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2,636: Postdoctoral Fellows

Revised: September 2016

Postdoctoral Fellow is an advanced scholarly appointment of at least 50%. It is a specialized education and training position in research or scholarship under the direction of a faculty sponsor(s) for the postdoctoral fellow's continuing education and professional growth. The postdoctoral fellow is not precluded from applying for any grant, contract, or postdoctoral training grants or nationally competitive postdoctoral fellowships permitted under guidelines of the university research office. The appointment serves to advance the competence of a person who has completed higher professional training marked by a doctoral degree, within the past five years. Those persons excluded from postdoctoral status are registered, full-time students, candidates for a degree, visiting scholars who are not at the University for the purpose of receiving further training, or anyone who does not meet the above definition per Board of Regents Handbook Title 4, Chapter 7, Section 5.

There are two possible postdoctoral appointments, and they vary by funding source.

A. Postdoctoral fellow-employee: postdoctoral fellows in this category are funded by the faculty/department sponsor, or other funds distributed via university payroll. These postdoctoral fellows are considered employees and are eligible to receive benefits as postdoctoral fellows.

B. Postdoctoral fellow-trainee: postdoctoral fellows in this category are funded through external sources that provide stipends directly to the postdoctoral fellow, bypassing the university payroll system. These positions are not eligible for university employee benefits.

The following policies apply to the hiring and appointment of all postdoctoral fellows:

1. Completion of a doctoral degree in the appropriate discipline is required. The doctoral degree must have been completed within the five years immediately preceding the first date of appointment as a postdoctoral fellow at the University and the individual cannot have held previous positions in the professional ranks. Exception to the requirement of completion of the doctorate in the past five years can be made in situations where it can be determined that the individual is changing fields.

2. Job requirements are established by the department subject to approval of the dean and must be in accordance with university policy as specified below.

3. The University is committed to providing a place of work and learning free of discrimination on the basis of a person's age, disability, whether actual or perceived by others (including service-connected disabilities), gender (including pregnancy related conditions), military status or military obligations, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, race, or religion. Where discrimination is found to have occurred, the University will act to stop the discrimination, to prevent its recurrence, to remedy its effects, and to discipline those responsible.

4. If the appointee is not a U.S. Citizen, it is the department's responsibility to document the appointee's eligibility to work as a postdoctoral fellow in the United State in accordance with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) rules, prior to the desired start date of employment.

5. The duration of a postdoctoral fellow's appointment to the University may not exceed five years. The postdoctoral fellow's appointment must terminate no later than five years after the initial date of employment at the University, or if there has been a break in service, no later than the date on which the cumulative periods of appointment total five years.

The following policies apply to the hiring and appointment of postdoctoral fellows - employee only:

1. A position for a postdoctoral fellow may be filled by conducting a search or by requesting a search waiver. Alternatively, a postdoctoral fellow position funded from non-state sources may be filled under the Postdoctoral Fellow Non-Search Hiring Policy.

2. Employing departments shall ascertain that prospective appointees meet all eligibility requirements prior to the commencement of appointment. It is the department's responsibility to obtain and forward to Human Resources an official transcript of the highest degree before the first day of employment.

3. Hiring salaries are negotiated between the postdoctoral fellow and the faculty sponsor from whom the individual receives advanced training, and is subject to approval by the department chair, dean and Executive Vice President & Provost or designee in accordance with the university's postdoctoral salary policy.

4. Postdoctoral fellows hired on continuing or renewable contingent on funding appointments are considered eligible for moving expenses as provided for in the Administrative Manual section 2,540. This is not an entitlement; reimbursement of any amount of moving expenses for a postdoctoral fellow is at the discretion of the supervisor, and requires approval of the dean and appointing authority.

5. Appointments are recommended through appropriate administrative channels. The Office of Human Resources will be responsible for monitoring all appointments to ensure they are in compliance with the policies established for postdoctoral fellows. Terms of appointments usually issued annually for the fiscal year; however, shorter appointment terms may be offered.

6. Postdoctoral fellows are employed under the terms and conditions specific for postdoctoral fellows. The contract is an "A" (12 month) contract. Postdoctoral fellows may not be employed on "B" (9 month) contracts. The contract cannot be for less than 50%.

7. Contracts for postdoctoral fellows who are continuing end on June 30th of each year and are renewed on July 1st. Contracts for postdoctoral fellows are subject to termination at any time with 30 days notice.

Postdoctoral Fellow Salary Policy:

1. Salary levels - The salary range for a postdoctoral fellow is at or above the base salary level for graduate assistants and below the salary level of assistant professors in the discipline. The minimum salary level for a postdoctoral fellow at the University is equal to the minimum level set for graduate assistantships, prorated for FTE. The maximum salary level for a postdoctoral fellow is equal to the minimum level of "A" contract assistant professors in the discipline in the NSHE salary schedule. An exception to this salary maximum is allowed in situations where the granting agency funding the postdoctoral fellow provides a salary schedule that specifies a higher allowable maximum salary.

Following an increase in the university minimum salary for postdoctoral fellows, the salaries of existing grant-funded postdocs must be increased to the new minimum within one year. Any exceptions require approval by the Office of the Provost.

2. Salary raises - Postdoctoral fellows may receive a salary increase no more frequently than once per 12 months. The salary increase can occur at any time during the year (does not have to be July 1) and typically coincides with funding cycles tied to the grant providing the postdoctoral fellow's salary. During the first 12 months after the initial hire date, a postdoctoral fellow may receive a raise at any time; the next raise cannot occur for a minimum of 12 months after the first raise. A salary increase up to 10% may be granted by the dean. A salary increase in excess of 10% must be approved by the Provost's Office. There is no obligation to provide a cost of living adjustment to a postdoctoral fellow when COLA is granted to faculty or classified employees. Neither the faculty nor classified merit policies apply to postdoctoral fellows.

3. Salary overload - Postdoctoral fellows may receive overload pay to teach a maximum one-course overload per semester under special circumstances comparable to the provision for overloads for academic faculty, see sections 2,512 and 2,690. An overload for a postdoctoral fellow requires approval from the faculty mentor, department chair, dean, and Provost's Office. Teaching a course should typically be done as an offload rather than an overload; therefore, justification for an overload should provide information on the need for the overload and how it benefits the postdoctoral fellow and the department. There is no restriction on the amount of the salary for the overload except that the overload salary supplement cannot create a salary total that exceeds the maximum monthly salary level allowed for postdoctoral fellows. The overload salary is to be paid in the months that the work is done and cannot be spread over additional months if the sole purpose of spreading the pay is to pay an amount that would be in excess of the maximum if paid during the months that the work is done.

4. Promotion - A postdoctoral fellow hired without a search, under the Non-Search Hiring Policy, is not eligible for promotion. A postdoctoral fellow hired through a search can be considered for promotion to a research faculty position subject to procedures in department and college bylaws. If there are no guidelines in the unit bylaws, promotion requests need to be reviewed and approved by the department chair and by the dean before being forwarded to the Provost's Office for approval. The research faculty position to which a postdoctoral fellow would be promoted would typically be at rank 0(I) but can be rank 0(II) when appropriate. Request for promotion of postdoctoral fellows can be made at any time during the year unless unit bylaws specify otherwise. Promotions result in a salary increase equal to 10% of the salary or the amount necessary to bring the salary to the minimum of the new rank, which ever amount is greater.

Other:

For situations and policies not specified in Code, bylaws, or the Administrative Manual, postdoctoral fellows is covered under policies applicable for "A" contract academic faculty.

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