11, August 15

SLT and Segal meetings: August 24

Responsible Parties: Segal, Office of Human Resources, Class/Comp Committee, Faculty Advisory Group, Senior Leadership Team

Phase 2 (We Are Here):

Classification Analysis/Job Structure/Job Description Development
June-November 2023

PDQ process completed Sept. 30.

Job Structure/Description process ongoing.

Responsible Parties: Office of Human Resources, Employees, Supervisors

Phase 3: 

Compensation Analysis (Market Assessment)
November-December 2023

Responsible Parties: Segal, Office of Human Resources

Phase 4:

Salary Structure Design and Pay Guidelines Development
December 2023-May 2024

Responsible Parties: Segal, Class/Comp Committee, Faculty Advisory Group, Senior Leadership Team

Phase 5: 

Pay Equity Analysis
March-May 2024

Responsible Parties: Segal, Office of Human Resources, Office of Institutional Culture

Phase 6: 

Implementation Strategy and Final Report
March-June 2024

Responsible Parties: Segal, Office of Human Resources, Senior Leaders

Class/Comp Committee

  • Hannah Allen, FY23 Staff Senate President
  • Kristal Butts, Academic Assistant to the Chair of Sociology and Community Development
  • Teresa Crutcher, Faculty Senate
  • Fonda Fields, Director of Human Resources
  • Anthony Roark, Director of HR Technology & Operations
  • JaCenda D. Robinson, Assistant Vice President & CHRO
  • Perry Scanlon, FY23 Faculty Senate President
  • Michelle Turner, Staff Senate
  • Jeff Wagner, Director, Maintenance and Central Plant
  • Dannelle Whiteside, Vice President for Legal Affairs & Organizational Strategy
  • Sammie Williams, Chief of Police

Faculty Advisory Group

  • Maria Cronley, Provost and Senior VP of Academic Affairs
  • Tucker Brown, Senior Vice Provost and Associate Vice President
  • Prentice Chandler, Dean of the College of Education
  • Buzz Hoon, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters
  • Lisa Sullivan, Department Chair, Chemistry
  • Amye Melton, Department Chair, Management and Marketing
  • Marcus Hayes, Department Chair, Theatre and Dance
  • Marsha Lyle-Gonga, Department Chair, Political Science & Public Management


A classification and compensation study looks at how the University defines and associates jobs that perform similar or related work. The goal of the classification study is to review the University’s positions and the typical job duties each performs, and develop up-to-date job descriptions that are legally compliant, internally aligned and accurately reflect current roles, responsibilities, duties and qualifications and illustrate, wherever possible, pathways for career progression and growth. Utilizing the updated job descriptions, jobs are categorized by “job families.

The compensation study will use market data to create pay ranges and the overall salary structure(s). The study will examine how similar positions are compensated compared to each other across the university (internal equity) and to similar positions at other universities, and the region and local markets from which we hire to ensure are compensation levels are competitive (external equity).

Faculty (full-time), Administrative, Professional and Clerical/Support Staff
All adjunct faculty, student employees and temporary employees.

Classification and compensation studies frequently utilize external experts. These projects require a significant amount of time and effort and working with an external firm will allow us to do the work more effectively. An outside partner also brings expertise as well as experience with similar projects at other institutions. The Office of Human Resources will be very actively involved in all phases of the project. 

Founded in 1939, Segal is a leading HR and benefits consulting firm. Independent, privately held, and employee-owned, they have more than 1,000 employees throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Segal’s work, ranging from human resources, retirement and health benefits consulting, to investment consulting and insurance, has a single goal: to provide trusted advice that improves people’s lives.

Segal will analyze data, develop drafts of job descriptions, and make recommendations to the University about pay structures and processes. Ultimate changes will be informed by that work, but all final decisions will be made by the University in consultation with stakeholders. Any changes will be taken with consideration of university policy and any applicable regulations.

While it is premature to forecast the outcomes of the project, it is expected that the recommendations may vary by role. This study will evaluate the university’s competitiveness to the external market, depending on various factors – including region, sector and job type. The university will assess the best course of action to pursue market alignment, including title and pay, based on the findings of the study. Where significant changes emerge as appropriate based on the study, the university commits to engaging in a dialogue with leaders and employees. Any resulting pay change or pay scale recommendations to better align our salaries to market and meet the evolving needs of the University and its valued employees will be considered in a way that is fiscally responsible for APSU.

This study will look at the University’s compensation levels compared to the marketplace regionally, within public higher education, and in some cases nationally. It will provide insight into how our salaries compare. This information will help the Class/Comp Committee develop a competitive compensation philosophy for consideration by university leadership that articulates the University’s strategy and guiding principles for how pay will be managed over the long term. Some employees, not all, may receive a reclassification to a new title and/or a salary adjustment based on the study results.

Salary compression occurs when a new hire earns close to or more than a current employee with more responsibility and/or more years of service. The classification and compensation study will likely include processes to help us avoid compression in the future. Individual instances of compression, though, are not part of the study and will be addressed through HR and unit leaders on campus when they arise in a way that is fiscally responsible for APSU. 

Changes to an individual employee’s assigned job duties or responsibilities are not the objective of this project. Some working titles may be altered to create more consistent job families and more clearly represent the role’s expected and assigned responsibilities.

This project is not aimed at achieving job elimination or pay reductions, although we will assess the competitiveness of our compensation and staffing for all positions that are part of the project.  The goal of the project is to provide insight and information concerning our current job classification and compensation system and policies, and create create transparent pay structures to ensure we are able to attract, recruit, develop and retain talent.

The process of designing the new system and making recommendations will take the rest of this calendar year (2023) and into 2024. We anticipate recommendations and implementation strategies being discussed over the course of 2024.

The Office of Human Resources is leading this project. A Class/Comp Committee has been established to assist human resources and Segal in the project. This committee includes a cross-section of university employees. Additionally, Segal plans to meet with key stakeholders across the University to understand perspectives on the current approach to compensation and the desired future state of the classification and compensation program.

Transparency is a guiding principle for the overall project. You can go to the Class/Comp Study website to review any news updates regarding the study. You will also receive notifications via email and other communication channels, e.g. TheGovSays, in person meetings, Zoom sessions, virtual Town Halls, etc. For our goal of creating clarity to be accomplished we will need the engagement from all employees.  Please share all information as it becomes available across your respective teams and peers.

  • A general or automatic pay adjustment
  • An effort to reduce headcount
  • Reorganization of departments
  • Employee-specific performance review of current job duties or responsibilities

This project will ensure a sustainable pay structure that is competitive with the market and across campus, provide a transparent job classification system and new compensation structure that attracts and retains top talent, rewards exceptional performance, and increases employee engagement by enabling employees to understand opportunities available for their growth and development, and provide employees with clear career pathways for growth and potential progression

This project will better organize positions into logical job groupings to compare and ensure pay equity among positions with similar responsibilities more easily, provide greater clarity and efficiency of processes and administration of compensation, and create a newly defined and transparent Compensation Philosophy.