On March 2, 2017, the UW Faculty Senate voted unanimously in support of this Class C Resolution which will be sent to all faculty as a notification this week. The Resolution was drafted by the Faculty Council on Research in consultation with the UW Postdoc Association and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. We are happy to share this important step toward greater institutional support and wider recognition across the faculty and administration of the essential roles postdocs play in our research, teaching and service missions at UW. We share the full text of the Resolution here and will also post a copy on our OPA website. One proposed next step is to form a Task Force to address key policy and practice issues across the UW postdoc population. If you have input for this group to consider, please contact us at email@example.com.
Class C Resolution
The Faculty Council on Research recognizes the invaluable service provided by postdocs to both the research and education missions of the University. Post-doctoral researchers are a critical part of the University’s research enterprise, and provide key mentoring and education to UW graduate and undergraduate students.
The postdoctoral experience is nationally recognized as a temporary and transitional period of advanced mentored training toward an independent career. As an institution and as individual faculty advisors, it is vital for us to commit to recognizing that postdocs are on a pathway to career independence. The National Academies of Sciences has studied the postdoc experience extensively and put forward clear recommendations in 2000 and in 2014. With this resolution, the FCR outlines the commitments and practices that would strongly support the UW in achieving parity with national guidelines and peer standards.
Further, by improving our support and services for postdocs, the UW can continue to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. Prior to the re-opening of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in 2015, the UW was missing a go-to place for resources, guidance, professional development programming, policies, and coordination of diverse services across many UW units relating to postdoctoral affairs. Centralizing some of these services will provide efficiencies in that faculty supervisors and departments will be able to utilize and adapt rather than building anew, which will additionally help reduce inequities and inconsistencies in our treatment of postdocs at UW.
WHEREAS, the National Science Foundation Survey shows University of Washington ranked 9th nationally out of 323 institutions by total numbers of postdoctoral appointees in science, engineering, and health in 2014;
WHEREAS, several national bodies, including the NIH, NSF, the federal Office of Management and Budget, the National Postdoctoral Association, and the National Academies have defined the role of postdoctoral researcher as “a temporary position of advanced mentored training in research,” and recognize the “dual role” of postdocs as employees and trainees;
WHEREAS, we must, as a university employing over one thousand post-doctoral researchers, commit to fulfilling our obligations toward these vital members of our research and learning ecosystem and align with national guidelines and peer institutions.
BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate urges the Provost’s Office to make the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs within the Graduate School a permanent part of the University organization with the responsibility of coordinating policies, practices, and procedures for postdocs;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University recognizes the University of Washington Postdoctoral Association (UWPA) as an organization of interest for the postdoctoral research body of the University and for the University. The University should support, promote and respect the independence of the Association.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate urges the Provost’s Office to create a Task Force for Postdoctoral Affairs to include members from key unit responsible for postdocs, such as: Academic HR, the Graduate School, the Office of Research, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Faculty Senate, School of Medicine, and the UW Postdoctoral Association.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate urges the Provost’s Office to charge the Task Force for Postdoctoral Affairs to develop the policies and practices that would bring UW in line with national guidelines and peer institutions, including but not limited to the following issues:
- Limiting the years possible under the various job titles encompassing postdoctoral researcher training, with the goal of promoting postdocs into more independent and permanent positions in a timely manner;
- Enforcement for the dual role of postdoctoral researchers as both employees and trainees with reasonable release time and support for professional development including workshops, travel to conferences, or teaching opportunities;
- Commitment to faculty mentorship for postdocs, including advising on Individual Development Plans and diverse career trajectories;
- Identification of point people within each unit serving postdocs to serve as coordinators with the central Office of Postdoctoral Affairs;
- Consistency with offer letters extended to postdocs to include clear reference to salary, benefits, terms of appointment, grievance options, role expectations, and connections to university resources;
- Streamline the job classifications used for postdoctoral research fellows to facilitate tracking and accountability from first hiring to exit;
- Centralize data collection and tracking of postdocs, including the satisfaction with their training and tracking of employment after leaving in order to quantify the quality of research training received at the University;
- Through relevant policy, faculty code, or by-laws changes, include postdoc representation on relevant University bodies such as the Research Advisory Board, the Faculty Council on Research, and others.
Approved by the Faculty Council on Research, January 2017
Approved by the Senate Executive Committee, February 13, 2017
Approved by the Faculty Senate, March 2, 2017