Officials to reclassify postdoc researchers as trainees instead of staff

The University will reclassify postdoctoral researchers from staff to trainees as part of an effort to improve the researchers’ experience at GW, officials said in a release last week.

Officials said the University will align its quality, support and recruitment of postdocs – researchers who have earned their doctoral degree – with national standards and other “research-intensive” universities starting Jan. 1, according to a release. The release states the reclassification is in response to “feedback” from the University’s research community and will provide postdoc trainees with a minimum salary and a benefits package including comprehensive and pharmacy coverage.

Postdocs are usually experts in a specific field, where they will work to develop a particular skillset and often complete high-level tasks, like securing funding for research projects, according to the release.

Interim Provost Chris Bracey said the reclassification of postdocs as trainees reflects the University’s mission of professional development and will “raise” its research profile.

“Growth and expansion of the research enterprise at top research universities are driven, in no small part, by the presence of a robust and talented postdoctoral cohort,” Bracey said in the release. “Not surprisingly, postdoctoral trainees are a key population in GW’s research mission, working closely with our faculty to refine their research and professional skills.”

The University created plans in spring 2019 to launch an office dedicated to postdoc research to help the group feel more engaged with the GW community and increase their access to resources on campus, like career services.

Officials said the reclassification process will also establish a minimum compensation set by the National Institute of Health’s National Research Service Awards for postdocs across all disciplines. The University is expected to meet the minimum compensation guidelines by July 1, 2022, according to the release.

The release states the minimum compensation includes a new benefits package for postdoc trainees with dental, vision and life insurance, ID theft and pet insurance, according to the release. Trainees will also be offered paid time off, including annual, sick, holidays and parental leave, according to the release.

“Ideally, the new trainee classification, alongside a competitive minimum salary and benefits package, will make GW a highly attractive location for postdocs across a broad range of research disciplines,” Patrick Cox, a postdoc in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the president of the GW Postdoc Association said in the release.

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