There were 20 people in attendance at the PDA Planning Meeting on Friday, Oct. 21, 2017, including Co-Presidents Frank Kung and Itzamarie Chevere-Torres; Co-Vice Presidents Slim Karkar and Ellen Rubinstein; Executive Council Members Abla Tannous and Harita Menon; Postdoc Union Representative Jack Yoon (AAUP-AFT); and Prof. Martha C. Soto, who has served as the PDA’s faculty liaison since 2010.
Moving forward, one of the key issues will be determining what role the PDA plays relative to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (slated to open on Feb. 1, 2017) and the union. For now, we agreed that the most important function of the PDA is to help build a stronger and more cohesive postdoc community across all of Rutgers University. It remains to be seen how exactly we will collaborate with the future office and the union, and the next year will undoubtedly be a time of transition as we all figure out our respective roles. Generally speaking, the PDA will strive to offer an array of professional development activities and social events that encourage involvement across departments and campuses.
Current PDA activities include:
- Creating a PDA website – The PDA will run its own website that will be connected with the Postdoc Office website. It will serve as the main channel of communication for postdocs about PDA activities that may or may not be co-hosted with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
- Pursuing university recognition – The PDA has never been an “official” Rutgers organization and therefore has no way to request money from Rutgers to sponsor events. Because postdocs are not students, our organization can’t be recognized through the usual channels reserved for student-run organizations. We are pursuing the recognition question with staff in the Office of the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. To be continued…
- Drafting bylaws – One part of making the PDA an active and sustainable organization is the creation of bylaws that provide for some kind of infrastructure, including officer positions, membership, and yearly elections. We have a bylaws boilerplate for the purposes of achieving university recognition but will be working over the next several months to revise those bylaws to fit our specific needs.
- Planning the Spring Symposium – We opted to host an Orientation Luncheon during National Postdoc Appreciation Week this past September rather than the regularly scheduled symposium. Instead, we will schedule the Postdoc Symposium (with events that may include a keynote speaker, research presentations, poster session, and/or career development workshops) for sometime in late April or early May. Plans are underway to determine who might be an appropriate keynote speaker, as well as what types of activities would draw a sizable postdoc audience.
The PDA is very much a work in progress, and we welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions as we muddle our way through to making this a vibrant and sustainable organization!