Mission Statement and Bylaws

This version (edited on October 1st, 2020) has been approved by the Yale Postdoctoral Association Executive Board on October 7th 2020.

 

1. Mission

The Yale Postdoctoral Association, hereafter referred to as the YPA, exists to support and enrich Yale’s mission in the pursuit of scholarship, education, preservation, and practice, through facilitating postdoctoral scholars at Yale University in their efforts toward the betterment of the University and society by:

  1. Acting as a liaison for postdoctoral scholars to the University and representing the interests of postdoctoral scholars to the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) and to the Schools and Offices of Yale University.
  2. Supporting the professional development of postdoctoral scholars by connecting them to Yale University resources and enriching the available career development opportunities.
  3. Fostering connections between postdoctoral scholars to create a community at Yale University.
  4. Encouraging inclusion and diversity among all postdoctoral scholars at Yale University and advocating on their behalf to achieve a supportive and enriching environment.
  5. Strengthening the skills of postdoctoral scholars as both mentors and mentees by facilitating access to opportunities for mentorship training and experience.
 
The YPA seeks to promote diversity and inclusion for all postdocs in YPA membership, leadership, and activities regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, national origin, religion, or socioeconomic, marital, or family status across all disciplines and departments at Yale.
 
The YPA welcomes all individuals with other titles who had previously been working as a Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University, guests of current Yale postdocs, and guests of the YPA to participate in YPA events. However, current postdocs and Associate Research Scientist (ARS) have priority at events with limited space.
 

2. Membership

The YPA considers all individuals with the title of Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow (hereafter referred to as postdocs) at Yale University, members of the YPA.
 

3. Organization

The governing body of the YPA shall be the YPA Executive Board, hereafter referred to as the Board. The Board shall oversee the creation and management of activities, partnerships, and overall vision of the YPA in accordance with its mission. The Board is comprised of all Committee Coordinators (two per Committee) and shall be overseen by two (2) Chairs supported by two (2) Secretaries and the Advisory Board. Committees may determine or define additional named positions and structure within their own committees.

The YPA shall be organized into the following working Committees:
  • Advocacy
  • Communication
  • Community and Networking
  • Mentorship
  • Professional Development
  • Symposium
  • Treasury
The names, aims, and activities of the roles and Committees above are defined in the following paragraphs.
 
Each YPA Committee shall have specific aims and its activities shall be overseen by the two (2) YPA Committee Coordinators. When elected, they shall hold the office for one calendar year (12 months) unless prevented by unforeseen circumstances. The Committee Coordinators, Secretaries, and Chairs can create ad hoc positions and subcommittees to support the ongoing initiatives of their teams. Ad hoc positions shall take the form of commissions, consultants, proxies, or assignees and shall be either standing or temporary as decided by the Board. The YPA Committee members are volunteers involved in initiatives and activities undertaken by a given YPA Committee.
 
Any changes or amendments made to this document shall be compiled by the YPA Chairs and affirmed by the majority of the Board through a formally written vote (written or electronic).
 

4. Roles

4.1 Chairs

The role of the Chairs is to lead the YPA in collaboration with the Board. Therefore, the responsibilities of the YPA Chairs are as follows:
  • Schedule the YPA Open Forums and prepare and disseminate the agenda before the meetings.
  • Maintain a strong and active relationship with the Provost’s Office and the OPA.
  • Maintain active relationships with the Board.
  • Ensure suggestions, issues, and concerns brought to the YPA are discussed in the monthly YPA meetings.
  • Oversee the timely election of new Board Members.
  • Maintain the YPA email address by replying to emails or directing them to the appropriate YPA Committee in a timely manner.
  • Communicate at least once a month about upcoming events, activities, and partnerships with the organization.
  • Encourage active participation of postdocs and YPA members in Committees and meet with the appropriate Committees when required.
  • Encourage and facilitate the active participation of the YPA in the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) in collaboration with the OPA. The chairs shall endeavor to keep up to date with respect to the activities of the NPA or have another YPA member responsible for reporting.
  • Schedule the Executive Board Bylaws Meeting to review and amend the Mission and the Bylaws of the YPA.
  • Ensure liaison positions are filled as specified in section 4.9. and that the current Advisory Board members are active.
 

4.2 Secretaries

The role of the Secretaries is to maintain records of the YPA’s activities, ensure that each meeting progresses smoothly, and finalize both the meeting agenda and the meeting minutes. Additionally, they will be the point of contact for coordination with Postdoctoral Associations at other Universities. To this end, the responsibilities of the YPA Secretaries are as follows:
 
  • Collect the proposed agendas from each Committee at least one (1) week before the YPA Open Forum and create a final meeting agenda which will be sent to the YPA chairs at least two (2) days before the monthly meeting.
  • Discuss the draft agendas for the YPA Open Forums with the Chairs.
  • Ensure that during YPA meetings, the discussion generally adheres to the agenda and that each committee receives ample time to address the Board.
  • Record, archive, and disseminate the minutes from the YPA Open Forum on the YPA webpage within fourteen (14) days of the meeting.
  • Create a culture of inclusion by ensuring that all ideas and thoughts are represented.
  • Maintain and curate YPA records.
  • Maintain accurate contact information of current and previous Board Members, and the members of the Advisory Board.
  • Maintain a record of both the YPA Open Forum and the YPA Executive Board Meeting attendance and determine if a quorum is present when required.
  • Archive any Committee meeting summaries sent by Board Members.
  • Archive any videos and photos, and records of attendance at YPA events.
 

4.3 Advocacy Committee

The role of the Advocacy Committee is to advocate on behalf of postdocs to address unmet needs in the postdoc community. This includes issues related to inclusion, diversity, and the general well-being of postdocs. The Committee will also identify areas where the YPA can support postdocs to enrich their experience at Yale University. The responsibilities of the Advocacy Committee are as follows:
 
  • Recruit Committee members to advocate on behalf of specific groups of postdocs (for example, parents, postdocs of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals) or specific issues (for example, mental health, visas).
  • Identify and promote solutions for issues facing postdocs at Yale University such as affordable and safe housing, health insurance, and fair wages.
  • Collect demographic data on Yale University’s postdoc community to identify underrepresented groups and educate the Yale University community on these disparities.
  • Develop and organize YPA events to support and celebrate diversity and inclusion of all postdocs within Yale University, and collaborate with the Communication Committee to advertise these events.
  • Maintain a strong relationship with campus entities such as the OPA, Medical School Dean of Diversity, the Yale Minority Scientist Research Network, and the Provost Advisory Committee for Postdoctoral Affairs in order to represent postdoc needs and work collaboratively toward productive action for underrepresented postdocs at Yale University.
  • Communicate relevant on-campus and off-campus events that support and celebrate a diverse Yale University/New Haven community and collaborate with the Communication Committee to advertise these events.
  • Generate and maintain a collection of on-campus and off-campus resources to empower the postdoc community, particularly members of underrepresented groups, those with disabilities, and individuals facing discrimination or harassment.
 

4.4 Communication Committee

The Communication Committee shall manage communication within the YPA and from the YPA to the postdoctoral community, the OPA, and between the YPA and other Communities. To achieve these goals, the responsibilities of the Communication Committee are as follows:
 
  • Collaborate with Committee Coordinators to advertise YPA events and other events relevant for the postdoc community.
  • Assist the YPA Chairs in mediating the internal communications within the Board.
  • Manage all aspects of YPA website and keep the sections up to date.
  • Manage all aspects of the YPA presence on social media.
  • Collect, manage, and use the mailing list.
  • Safeguard the privacy of postdocs within the boundaries of its tasks and maximize transparency regarding data usage.
  • Use Mailchimp to advertise YPA-hosted events.
  • Collaborate with OPA to advertise the YPA within the postdoc community.
  • Promote the mission and values of the YPA to other communities inside and outside of Yale University and mediate the initial contact between these organizations and the appropriate YPA Committees.
 

4.5 Community and Networking Committee

The role of the Community and Networking Committee is to organize events to bring postdocs together in informal settings with the goal of facilitating collaboration and friendships across all disciplines at Yale University. The responsibilities of the Community and Networking Committee are as follows:
 
  • Maintain a strong relationship with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), which includes sustaining a productive dialogue, representing postdoc needs to the OISS, organizing events in collaboration with the OISS, and ensuring postdocs are aware of opportunities provided by the OISS.
  • Collaborate with other campus organizations to facilitate networking opportunities for postdocs on campus and in the community.
  • Organize monthly Postdoc Social and Happy Hour.
  • Develop and organize YPA events focused on networking and community outreach and collaborate with the Communication Committee to advertise these events.
  • Develop and organize a wide and vibrant variety of events as a source of well-being and intellectual wealth for postdocs such as outdoor and indoor sport activities, music, art, and cultural events.
 

4.6 Mentorship Committee

The role of the Mentorship Committee is to organize events, seminars, and workshops to promote successful mentorship practice. Furthermore, the Committee shall bring postdocs and potential mentors and mentees together to facilitate the development of new mentor-mentee relationships. The responsibilities of the Mentorship Committee are as follows:
 
  • Develop and organize YPA events focused on mentorship and collaborate with the Communication Committee to advertise these events.
  • Maintain and develop the YPA Buddy Program in collaboration with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to help incoming postdocs with their transition to Yale and New Haven, and to facilitate communication between incoming and current Yale postdocs, strengthening the postdoc community.
  • Sustain a productive dialogue and collaborate with the OPA, the Office of Career Strategy (OCS), the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and other professional development organizations on campus to organize seminars and workshops related to mentorship.
  • Ensure that postdocs are aware of mentorship opportunities, events, and resources through other on-campus and off-campus organizations.
 

4.7 Professional Development Committee

The role of the Professional Development Committee is to organize career events, seminars, and workshops with the goal of preparing postdocs for careers both inside and outside of academia. The responsibilities of the Professional Development Committee are as follows:
 
  • Develop and organize YPA events focused on career development and collaborate with the Communication Committee to advertise these events.
  • Maintain a strong relationship with the CTL, including sustaining a productive dialogue, representing postdoc needs to the CTL, organizing events in collaboration with the CTL, and ensuring postdocs are aware of opportunities provided by the CTL.
  • Maintain a strong relationship with the Office of Career Strategy (OCS), including sustaining a productive dialogue, representing postdoc needs to the OCS, organizing events in collaboration with the OCS, and ensuring postdocs are aware of opportunities provided by the OCS.
  • Ensure that postdocs are aware of opportunities and events hosted by other on-campus organizations related to professional development at Yale University.
  • Collaborate with other professional development on-campus organizations to co-organize events of interest to postdocs.
  • Compile and maintain a collection of on-campus and off-campus resources to support postdoc career development.
  • Build relationships with off-campus organizations to provide YPA members with opportunities for career development and education.
  • Connect the YPA community with prospective employers to facilitate networking and professional development through off-campus visits and posting job openings on the YPA website.
 

4.8 Symposium Committee

The role of the Symposium Committee is to organize the Annual Postdoc Symposium. The responsibilities of the Symposium Committee are as follows:
 
  • Broadly advertise all material related to the symposium university-wide to ensure the inclusion of as many postdocs as possible while improving the visibility of the important work that Yale postdocs do.
  • Provide clear guidance for the preparation of abstracts and presentations, supporting participants in developing their work for discussion with a broad audience.
  • Include a diverse range of presentations, representing as many different departments and research areas university-wide as feasible.
  • Form subcommittees and juries to ensure fair and transparent evaluation of abstracts, talks, and posters.
  • Develop and implement networking opportunities for symposium attendees.
 

4.9 Treasury Committee

The role of the Treasury Committee is to oversee and track the spending of the YPA annual budget, and also identify the YPA events for which sponsorship could be sought from outside of Yale. The responsibilities of the Treasury Committee are as follows:
 
  • Communicate with the Coordinators of all existing Committees and make the budget spending plan at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  • Document any sponsorship received. 
  • Familiarize themselves with and strictly follow the Yale fundraising regulations and the common communications code of conduct.
  • Track the usage of the purchasing card between the OPA and event organizers.
  • Request financial report and ensure that expenses and receipts for purchases are well accounted for and in sync with the Provost’s Office. 
  • Prepare a budget proposal for the Chairs to use to secure institutional support for the YPA for the upcoming fiscal year.
  • Draft and maintain a running budget and record money allocation among the Board.
 

4.10 Liaisons

The role of the Liaisons is to maintain strong relationships between the YPA and the following organizations. This includes sustaining a productive dialogue, representing postdoc needs, facilitating the organization of events, ensuring postdocs are aware of opportunities and the handing over of their role to incoming Liaisons in a way that maintains strong relationships.
 
  • YAA: The Liaison to the Yale Alumni Association (YAA) shall maintain a strong relationship between the YAA and the Board. 
  • CTL: The Liaison to the CTL shall facilitate cooperation with CTL.
  • OCS: The Liaison to the OCS shall facilitate cooperation with OCS and attend the monthly Student Advisory Board meeting to engage with the OCS and other student/postdoc groups on campus.
  • OISS: The Liaison to the OISS shall facilitate cooperation with OISS.
  • Chaplain’s office: The Liaison to the Chaplain’s office shall maintain a relationship with the Yale University Chaplain’s Office to foster respect and mutual understanding among people of different faiths and cultures, as well as explore the intersection between faith and contemporary scholarship.
  • West Campus: Liaison(s) to West Campus facilitate promotion of YPA events and initiatives at West Campus and ensure that West Campus postdoc needs and concerns are represented within the YPA.
  • Title IX: The liaison to the Title IX office facilitates cooperation with the Title IX office and coordinates relevant trainings offered by the Title IX office for Yale postdocs.
  • Graduate Student Assembly (GSA): The liaison to the GSA will facilitate cooperation with the GSA by recognizing common goals between our groups and enabling coordinated progress towards those goals.
 

4.11 YPA Advisory Board

The YPA Advisory Board is comprised of all former Board Members and friends of the YPA who want to stay engaged and informed of the developments at the YPA and who want to help shape the organization. To be on the Advisory Board, former YPA members and friends of the YPA shall provide the YPA Secretaries with their current email addresses. The Advisory Board has an advising role to the current Board without any executive responsibilities.
 

5. Meetings 

5.1 YPA Open Forums

The YPA Open Forums shall be open to all postdocs and interested parties. They shall be held monthly, unless prevented by extraordinary circumstances as decided by the YPA Chairs. The location and details of the YPA Open Forums shall be determined by the YPA Chairs and distributed to the postdoc community. The Open Forums shall be convened with the purposes of (i) conducting any business of the YPA and YPA Board that cannot be effectively carried out using other channels; (ii) exposing the discussion, planning, and activities of the YPA to the Yale postdoctoral community; and (iii) providing members of the Yale postdoctoral community a forum for addressing and engaging with the YPA. Each Open Forum shall reserve a period at the end of the agenda for the solicitation of questions and concerns from postdocs who are not members of the YPA Board. The Board Members shall make an effort to encourage members of their respective YPA Committees to attend and take an active part in the YPA Open Forums. Individual Committee Meetings shall be held either as needed or at the request of a given Committee Coordinator.
 

5.2 YPA Executive Board Bylaws Meeting

The YPA Executive Board Bylaws Meeting shall be held once a year, in August or September, to review and amend the Mission and the Bylaws of the YPA. Only the Board Members shall attend the meeting. It shall be scheduled and organized by the YPA Chairs and attended by at least one of the Coordinators of each of the YPA Committees (presence of both Coordinators is strongly encouraged).
 
Board Members shall propose changes or amendments to the YPA Mission Statement and/or the YPA Bylaws and the YPA Chairs shall collect and compile these changes or amendments and distribute among the Board Members at least seven (7) days before the YPA Executive Board Bylaws Meeting. If the Bylaws require further update after the formal YPA Executive Board Bylaws Meeting, a revised copy of the Bylaws must be distributed to Board members at least (7) days after the meeting and before an affirmation vote. The finalized amendments shall be affirmed through a formal open vote by the Board Members. Absolute majority is required for the vote to pass.
 

5.3 YPA Executive Board Meetings

The YPA Executive Board Meetings shall be held only when needed, when the chairs judge that necessary YPA business cannot be conducted at the Open Forum for one or more of the following reasons: (i) there is insufficient time during the Open Forum to conduct the necessary business; (ii) the necessary business is of a sufficiently sensitive nature to make its discussion at the Open Forum inappropriate; or (iii) the necessary business is of sufficiently urgent nature to make its discussion at the next Open Forum ineffective.
 

6. Elections

The elected positions of the Board shall be the YPA Chairs, the YPA Secretaries, and the YPA Committee Coordinators.
 

6.1 The YPA Secretaries and Committee Coordinators

The YPA Chairs shall announce the open Secretary or Coordinator position at least two (2) consecutive YPA Open Forums before that position should be filled. The YPA Chairs shall run the approval proceedings at latest during the second YPA Open Forum following the announcement of the open Board position.
 
If advance announcement of the open Board position is impossible due to unforeseen circumstances, the YPA Chairs shall announce the vacancy no later than seven (7) days after learning of its existence and approval of nominated candidates shall be held at a time jointly decided by the YPA Chairs but no later than two YPA Open Forums after the vacancy arises.
 
The announcement of an open Board position shall be disseminated by the communications committee. 
 
Any postdoc wishing to fill an open Board position shall express their interest no later than 14 days after the vacancy has been announced. They shall do so in a  letter delivered to the YPA Chairs, preferably by email to the ypa@yale.edu address and copied to the current coordinators of the committee of interest.
 
The YPA Chairs shall inform the relevant current committee coordinators of the candidate(s) wishing to fill an open position on their committee after the aforementioned 14-day limit has passed. In the event that no candidates have come forward in 14 days, the Chairs will inform the relevant current committee coordinators as soon as a candidate steps forward.
 
Members of each committee for which a candidate coordinator is proposed will be responsible for determining which candidate they will nominate for official approval of the board. Each committee member has the right to vote and may do so by supporting one (1) candidate by formally written or electronic vote in elections organized by the committee coordinators. Elections take the form of a secret ballot. They may be held either during a committee meeting or via the internet assuming the condition of the secret ballot is met. Simple plurality shall decide which candidate wins the election. In the case of a tie, the candidate with the most seniority, as defined by attendance at committee meetings, will automatically be selected for nomination.
 
Committees will submit their nomination of a single candidate to the YPA chairs via email (ypa@yale.edu) no later than one week before the scheduled approval vote. Committees will also include a description of their nomination process to the YPA chairs in the same email. 
 
The Board will formally approve nominated candidates for each open position through a  vote. This vote may take place during an Open Forum or via the internet. 
 
Every postdoc and ARS is eligible to serve as a YPA Coordinator or Secretary on the Board provided that they intend, to the best of their knowledge, to remain a Board Member for the entire duration of their term, which is 12 months. However, ARS require executive board approval in order to be considered for board positions. If necessary, the length of the term may exceed 12 months until a new Board Member has been elected.
 

6.2 The YPA Chairs

The YPA Chairs shall announce the open Chair position at least three (3) consecutive YPA Open Forums before that position should be filled. The procedures described here regarding voting will be followed regardless of the number of Candidate Chairs. Members eligible for the Chair position are postdocs and ARS with greater than 50% attendance at the YPA Open Forums and at least one (1) year of YPA committee membership, or at least six (6) months of board membership. However, ARS require executive board approval in order to be considered for the chair position. Further, if the continuing chair holds the title of ARS, Candidate Chairs must hold the title of Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow such that at least one chair position is filled by a postdoc at all times. Candidate Chairs must intend, to the best of their knowledge, to remain Chair for the entire duration of their term, which is 12 months.  Candidate Chairs should announce themselves at the Open Forum at least two (2) months before the election deadline. Candidate Chairs are required to provide a brief biography and personal statement that can be used to send out to the Postdoc Community for voting. The Candidate Chairs will be presented to the Postdoc Community one month before the deadline. This will be done through a dedicated email sent out to all Postdocs by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Each Postdoc will have one vote and the vote will be recorded anonymously through an online voting system. Postdocs will be given the option to rank their Candidates with rank 1 being most preferred, rank 2 being second preference and so on. Polls shall be open 1 full week and after that week the results will be presented to the Postdoc community. The Candidate Chair with the most votes will be chosen as the new YPA Chair. In the case of a tie there will be a majority vote of the current Board.