History and Bylaws

National Postdoc Association Meeting

National Postdoc Association (NPA) 2019 annual meeting in San Francisco, California

History of the PDA

2000 Postdoctoral Researchers Association (PRA) established
2004 CWRU joined the National Postdoctoral Association
2004 Postgraduate Audit Program established, allowing postdocs to take classes at 10% stated tuition rate
2004 Individual Development Plan for Postdocs developed
2005 National Postdoctoral Association does a Team Visit at CWRU to advise on creating equitable benefits program for postdocs and reestablishing Postdoctoral Research Association
2005 Health Care Policy for Postdocs designed and institution implemented a unique health insurance plan for postdocs with an outside provider, Garnett-Powers & Associates
2005 The PRA was reestablished as the Postdoctoral Advisory Committee
2005 First Postdoctoral Advisory Committee convened to foster productive and effective dialogue between University and Postdocs
2007 Oversight of Postdoctoral Community assigned to Faculty Senate Committee on Graduate Studies

Electronic appointment system for Postdoctoral Records built within the CWRU's Student Information System

2015 Postdoctoral Association (PDA) formalized through creation of new By-Laws (see below)
2018 Office of Postdoctoral Affairs developed and implemented a coordinated half-day Orientation Program for postdocs, with guest speakers from Offices of Compliance, Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Office of Equity, and Environmental Health and Safety
2018 Office of Postdoctoral Affairs served as host of National Postdoctoral Association Annual Conference (April 6-8) at Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland; in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, CWRU Postdoc Office and PDA held a networking social event at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
2018 PDA held networking social event at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in partnership with Cleveland Clinic
2018 - 2019  Women's Affairs Subcommittee of PDA developed and sponsored large community-campus event Fourth Trimester Symposium: Surviving and Thriving Pregnancy and Beyond, aimed at promoting health and wellbeing of birthing individuals through education and dialogue with local mothers, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants and experts on racial disparities in healthcare
2019 Women's Affairs Subcommittee of  PDA instrumental in starting CONNECT-HER/WISHED mentoring program for women PhDs in coordination with WISHED Program and Flora Mather Stone Women Center for Women at CWRU
2019 PDA led efforts to increase paid family leave from 6 weeks to 8 weeks for all postdocs, staff, and graduate students on campus
2020 PDA proposed and received endorsement from Faculty Senate for a change in J-1 DS-2019 document for postdocs appointed through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Office of HR and Immigration Services will issue DS-2019s for a five-year period rather than annually. Office of Postdoctoral Affairs continues to process annual performance reviews and appointments for postdocs with J-1 visas. This small but significant change means that international postdocs do not need to renew driver's licenses annually and are more able to travel abroad to professional conferences.
2022 PDA Immigration and Visa Committee hosted a nationally recognized immigration lawyer to discuss visa and immigration issues for over 100 attendees.
2022 PDA worked with Avantor Sciences (delivered by VWR) to organize a campus-wide Vendor Fair with 20 vendors. The fundraising event connected over 150 members of the campus community to suppliers, raised $4,500. 
2022 PDA co-hosted and volunteered at a Community Baby Shower to benefit low-income Cleveland families. The PDA collected almost 1,000 items. Over 300 families (500 people) attended the Shower and walked away with free children's clothes, diapers, books, bottles, toys, strollers, high chairs, etc. 
2022 PDA started a monthly Career Series talk. The talks bring in various speakers to discuss their time as a postdoc, professional development, their current role, and how to make the transition to their next position. The goal of the Series is to introduce postdocs to various jobs and focus on what professional development they found most important. 
2023 PDA worked with Avantor to organize a campus-wide Vendor Fair with 22 vendors. The fundraising event connected close to 200 members of the campus community to suppliers, raised $5,000. 
2023 PDA hosted an Intro to Grant-Writing Session with almost 100 attendees.
2023 Started highlighting our Postdoc Spotlight of the Month in the Daily
2023 PDA was accepted into the Cleveland Biomedical Trainee Association (CBTA)
2024 PDA hosted half-day inaugural Biophysics Day with a Research Talk, networking event, and Flash Talks during Biophysics Week.
2024 PDA worked with Avantor to organize a campus-wide Vendor Fair with 33 vendors. The fundraising event connected over 220 members of the campus community to suppliers, raised $8,500. 
2024 Approved by the Faculty Senate, revised the Postdoc Insurance Coverage policy to say "It is the responsibility of the faculty mentor, department, and/or school/college to determine the funding source(s) to pay for one-hundred percent (100%) of the benefits program monthly premiums for postdocs and their dependents."
2024 Postdocs officially put into the HCM time tracking system.

Case Western Reserve University Postdoctoral Association Bylaws

Click here to download the PDA Bylaws

1. Purpose and Function: The CWRU-PDA strives to support and enhance the experiences of postdoctoral researchers on an academic, career development, social, political and cultural basis, while also assisting and advising the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Graduate Studies Professional Development Center at CWRU.

The PDA has the purpose and function of supporting the postdocs at Case Western Reserve University. This purpose is broken into the following categories:

  • 1.1. Scholarly Learning and Professional Development – This includes organizing workshops, providing postdocs with opportunities to present their work, recognition of scholarly activities and inviting outside speakers to enrich the professional training experience. The PDA supports postdocs in career development by organizing and promoting career related seminars, workshops and networking events, in collaboration with the Career Center and the Graduate Studies Professional Development Center.
  • 1.2. Postdoc Advocacy – The PDA should be a source of information and a sounding board for complaints and concerns. The PDA is a place to pass those concerns on to the appropriate channels; however, the PDA does not, in and of itself, have authority to directly alter any policy, except its own bylaws and governance. The PDA interacts with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Office of Research Administration. The PDA guarantees a representative to the various CWRU Faculty Senate committees to ensure postdoctoral representation.
  • 1.3. Social Activities – This includes formal and informal meetings and get togethers of postdocs at the University and outside of the University. The PDA shall have a commitment to promoting networking opportunities both within the postdoc community as well as between the postdoc community and the faculty, staff, and beyond.

2. Membership:

  • 2.1. All CWRU postdocs, defined as any CWRU trainee appointed through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, are members of the PDA.
  • 2.2. Active Members of the PDA - all those described above that attend at least one meeting during the past 12 months.
  • 2.3. The members of the PDA Council, which is the governing body of the PDA, are the two Co-Presidents, the Treasurer, and the Secretary. They are required to attend at least half of the scheduled meetings in a six months period.
  • 2.4. Faculty Senate Committees representative - at least one active member of the PDA or the PDA Council should serve on each of the Faculty Senate Committees of CWRU

3. Organization:

  • 3.1. The structure of the PDA is defined by the by-laws that follow. However, due to the transitory nature of postdoctoral research, the PDA recognizes that in some instances the bylaws may not be applicable/enforceable. In these cases the PDA will decide upon a course of action by a majority vote.
  • 3.2. The PDA will strive to maintain diversity and equal representation amongst scientific discipline and will maintain both national and foreign national representation. The PDA seeks to promote diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion for all postdocs in the PDA membership, leadership, and activities regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, national origin, socioeconomic status, or religion.

The PDA Board will be comprised of the following members as outlined below:

  • 3.3. Co-Presidents
    • a. Two Co-Presidents will be chosen from the existing PDA members.
    • b. The new Co-President will be selected by a majority vote of the active members in attendance at that PDA election meeting, in the absence of the nominees. An active member who is unable to attend the meeting may submit an absentee vote for Co-President as early as the week prior to the election meeting to the outgoing Co-President, and will be considered as in attendance at the PDA meeting in that instance.
    • c. Each Co-President will serve in that position for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 2 years. It will be the responsibility of each Co-President to inform the PDA of the requirement for a call of election in the spring annually once they have held that position for 2 years. Each Co-President may not stand for re-election once they have served in that role for 2 years.
    • d. The Co-Presidents may not also be Secretary or Treasurer.
    • e. The election of the two Co-Presidents must be staggered, with no more than one Co-President position open for nominations at any given time.
    • f. At least one Co-President should normally be available to attend each PDA meeting, unless at the meeting a vote of no confidence in the Co-Presidents will be considered.
    • g. Co-Presidents will chair the meetings of the PDA. In the event that neither Co-President can attend the meeting, the Treasurer or Secretary will chair the meeting.
  • 3.4. Secretary
    • a. The role of Secretary will be elected by a majority vote of the active members of the PDA present at the regular PDA meeting at which the vote is held.
    • b. The Secretary will serve in that position for a minimum of 12 months.
    • c. If the Secretary is unable to attend a meeting they must arrange for another PDA member (normally the Treasurer) to take minutes, and submit them to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs who will disseminate to all current CWRU postdocs.
  • 3.5. Treasurer
    • a. The role of Treasurer will be elected by a majority vote of the active members of the PDA present at the regular PDA meeting at which the vote is held. The Treasurer need not be an active member of the PDA council for election but must become an active member of the PDA council to accept the role.
    • b. The Treasurer will each serve in that position for a minimum of 12 months.
  • 3.6. Members of the PDA Board
    • a. Eligibility: Members of the PDA Board are appointed by volunteering to participate on the PDA and attends at least half of the scheduled meeting in a six months period.
    • b. Resignations: If any PDA Board member wishes to resign before the completion of their term, the remainder of the PDA board must be informed at least 2 weeks prior to the subsequent PDA monthly meeting. The remaining Board members will then draft a notice calling for nominations to fill the vacancy. This notice will then be sent to all active PDA members. Nominations for the open position will be accepted up until 1 week before the next PDA meeting. All active PDA members are eligible to be nominated/appointed (i.e. eligibility in section 3.6.a does not apply).Self-nominations or nominations of others are acceptable. At the end of the nominating period, the following results will be considered:
      • i. If one person is nominated, then that person will be appointed to the open Board position, starting at the next PDA meeting.
      • ii. If two or more people are nominated, then an election will be held at the subsequent PDA meeting, according to the rules described in Section 6.5 of these bylaws.
      • iii. If no nominations are submitted, the notice of vacancy will be sent to all postdocs at the University. In this case, the position to be filled will remain open at the subsequent PDA meeting and will be filled at the following PDA meeting (“second meeting”). Nominations will be taken up to a week prior to the “second meeting.” If one person is nominated, then that person will be appointed to the open Board position, starting at the start of the “second meeting.” If two or more people are nominated, then an election will be held at the “second meeting”, according to the rules described in Section 6.5 of these bylaws.
      • iv. If the position remains unfilled after calling for nominations from the entire postdoc community, then the remaining Board members will assume the duties of the vacant position, until a new person is nominated to take the role.
  • 3.7. Ex officio members
    • a. At least one member from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and/or Graduate Studies Professional Development Center and/or Dean of Graduate Studies is invited to attend the PDA general meeting.

4. Responsibilities:

  • 4.1. Co-Presidents
    • a. Co-facilitation of scheduled monthly meetings of the PDA Council in accordance with the guidelines herein.
    • b. Scheduling monthly meetings, setting meeting agenda, maintaining a record of PDA Council meeting attendance, calling the roll if necessary, and determining if quorum is present when required, in conjunction with the Secretary.
    • c. Maintaining the PDA Council email address and being responsible for replying to emails or directing them to the appropriate persons/subcommittees in a timely manner.
    • d. Encouraging the active involvement of the PDA Council in the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA).
    • e. Overseeing the timely appointment and/or election of new PDA Council members.
    • f. The Senior Co-President will be representing the PDA in the Intercouncil Leadership Committee, and in their absence, the Junior Co-President, Secretary, or Treasurer, will take their place.
  • 4.2. Secretary
    • a. The Secretary will be responsible for keeping the minutes of each PDA Council meeting and will ensure that information from PDA Council meetings is available to all postdocs.
    • b. The Secretary will distribute the call for each meeting of the PDA Council in advance to all postdocs.
    • c. Notification of the PDA Council members and those eligible for PDA Council membership of vacancies on the PDA Council.
    • d. The Secretary will maintain a PDA Council membership roll in conjunction with the Co-Presidents.
    • e. The Secretary will be responsible for collecting and organizing the relevant minutes of Faculty Senate Committee meetings from their respective postdoc representatives.
  • 4.3. Treasurer
    • a. The Treasurer will solicit planned expenses from the PDA and will consider funding requests from any active member. They will use this information to develop an annual budget and present it at a monthly meeting. The final budget will be reviewed by the Co-Presidents prior to presentation. The PDA Council will approve normal expenditure and annual budget by majority vote at any monthly meeting.
    • b. The Treasurer will be responsible for recording and handling all funds that the PDA Council receives and disbursement of expenditure as approved by the PDA Council with assistance from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
    • c. The Treasurer will be actively involved in developing strategies to increase funding opportunities for the PDA Council.
    • d. The Treasurer will provide a detailed report on the state of the PDA Council accounts at each monthly meeting.
  • 4.4. Faculty Senate Committee Representative
    • a. The Faculty Senate Committees Representatives will attend the given Committee monthly meeting, following the Committee schedule
    • b. The Faculty Senate Committees Representatives will submit a report or a copy of the meeting minutes to the CWRU PDA Co-Presidents after each monthly meeting
    • c. The Faculty Senate Committees Representatives will attend the monthly CWRU PDA Meeting to discuss previous and future topics relative to their assigned Faculty Senate Committee.
    • d. In the case of impossibility to attend a Faculty Senate Committee meeting, the Faculty Senate Committees Representatives shall notify the CWRU Co-President, and an active member of the CWRU PDA will be selected to participate, although the selected member will not have voting power.
    • e. In the case of impossibility to attend a PDA meeting, the Faculty Senate Committees Representatives shall notify the CWRU PDA Co-Presidents, and send an email with a report or copy of the minutes of the previous FSC meeting that are relevant to postdocs to the Secretary or upload it onto our Google Group, with a note of the future topics to discuss for future meetings.
    • f. Faculty senate committee representatives need to send their minutes meeting report to the Secretary monthly before the PDA meeting and in the event that there are no relevant updates, send only a statement: “no update for postdoc was discussed in the meeting” with date, time and location of meeting.
    • g. If the elected representative does not attend two Faculty Senate meetings back to back and did not take responsibility to look for another member to represent them, an alternative representative for that committee will be discussed in the next PDA meeting and will be considered for change.
    • h. If a Faculty Senate Committee Representative resigns from the position prior to the end of their term, a new member will be appointed according to the process described in Section 3.6.b of these bylaws.

5. Conduct of Meetings

  • 5.1. Time and Place – The regular meetings of the PDA shall be determined during the first meeting of the fiscal year in a location to be announced by one of the Co-Presidents, unless otherwise determined by the PDA Board Secretary. Meetings will be scheduled for two hours. Unfinished business will be relegated to the next meeting.
  • 5.2. Quorum – One-half (rounded down) plus one of the rolling average number of postdoc attendees of the last 3 months shall constitute a quorum. The Secretary shall determine the rolling average number of attendees of the last 3 months. A quorum shall be necessary to amend the PDA Council Bylaws. All other proposals may be passed at the regular monthly meeting by a majority vote of the active members present at the meeting.
  • 5.3. Agenda – An agenda will be distributed in advance of all scheduled meetings. A copy of the previous month’s minutes will be sent by email to all PDA Board members prior to the monthly meeting.
  • 5.4. Orders of business – Items to be considered under this heading include:
    • a. Opening – At the start of the meeting, the Co-President may make, or call upon others to add new business and approve the agenda. Furthermore, the Co-President shall ask if there are additions or corrections to the minutes. If there are no changes or changes are made by general consent, the minutes will be declared, “approved”, or “approved as amended”.
    • b. Agenda items for the meeting - Any member of the postdoc community is encouraged to contact the PDA leadership or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to relay additional agenda items for the meeting. It is also highly recommended that PDA committees meet up amongst themselves to talk about their proposed ideas that require voting to the rest of the postdoc leadership. Agenda items can be sent to the PDA Board Co-Presidents with a copy to the PDA Board Secretary, and the Co-Presidents shall determine what goes on the agenda for a particular meeting.
    • c. Closing – Determination of topics for next meeting’s agenda.

6. Rules for Conducting the Election of the PDA Board

  • 6.1. Positions to be filled by election – The positions to be filled by elections are:
    • Co-President (2 years)
    • Secretary (1 year)
    • Treasurer (1 year)
  • 6.2. Notice of Nominations and Election – Elections will be called by each Co-President in the spring annually. Nominations for Secretary and Treasurer, including self-nominations, must be submitted to the outgoing Co-President and the Director of the Postdoctoral Affairs prior to or at the start of voting for the position in writing or by electronic mail, or orally at the meeting. Nominations for Co-President must be submitted to the same aforementioned people a week before the elections with a vision statement of what their plans are for the next 2 years. A notice of the meeting where nominations and election will be held and these rules shall be provided to the rest of the PDA electronically.
  • 6.3. Nomination Rules and Eligibility - Nominations for Co-President are accepted until a week before the elections. Nominations for both Secretary and Treasurer positions are accepted until the start of voting for that position. Active PDA members who are present at the election can be nominated to the board. A nomination will only be valid if the candidate declares orally at the meeting, or in writing or by electronic mail prior to the meeting, that the candidate is willing to take office if elected. A candidate who fails to be elected for a position may be nominated for a subsequent position. Nominations for Faculty Senate Committee representatives and PDA Committee heads are open to all postdocs.
  • 6.4. Nomination Process - To insure an orderly process for the nominations for PDA Board positions, the following rules shall apply:
    • a. The outgoing Co-President may, in his/her discretion, make an opening statement that will describe the process for the nomination of candidates.
    • b. Following the opening statement, the nomination process shall commence by having the outgoing Co-President list the nominees for Co-President, and the election process can commence afterwards. For the nominations for the offices of Secretary and Treasurer however, the Co-President will open the nominations and ask the nominees if they accept these nominations. Nominees that were not elected in previous positions may be nominated again.
  • 6.5. Election Process – To insure an orderly process for the elections of PDA Board members, the following rules shall apply:
    • a. Casting a vote or abstaining is to be done anonymously by paper balloting and will be collected by the Outgoing Co-President. Postdocs have to be in attendance or be an active member to vote for the PDA Board leadership. To vote in absentia, postdocs have to be an active member in the last 12 months and can send their votes by email to the outgoing Co-President prior to the election day.
    • b. Voting for PDA Committee Heads and Faculty Senate Committee representatives does not require active membership but just presence during the election meeting.
    • c. To be elected, a candidate must receive the most votes from the people present in the meeting.
    • d. A candidate can withdraw at any time from subsequent votes.
    • e. In the case there are more than two candidates running and none receive a majority of affirmative votes in a vote, the vote is rerun with only the candidates receiving the two highest vote counts eligible. (This may result in more than two candidates being eligible.) In the case of a tie, the current Co-President’s vote counts as two votes.
    • f. Everyone present in the meeting can vote, including the outgoing Co-President but not the Director of Postdoctoral Affairs. The outgoing Co-President and the Director of Postdoctoral Affairs will act as tellers.
    • g. Once the votes have been casted for one position, votes will be counted. After counting, the Outgoing Co-President will announce the results.
    • h. Afterwards, the nominations will be submitted in this order for these positions, and will follow the same election process as the Co-President, Secretary, Treasurer
    • i. The order of nominations for Faculty Senate representatives will then commence and follow the same nomination and election process as the rest of the PDA Board in this order:
      • Information and Communications Technology
      • Minority Affairs
      • University Libraries
      • Graduate Studies
      • Research
      • Women’s Affairs
      • Inter Council Leadership (need to be one of the PDA Board Leadership)
    • j. The order of nominations for PDA Committee Heads will then commence and follow the same nomination and election process as the rest of the PDA Board in this order:
      • Benefits Committee
      • Public Relations
      • Social Activities
      • Professional Development
      • Women’s Initiatives