Compensation modernization inching ahead


The compensation modernization project has long been percolating at Pitt — through several years, HR directors and name changes.


Staff Council will sponsor two Staff Council Spotlight Sessions on the compensation modernization project.

The group’s president, Angie Coldren, told Senate Council last week that they expect a large turnout at the events — 1-2 p.m. June 30 and 3-4 p.m. July 27. They will be available on a virtual platform and possibly in person.

“HR will present the same information at both sessions because the topic is going to impact all staff,” Coldren said. “I think this is a great opportunity for HR to be out there and to just talk a little bit more about the comp modernization project to stop some rumors and ease some frustrations.”

More details will be coming soon on the Spotlight Sessions.

Last week, James Gallaher Jr., vice chancellor of Human Resources who joined Pitt in December 2021, sent an email updating the Pitt community on the project, which still has no clear end date.

His message said the first phase of the project — to evaluate and align University positions for more accurate internal and external job market comparisons and to create a job catalog — is nearly finished. The second phase —  implementing the new structure, including adoption of the new job groupings and standardized job descriptions across the University — will go at least through the end of 2022, Gallaher’s message said.

It is during this second phase that department leaders will receive guidance on the new job structure and salary ranges. Changes to pay are contingent on benchmarking results and budgets and, in most cases, there will not be any immediate effect on salaries, Gallaher’s message said. The benchmarking is currently under review and is slated to begin in the coming weeks, he said in a separate email.

The project’s third phase includes the development and launch of career pathways, to provide Pitt employees with resources to aid them in professional advancement at the University. Gallaher’s message said they anticipate that phase 3 will commence in 2023.

Job mapping

At one point, almost a third of Pitt’s staff were categorized as “administrators.” Gallaher said it had become “somewhat of a catch-all for positions that do not fit into a specific category within the University’s current structure. Job mapping has helped to identify the core duties and responsibilities of these positions to categorize them.”

For instance, a director of administration who performs financial analysis, budget forecasting, and other finance-related tasks is being mapped to a corresponding level in the finance job grouping. As another example, a director of administration who is performing duties similar to managing a department’s workforce, including payroll and recruitment, may be mapped to a human resources job grouping.

HR’s message this week stressed that the new structure and the standardized job descriptions will not change individual roles, responsibilities or areas of focus. “It simply groups similar roles across the University in the personnel system consistently where possible to enable accurate market alignment and competitiveness.”

Administrators who are working with the project team have assisted with mapping current jobs to those in the new job catalog, Gallaher said in an email. The project team will review their work and collaborate with administrators to discuss updates, ensuring job mapping accuracy.

Employees will be able to review their position categorization and mapping summary once this work is complete under the second phase of the project.


The project dates back to 2017 when it was called Total Rewards. Job analysis questionnaires were sent to about 6,800 staff members — with a 96 percent response rate. Then very little happened for the next two years under Human Resources Director Cheryl Johnson.

In December 2019, then-new Vice Chancellor for Human Resources David DeJong said he and his department were ready to move the now-called Shaping the Workplace project forward “full speed ahead” with the goal of reshaping the work environment on campus. Just before the pandemic sent most employees home in March 2020, DeJong issued a report on all the feedback received online and in listening sessions with employees on the Shaping the Workplace initiative.

In February 2021, DeJong, who had by then been promoted to senior vice chancellor for business & operations, said the pandemic had slowed the program some, but reiterated his “full steam ahead” motto. He said at the time that the job reviews and initial market matching would be completed in the coming weeks.

DeJong’s promotion, though, left an opening for a permanent HR director that wasn’t filled until Gallaher arrived late last year.

Mark Burdsall, assistant vice chancellor of Human Resources, told Staff Council in July 2021 that the job groupings had been created and were awaiting input from senior leadership.

Gallaher said this week that senior leadership has approved developing and implementing the new compensation modernization structure. Once the first phase is complete, leadership will review the project’s progress and next steps, including market analysis and benchmarking.

Any who wants to share input and or ask questions about the project can submit them via the Compensation Modernization project webform.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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