Background & Rationale


The CUNY Postdoctoral Program seeks to promote the experience and enhance the sense of community among CUNY postdoctoral associates by:

(a) Professional Development Seminars and Workshops, and Inter-campus Networking Events,

(b) Competitive Travel Awards for presenting data and research findings at national conferences and,

(c) An Internet Portal for sharing news and information related to professional development.

CUNY’s 2004-2008 Master Plan recognizes that the contributions of postdoctoral scientists (postdocs) are essential to the productivity of the scientific enterprise at CUNY. It also recognizes that along with increases in research dollars coming in to the University through grants and contracts, there have been proportionate increases in the number of postdocs at CUNY. A 2005 survey conducted by the University Dean for Research identified 164 postdocs participating in research and support activities throughout the CUNY system. While the aggregate number of postdocs was impressive from a programmatic standpoint, the distribution of the postdocs across eight campuses (among seventeen different departments and inter-disciplinary programs) presents a challenge in addressing them as a group.

A recent Report of the National Science Foundation (NSF) observed that despite the increasing number of PhDs entering postdoctoral training, evidence is emerging that the experience is not meeting the needs and expectations of the postdocs: “Many postdocs who have completed their appointments are in their mid-30s, do not have the type of job for which they were trained, and lack the skills they need to succeed in their scientific careers.” The report proceeded to recommend that postdoctoral appointment must be designed to develop the recipient into an independent professional with all the skills needed to succeed and take leadership in a variety of possible careers, and not just tenure-track research university jobs. It also recommended an overt delineation of career development responsibilities between the postdoc, the research adviser and the institution.

In line with the Research goals of CUNY’s 2004-2008 Master Plan and the recommendations advanced by the NSF, the postdoctoral program is thus formulated to provide limited but critical support for the professional development of CUNY postdocs through carefully designed programs, initiatives, coordination, facilitation, knowledge sharing and encouragement. The program will bridge the inherent geographical barriers across campuses through collective events and activities, and will complement, rather than substitute or duplicate related efforts undertaken at each campus.