Postdoctoral Council Charter

I. MISSION

  1. The Biomedical Postdoctoral Council (BPC, the “Council”) strives to support and enhance the experiences of postdoctoral researchers on an academic, career development, social, political and cultural basis, while also assisting departments and the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP) in this endeavor.
  2. The Council aims to support postdocs in all aspects of their professional research training and career development.
  3. The Council will act as a liaison to the postdoctoral population at large and represent postdocs' interests to the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs, the Perelman School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Monell Chemical Senses Center and the Wistar Institute, and the wider community.
  4. Co-Presidents of the Council will serve as representatives on the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs Advisory Committee.

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II. Organization

  1. The structure of the Council is defined by the by-laws that follow. However, due to the transitory nature of postdoctoral research, the Council recognizes that in some instances the laws may not be applicable/enforceable. In these cases the Council will decide upon a course of action by a majority vote.
  2. The Council will strive to maintain diversity and equal representation amongst scientific discipline and will maintain both national and foreign national representation. The Council seeks to promote diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion for all postdocs in the Council membership, leadership, and activities regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, national origin, socioeconomic status, or religion.
  3. The Council will be comprised of the following members as outlined below:
    1. Co-Presidents
      1. Two Co-Presidents (formerly known as Council Co-Chairs) will be chosen from the existing Council members. At least two weeks before the next Council meeting, the Council must be informed about any resignation and at this time the Council will be sent an email notification calling for nominations. One week before the Council meeting, a list of nominees for the position along with a brief description (no more than 250 words) of their platform will be sent to all Council members. The nominees will be allowed up to 5 minutes at the meeting to describe their goals and ambitions for the position.
      2. The new Co-President will be selected by a majority vote of the active members in attendance at that Council 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 in the week prior to the meeting to the Secretary and/or current Co-Presidents, and will be considered as in attendance at the Council meeting in that instance. An absentee vote should provide preferences (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc) in the case of there being more than 2 nominees. In the case of more than 2 nominees standing for election, the nominee with the fewest votes will be excluded and the vote retaken until a majority is obtained for one nominee. For the purpose of voting for the Co-Presidents, a Council member must have been considered an active member at the time of the previous three monthly Council meetings in order to be eligible to vote. The Secretary and current Co-Presidents will be responsible for determining eligibility to vote for the new Co-President.
      3. 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 Secretary of the requirement for a call of election 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.
      4. The Co-Presidents may not also be Secretary or Treasurer.
      5. The Co-Presidents will not normally be Chairs or Co-Chairs of any subcommittee of the Council but may be volunteers on any subcommittee of the Council.
      6. 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.
      7. At least one Co-President should normally be available to attend each Council meeting.
      8. Co-Presidents will chair the meetings of the Council. In the event that neither Co-President can attend the meeting, the Treasurer will chair the meeting.
      9. A regular monthly meeting may not be held in the absence of at least one Co-President or the Treasurer unless at the meeting a vote of no confidence in the Co-Presidents and Treasurer will be considered following the procedure described in section IV.C.
      10. If for any reason a Co-President position becomes vacant less than 2 weeks before the next Council meeting, then an interim Co-President can be elected by majority vote of the Council until the above election procedure can be followed.
    2. Secretary
      1. The role of Secretary will be elected by a majority vote of the active members of the Council present at the regular Council meeting at which the vote is held. The Secretary need not be an active member of the Council for election but must become an active member of the Council to accept the role.
      2. The Secretary will serve in that position for a minimum of 12 months.
      3. The Secretary may be a volunteer or Co-Chair of any subcommittee of the Council. The Secretary may not also be Co-President, Treasurer or sole Chair of a subcommittee of the Council.
      4. If the Secretary is unable to attend a meeting he/she must arrange for another Council member (normally the Treasurer) to take minutes and complete any other duties.
    3. Treasurer
      1. The role of Treasurer will be elected by a majority vote of the active members of the Council present at the regular Council meeting at which the vote is held. The Treasurer need not be an active member of the Council for election but must become an active member of the Council to accept the role.
      2. The Treasurer will each serve in that position for a minimum of 12 months.
      3. The Treasurer may be a volunteer or Co-Chair of any subcommittee of the Council. The Treasurer may not also be Co-President, Secretary or sole Chair of a subcommittee of the Council.
    4. Subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs
      1. Subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs are appointed by volunteering to participate on the Council.
      2. Subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs will report directly to the Co-Presidents and to the Council at the regular monthly meetings.
      3. Subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs may recruit volunteers to serve on subcommittees from the Council or the wider postdoctoral community. These volunteers should be encouraged to become members of the Council but are not required to become members of the Council.
      4. Upon accepting the role of subcommittee Chair or Co-Chair in the Council, subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs agree to try and maintain active membership for a minimum of 12 months.
    5. Regular Members
      1. Regular Members are appointed by volunteering to participate on the Council.
      2. Regular Members are usually active on one or more subcommittees, although subcommittee volunteers are not required to be Regular Members of the Council.
      3. Upon accepting membership in the Council, Regular Members agree to try and maintain active membership for a minimum of 12 months. By accepting this membership, Regular Members are considered active members for the purpose of any majority vote of the Council.
  4. Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP)
    1. The Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Research and representatives from BPP will be invited to attend monthly meetings of the Council.
    2. The BPP Office will provide administrative support to the Council as appropriate. BPP will also consider requests for financial support of Council events as appropriate, and will contribute to funding for the annual Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium as agreed to by the Council and BPP.
    3. BPP serves all postdocs of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Dental Medicine and School of Nursing, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Monell Chemical Senses Center, and additional registered postdocs of the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences, and School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Wistar Institute. As such, all postdocs represented by BPP are eligible for membership of the Council. BPP provides support and services to the postdoctoral population at large with the involvement of the Council.

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III. Membership

  1. All individuals with the title of Postdoctoral Fellow, Postdoctoral Researcher or NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Dental Medicine and School of Nursing, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Monell Chemical Senses Center, being participants with BPP, are eligible for membership on the Council. All individuals with the title of Postdoctoral Fellow, Postdoctoral Researcher or NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences, and School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Wistar Institute, who are registered participants with BPP, are also eligible for membership on the Council.
  2. The Council will be comprised of a maximum of 30 members, comprising the Co-Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs, and Regular Members.
  3. An open call for additional members can be held at any time the total number of members falls below 30.
  4. A roll of active Council members will be made available by the Secretary and/or Co-Presidents at each regular Council meeting.

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IV. Appointment

  1. Appointments shall normally be for a minimum of 12 months. Members must notify the Co-Presidents in writing at least two weeks prior to their retirement to allow sufficient time for their replacement. Members who are unable to complete their term for any reason should immediately notify the Co-Presidents in writing.
  2. Upon joining the Council all new members will be made aware of the details of this Charter of the Council by the Co-Presidents or Secretary. All retiring members will be responsible for the timely passing on of all relevant electronic resources and other materials to the Co-Presidents, new members and new subcommittee Chairs to ensure continued operation of the Council. This includes all records of past events, subcommittee activities, relevant contacts and information that may be of assistance to those continuing on the role of the retiring member.
  3. Continued Appointment: To remain active, members must attend at least half of the scheduled monthly meetings in any 6 month period. Members who are unable to attend should notify the Secretary and/or Co-Presidents in advance, and non-attending subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs should provide an update to the Secretary and/or Co-Presidents prior to each monthly meeting.
    1. Members who notify the Secretary and/or Co-Presidents that they will be unable to attend will not be considered as having missed a meeting.
    2. If a member fails to attend half (or three meetings in a row) of the scheduled meetings in any 6 month period and fail to notify the Secretary and/or Co-Presidents, he or she will be notified in writing by the Co-Presidents that they are no longer an active member of the Council.
  4. Any member of the Council may be subject to a vote of no confidence and be removed from office for malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance by a majority vote of the active Council members present at any monthly meeting of the Council. Notification of such a vote must be sent to all active members of the Council, with the knowledge of the Secretary and Co-Presidents, at least one week prior to the regular monthly meeting at which the vote will be held. This vote will be subject to the following grievance procedure: any person wishing to file a grievance must submit a letter to the Council Co-Presidents, and the Council Secretary if a Co-President is named in the grievance, outlining the grievance. The Co-Presidents and/or Secretary may present the grievance to the Council at the next monthly meeting and may seek the advice of the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Research for resolution of the grievance.

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V. Responsibilities

  1. Council Co-Presidents are responsible for the following items:
    1. Notification of the Council members and those eligible for Council membership of vacancies on the Council.
    2. Overseeing the timely appointment and/or election of new members.
    3. Co-facilitation of scheduled monthly meetings of the Council in accordance with the guidelines herein.
    4. Maintaining a record of Council meeting attendance, calling the roll if necessary, and determining if quorum is present when required, in conjunction with the Secretary.
    5. Maintaining the Council email address and in this capacity the Co-Presidents will be responsible for replying to emails or directing them to the appropriate persons/subcommittees in a timely manner.
    6. Administration of the Postdoc Discussion Listserv.
    7. Meeting together once per month separate from the regular monthly Council meetings to discuss upcoming events and requirements of the Council. The Co-Presidents shall also encourage the active collaboration of Council members and subcommittees and may meet with subcommittees separate from the regular monthly Council meetings when required.
    8. Encouraging the active involvement of the Council in the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). In this regard, at least one Council member, and usually at least one Co-President, shall attend and preferably present at the NPA Annual Meeting. The Council shall also endeavor to have at least one active Council member involved as a member of a NPA committee, and this representative shall report to the Council on activities of the NPA.
  2. The Secretary’s responsibilities are as follows:
    1. The Secretary will be responsible for keeping the minutes of each Council meeting and will distribute the call for each meeting of the Council in advance to all those eligible for Council membership.
    2. The Secretary will ensure that information from Council meetings is available to all postdocs. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that minutes of monthly meetings are posted to the Council website. The Secretary will maintain a Council membership roll in conjuction with the Co-Presidents.
  3. The Treasurer’s responsibilities are as follows:
    1. The Treasurer will solicit planned expenses from each subcommittee Chair and will consider funding requests from any of those eligible for Council membership on a regular basis and will use this information to develop an annual budget for the Council to be presented at the Annual General Meeting. The final budget will be reviewed by the Co-Presidents prior to presentation. The Council will approve normal expenditure by majority vote at any monthly meeting, and will approve the budget by majority vote at the Annual General Meeting.
    2. The Treasurer will be responsible for recording and handling all funds that the Council receives and disbursement of expenditure as approved by the Council with assistance from the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs Office and the Perelman School of Medicine Finance Office.
    3. The Treasurer will be actively involved in developing strategies to increase funding opportunities for the Council in conjunction with the Fundraising subcommittee Chair.
    4. The Treasurer will provide a detailed report on the state of the Council accounts at each monthly meeting.
  4. Subcommittee Chairs and Co-Chairs are responsible for the following items:
    1. Organizing events and acting as advocates for their respective subcommittees with input from the Council.
    2. Maintaining records of respective events and activities and providing this information to the Co-Presidents and the Council when required.
  5. All members, including Regular Members, are responsible for the following items:
    1. Attending at least one half of the scheduled monthly meetings in any 6 month period.
    2. Dissemination of all pertinent information to the postdoctoral population at large.
    3. Communication of concerns to the Council from those postdocs whom they represent.
    4. Informing postdocs of special events and helping to organize as needed.
    5. Holding informal meetings with postdocs as necessary.
  6. Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs is responsible for the following (staff permitting):
    1. Distribution of monthly meeting minutes and agendas and announcements of Council events to all those eligible for Council membership.
    2. Assistance with election of new members.
    3. Support for special events.
    4. Maintaining a current contact list of all postdocs served by BPP and therefore eligible for Council membership (see section III.A.).
    5. Ensuring that Council members are notified of the time and location of monthly meetings and that the minutes of previous meetings are distributed to Council members.

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VI. CONDUCT OF MEETINGS

  1. Time and Place

    The regular meetings of the Council shall be held on the first Monday of every month at 5:00pm, in a location to be announced by the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs Office, unless otherwise determined by the Council Secretary or Co-Presidents. Meetings will be scheduled for one and one-half hours. Unfinished business will be relegated to the next meeting.
  2. Quorum

    One-half of the active membership of the Council shall constitute a quorum. A quorum shall be necessary to amend the Council Charter. All other proposals may be passed at the regular monthly meeting by a majority vote of the active members present at the meeting.
  3. Order of Business
    1. An agenda will be distributed in advance of all scheduled meetings.
    2. The Chair of the meeting, normally one Co-President, shall call the meeting to order.
    3. Approval of minutes. A copy of the previous month's minutes will be sent by email to all Council members prior to the monthly meeting. At the meeting, the Chair 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."
    4. Reports of special representatives and standing committees. The Chair shall call only on those special representatives or standing committees who have reports to make.
    5. General orders or unfinished business. Unfinished business or general orders shall be considered in the order of the agenda. Items to be considered under this heading include:
      1. Any question that was pending when the previous meeting adjourned.
      2. Any question which was to be considered at the previous meeting but was postponed for debate.
      3. New business. The Chair shall ask if there is any new business. Members can introduce new business or remove from the table any matter that is on the table.
      4. Announcements. The Chair may make, or call upon others to make any necessary announcements; or, members can briefly obtain the floor for such a purpose.
    6. Program. If there is to be a presentation or other program, it is usually presented before the meeting is adjourned.
    7. Voting Motions shall carry if they receive a majority vote. All active members present may vote.
    8. Determination of topics for next meeting's agenda. Any person eligible for Council membership up to the day prior to the next scheduled meeting can recommend additional agenda items. Agenda items can be sent to the Council Co-Presidents with a copy to the Council Secretary.

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VII. Subcommittees

  1. Subcommittees shall be created by the Council Membership, as needed, at the regular monthly meeting to investigate and recommend action on matters that are of interest or concern to the Council.
  2. The subcommittees will be Chaired or Co-Chaired by members of the Council.
  3. Subcommittee volunteers may be specifically recruited from the general postdoc population. It is recommended but not required that the subcommittee volunteers become Regular Members of the Council.
  4. The duties of a subcommittee and its power to act on certain decisions shall be outlined at its formation and shall be approved by the Council by majority vote.
  5. There will be two types of subcommittees which may be formed:
    1. Standing subcommittees shall be created to consider matters which will have a continuing existence.
      1. These subcommittees shall be reviewed annually to determine if their continued function is necessary.
      2. The membership of the standing subcommittee shall also be reviewed annually.
      3. The current subcommittees are:
        1. Career Enhancement & Training (CET)
        2. Community Service and Outreach
        3. Diversity
        4. Environmental Action
        5. Foreign National Committee (FNC)
        6. Fundraising
        7. Newsletter
        8. Penn Editors Association (PEA)
        9. Seminars
        10. Social Activities
        11. Social Media
        12. Symposium
        13. Website

2. Ad hoc subcommittees shall be created as the need arises to perform a specific task. (i.e. surveys, events, etc.)

      1. At its formation, the ad hoc subcommittee shall be given a specific period of time to complete its task.
      2. The ad hoc subcommittee will go out of existence when its task is complete, and it has given a final report to the Council.
      3. If the ad hoc subcommittee cannot complete the task within the appointed time, the Council membership may consider extending the appointment time or dissolving the subcommittee.

F. All subcommittees shall report during the monthly meeting of the Council. Status reports from subcommittees may also be requested by the Co-Presidents on an ad hoc basis.

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VIII. Review

  1. The Council shall conduct an Annual General Meeting, at which a review of the Charter should occur.
  2. The Council shall review the Charter bylaws at least annually to ensure that they remain current.
  3. Co-Presidents will announce the review period to Council members to allow input from all members.
  4. Proposed changes should be submitted in writing to the Co-Presidents and Presidents and distributed to the active Council members at least one week prior to the regular monthly meeting for discussion at the next scheduled Council meeting.
  5. As outlined in section VI.B., proposed changes to the Charter can only be approved by a majority vote of a quorum of the Council, constituted of at least one-half of the active Council membership.
  6. This version of the Council Charter was accepted by majority vote of a quorum of the Council on June 1st, 2015.

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