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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Post Doc Representation

Dear Post-Doctoral Researcher:

We are writing to see if you are content with the representation that you have under the current campus governance structure. There  are four parts to this structure:

University Faculty Senate

Represents approximately 1650  tenured and tenure track faculty.

The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Represents approximately 5600 PhD students and the 2500 Professional Degree students.

The Student Assembly (SA)

Represents approximately 15000 undergraduates.

The Employee Assembly (EA)

Represents everyone else  including 6800 nonacademic staff, 1020 academic professionals (350 Instructional Staff,  the 330 Research Staff, the 120 Librarians and Archivists, and the 240 Extension Staff),  and 550 Post Docs.


Although post-docs theoretically have a voice through the EA, that body is overwhelmingly made up of nonacademic staff. It may make more sense for post docs to be able to express themselves in other ways: possibly through the GPSA, possibly through the Senate, or possibly through a brand new assembly. On the other hand maybe things are fine as is. We would like to learn what you think.

For a more informed view take a look at the Senate Agendas and GPSA Agendas . This will help you better understand how those bodies spend their time.

Please share you insights below. Posted comments are anonymous unless you identify yourself in the comment itself.

We look forward to hearing from you by February 1 or so.

Charlie Van Loan (Dean of Faculty)
Chris Schaffer (Associate Dean of Faculty)

Last Updated: December 23, 2017 at 2:58 am


  1. In my department, post-docs are called faculty and have most of the rights and responsibilities, including teaching, accorded to nontenure track lecturers. I would agree an academic-discipline group would best represent. On the other hand, it would be a pleasure to see all employees (tenure track, non TT, physical plant) coming together to understand common concerns, which are probably more present than we tend to talk about

  2. It would be a good idea to form the postdoc assembly since postdoc is similar to graduate students and faculties, but they are also different. An assembly specifically consisting of postdocs will be able to better address the needs of postdocs.

  3. I think we should belong to the Faulty Senate. It may be easier, however, to place us with the graduate students (GPSA).

    That would be my second choice.

  4. I would like to see post-docs represented through the faculty senate. This would go a long way towards bolstering the self-consciousness of post-docs as academics, and make a move away from the idea of post-docs as employees that simply fill necessary institutional functions.

    1. I agree with this!

    2. Second that

  5. I also would like to see post-docs represented through the faculty senate. Postdocs are NOT graduate students, nor are we departmental staff. As mentioned above, have many of the same responsibilities as faculty, including teaching. Most postdocs also should be considered Visiting Assistant Professorships; as such, we should be placed with faculty.

  6. I do not fully agree with any of the choices put forward in this consultation.

    In fact, all of the 1020 academic professionals, who are all people with similar interests and who share some duties with faculties, should be represented together in a brand new body. Postdocs would be well-represented in such a body, which would have much more weight than if it represented postdocs alone.

    Postdocs’ interests are most closely aligned with that of the GPSA, but their duties are most closely aligned with that of faculty. Therefore, representation in any of these two bodies, although more appropriate than the current representation in the employee assembly, would be inadequate.

  7. Postdocs’ interests are aligned with those of the 1,020 academic professionals, most of whom (like postdocs) carry out some of the same responsibilities as faculty. There should be a new assembly representing postdocs + academic professionals.

    Being in the same assembly as faculty ignores the fact that faculty members’ interests may not always be aligned with postdocs’. Being in the same assembly as graduate and professional students would drown out our voices and ensure that issues specific to postdocs remain unaddressed.

  8. A separate postdoc assembly is unlikely to have long-term efficacy or consistency, and it is too small to have bargaining power. Despite the fact that our career trajectory (hopefully) points toward tenure-track faculty, and that many of us would like to think of ourselves as faculty, our interests as postdocs do not currently align with those of the faculty. I agree that they instead align most closely with the 1,020 academic professionals. A joint assembly of academic professionals and postdocs would be roughly the same size as the faculty senate and should have considerable bargaining clout.

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