“Postdoctoral scholar” describes an individual holding a doctoral degree or equivalent terminal degree who is engaged in a temporary and defined period of formally mentored research or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of their choosing. These positions may also include mentored instruction, although it should not constitute the majority of the appointment. At the time of appointment, hiring documentation must include an articulated program of mentoring with an identified mentor. With each contract renewal, the incumbent’s mentor will need to certify that the incumbent has an active individual development plan as evidence of active mentorship.
Postdoctoral appointments require a doctoral degree or equivalent terminal degree in the field.
Classification, Rank, and Title
Postdoctoral appointments have the classification of “postdoctoral scholar.” The category for a postdoctoral appointment is “postdoctoral scholar.” The rank for a postdoctoral appointment is “postdoctoral scholar.” The title for a postdoctoral appointment is “postdoctoral scholar.”
Appointments and Contract Renewals
Generally, postdoctoral appointments are structured as one-year renewable contracts and are limited to three years. Upon approval of Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, appointments may be extended up to an additional two years beyond the three-year maximum.
Postdoctoral scholars are faculty appointments in the faculty bargaining unit represented by United Academics. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Oregon and United Academics governs the terms and conditions of employment for postdoctoral scholars.
Externally Paid Postdoctoral Appointments
Postdoctoral scholars who are funded externally and have no employment relationship with the university may be given courtesy faculty appointments at the discretion of the university. In these cases, the classification would be “courtesy,” the rank would be “fellow,” and the title would be “postdoctoral fellow.” Courtesy postdoctoral appointment requests must also include an articulated program of mentoring with an identified mentor. Courtesy faculty appointments are not represented by United Academics because they are not UO employees.
Units wishing to make appointments in the postdoctoral rank should follow the University of Oregon recruitment guidelines found on Human Resources - Recruitment website.
The provost or their designee may make exceptions to this guidance that are consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement based on the individual circumstances of the appointment and the interests of the university.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is S.B. 214?
S.B. 214 provides alternative retirement benefits to postdoctoral scholars in positions that meet a specific legal definition, which is as follows:
“1) A public university listed in ORS 352.002 or the Oregon Health and Science University may classify a position as a post-doctoral scholar position if the position:a) Requires a doctoral or equivalent degree;b) Provides a temporary and defined period of employment with the university; andc) Provides clinical or academic research training under formal mentorship.2) As used in this section, “formal mentorship” means a training and mentoring program that:a) Is set forth in writing;b) Is directed by a faculty member of a public university listed in ORS 352.002 or the Oregon Health and Science University; andc) Teaches professional research skills needed to pursue the post-doctoral scholar’s anticipated career path in accordance with the requirements necessary for the funding of sponsored research projects that include funding for post-doctoral scholars.”
When does S.B. 214 go into effect?
S.B. 214 applies to postdoctoral scholars hired after January 1, 2018. Postdoctoral scholars hired after January 1, 2018 will be placed in the Blended OPE Rate Faculty/Staff B.
What happens to the postdoctoral scholars who are hired prior to January 1, 2018?
On January 1, 2018, all postdoctoral scholars will be moved into the new Blended Rate Faculty/Staff B regardless of when they were hired. The employees hired before January 1, 2018 will be grandfathered into the retirement plan they are currently receiving. The indexes paying for postdoctoral scholars will be charged the new rate beginning on January 1, 2018. For FY 2018, the Blended OPE Rate Faculty/Staff B is 48%, which is 24 percentage points lower than the previous rate, and continues to include leave.
What is the alternative retirement benefits package that postdoctoral scholars hired after January 1, 2018 will receive?
Information about retirement benefits can be found at the Human Resources - Benefits website. The university will match employee contributions, up to 4% of salary, to the Optional Retirement Program. These contributions vest immediately. If a postdoctoral scholar accepts another position at an Oregon institution, they will be able to re-elect into PERS or ORP.
Does S.B. 214 create any restrictions on the kinds of funds that can be used to pay for postdoctoral scholars?
No. Postdoctoral scholars on 12-month appointments will generally be funded using research grants, but other funds including startup funds may also be used. When non-grant funds are used to pay postdoctoral scholars, the activities assigned must be consistent with those typically assigned grant-funded postdoctoral scholars.
I am working on a new grant proposal. What OPE rates I should budget for my postdoctoral scholar?
Grant budgeting information can be found on the Sponsored Project Services website. Detailed information about OPE rates can be found on the Budget and Resource Planning website. Postdoctoral scholars will be placed in the Faculty/Staff B rate. For FY 2018, the rate is 48%.
Can a postdoctoral scholar teach?
Yes, however in all cases instruction should constitute no more than half of job duties. Postdoctoral scholar positions with more than minimal instruction (e.g. more than one course per year) should have 9-month appointments. These positions will be eligible for the normal faculty retirement plan. All 12-month postdoctoral positions must comport with the definition in S.B. 214 of postdoctoral scholar, which is focused on providing clinical and academic research training. Consequently, for 12-month postdoctoral scholars, the instructional duties of postdoctoral scholars must be very minimal (e.g. up to one course, or equivalent, per year), and be consistent with the mentoring plan and career aspirations of the incumbent. These positions will be eligible for the postdoctoral scholar retirement plan as defined in S.B. 214.
Regardless of the appointment type, all teaching must be mentored. Non-tenure-track positions involving un-mentored teaching should be classified as career, pro tem, or visiting instructors or lecturers
Do we still have postdoctoral teaching scholars whose main duty is to teach?
No, all postdoctoral scholar positions must have research/scholarship as a substantial portion of their position descriptions. Non-tenure-track positions involving un-mentored teaching should be classified as instructors, be they career, pro tem, or visiting.
Can a postdoctoral scholar hold separate multiple appointments while a postdoctoral scholar?
No. Postdoctoral scholars should hold only one appointment (postdoctoral scholar) while employed at the UO. Any teaching should be incorporated into their postdoctoral appointment, assuming it meets the criteria described in the FAQ above.
Contract renewal requires an individual development plan. Where can I find resources to write one?
Information for postdoctoral scholars and their mentors for creating an individual development plan can be found on the Graduate School website.
What are the minimum salaries that postdoctoral scholars must be paid?
As of July 1, 2017, postdoctoral scholars on 12-month appointments are subject to the NIH NRSA salary floors, which increase with each year of service. NIH typically changes these rates annually. Postdoctoral scholars on 9-month appointments are subject to a different floor, set in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 26, Section 4.
Are postdoctoral scholars eligible for merit or across-the-board increases?
It depends. Postdoctoral scholars on 12-month appointments are subject to NIH salary floors. Currently, postdoctoral scholars on 12-month appointments paid above the floor do not receive any salary increases. Postdoctoral scholars on 9-month appointments may be eligible for across-the-board and merit raises.
When do 12-month postdoctoral scholars get raises?
Postdoctoral scholars on 12-month appointments will automatically get raises based on a step increase (e.g.from year 0 to year 1) on the first day of the month after the anniversary of their date of hire (e.g. if they are hired on July 17, they will get a raise on August 1) unless they are already paid above the floor of the next step. In addition, the NIH typically increases the floor for each step annually.. Postdoctoral scholars will receive a raise in their pay to the new NIH floor effective the July 1 following an NIH floor increase. These raises will not be implemented retroactively. For more information, see the Human Resources - Operations website.
How do I request an extension beyond the 3-year limit?
Requests for extensions should be routed through Human Resources - Operations. After initial review, Human Resources - Operations will forward the request to the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. The postdoctoral scholar’s mentor should initiate the request.
During my time at the University of Oregon, I have been a postdoctoral scholar as well as a courtesy postdoctoral fellow with an outside fellowship. Does all this time count towards my time limit?
Yes. Both types of postdoctoral appointments are training positions at the University of Oregon.
I have worked part-time as a postdoctoral scholar. How do you count the time in this instance?
The time as a postdoctoral scholar is counted in calendar months; any month during which you were employed as a postdoctoral scholar counts as one month towards your time limit.
During my time at the University of Oregon, I have also have been a pro tem instructor. Does this time count toward my time limit?
It depends. Any time during which you were working exclusively as a pro tem instructor or otherwise not employed as a postdoctoral scholar does not count toward the time limit. However, your time working as a postdoctoral scholar, even part-time, counts towards the 3-year/5-year limit. Note that after January 1, 2018, postdoctoral scholars may not be concurrently employed as instructors.
I have had different kinds of appointments at the University of Oregon and I am not sure exactly when I was a postdoctoral scholar. How do I find out?
You can find your appointment history on DuckWeb.
I took family leave during my postdoctoral appointment. Does that time count?
No. The clock stops when you are on FMLA or OFLA leave or if you are on leave as described in Article 32, Sec. 24 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
I am working on a second postdoctoral appointment for a different mentor at the University of Oregon. Does the clock start over?
No. The limit applies to all of your time as a postdoctoral scholar or fellow at the University of Oregon.
Why do we have this time limit?
Postdoctoral positions are training positions, not permanent positions. It is important that people move on from these positions when their training is complete.