MSU-PDA Bylaws

MSU-PDA Bylaws

Article I. Definition of Postdoc

A postdoc is defined as an individual having a Ph.D, M.D., or equivalent degree and temporarily working under the supervision of a faculty member to acquire the professional skills needed to pursue a career in their chosen field. At Michigan State University, this definition may apply to individuals under, but is not limited to, the following employment titles:

  • postdoctoral fellow
  • research associate
  • senior research associate
  • visiting research associate

Article II. General Information

Section 1. Name

The name of this organization shall be the Michigan State University Postdoctoral Association (MSU-PDA). Participation in the MSU-PDA and its associated activities is on a voluntary basis and postdocs have no obligation to participate in any function, event, or activity.

Section 2. Non-discrimination and diversity statement

The MSU-PDA does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of age, gender, race, disability, height, weight, marital status, national origin, political persuasion, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.


Section 3. Purpose

The purpose of the MSU-PDA is to:

  • Provide representation and a collective voice to address the concerns and advocate for the needs of MSU postdocs. 
  • Promote interactions between MSU postdocs on an academic, social, and cultural basis.

Section 4. Membership

  • Membership is automatically conferred upon all postdocs appointed within the current academic year at MSU. As such, new postdocs will be automatically added to the MSU Postdocs mailing list ( and MSU Postdocs Teams by the MSU Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (MSU-OPA) on a monthly basis.
  • Members can remove themselves from the MSU Postdocs mailing list or MSU Postdocs Teams at any time. To unsubscribe from the MSU Postdocs mailing list, the individual should send a blank email to
  • An individual remains a member of the MSU-PDA as long as the individual remains affiliated with MSU in a postdoctoral position as defined in Article I.

Article III. MSU-PDA Steering Committee

Section 1. Purpose

The purpose of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee shall be:

  • To act as a liaison between MSU postdocs and MSU administration.
  • To work with the MSU-OPA to promote and provide opportunities for career and professional development of postdocs at MSU.
  • To disseminate information relevant to MSU postdocs.
  • To organize opportunities for interactions between MSU postdocs.

 Section 2. Activities

The activities of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee will include, but are not limited to:

  • The organization of regularly scheduled monthly meetings of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee. The aim of these public meetings is:
    • To discuss areas of concern to the MSU postdoc community.
    • To plan MSU-PDA events (see below).
    • To share sub-committee updates with the rest of the Steering Committee.
    • To provide information relevant and useful to the MSU postdoc community.
  • The organization of three (3) recurring events:
    • The annual MSU-OPA and Office of Research and Innovation postdoc awards luncheon and MSU-PDA recruitment event in May.
    • The annual summer picnic in August.
    • The annual MSU National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) events in September.

Section 3: Governance 

The MSU-PDA Steering Committee shall be governed by the positions and sub-committees outlined in Article IV, and the number of members, titled positions, or sub-committees in the Steering Committee may be amended at any time as deemed necessary by common consent or majority vote by MSU-PDA Steering Committee Members.

Section 4: Membership

  • Membership on the MSU-PDA Steering Committee is a voluntary one-year commitment, except for the position of Co-Chairperson which is a voluntary two-year commitment. Ideally, Co-Chairpersons serve staggered two-year terms, such that one Co-Chairperson is in their second year (Senior Co-Chair), while the other Co-Chairperson is in their first year (Junior Co-Chair). 
  • Members may choose to end their participation in the MSU-PDA Steering Committee at any time, without any consequence or repercussion to themselves.
  • All members of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee consent to attend all monthly meetings in-person or virtually. In case of a conflict in schedule, members of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee that are unable to attend a monthly meeting are expected to inform the MSU-PDA Co-Chairpersons ahead of time and to review the meeting agenda notes after the meeting occurs.
  • All MSU-PDA Steering Committee Members will be granted access to a shared cloud storage drive and are expected to keep all relevant files and folders up-to-date, and all materials confidential.
  • Membership on the Steering Committee will be reviewed on a quarterly basis (Aug – Nov – Feb – May). Members who have been absent, without prior notice, from 3 consecutive meetings (based on review of meeting attendance sheets), uninvolved within their respective sub-committee, and/or have not fulfilled their general duties as a Steering Committee Member as outlined in these bylaws will be contacted via email to ask if they would like to continue to be a member. If they do not respond to this email, they will be automatically removed from the MSU-PDA website, MSU-PDA Steering Committee mailing list, and shared cloud storage drive.

Section 5. Elections

  • Co-Chairpersons and Sub-Committee Chairpersons (positions and duties described in Article IV) shall be elected by common consent or majority vote of all MSU-PDA Members as defined in Article II, Section 4
  • Elections shall occur annually each May, and all chairperson terms are from June 1st to May 31. 
  • To serve as Co-Chairperson or Sub-Committee Chairperson, the candidate(s) must currently be an active and contributing member of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee in any position or role.
  • All other positions within the Steering Committee shall be filled on a volunteer first-come, first-serve basis. Open positions will be advertised throughout the year on the MSU-PDA Steering Committee webpage (, and during recruitment activities annually each May.

Article IV. MSU-PDA Steering Committee Positions & Sub-Committees: Duties and Responsibilities

Section 1: Co-Chairperson 1 and Co-Chairperson 2

Duties will be divided between Co-Chairpersons as agreed upon by the two, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing overall leadership and public representation of the MSU-PDA.
  • Working closely with the administration and other entities at MSU on postdoctoral affairs.
  • Proposing agenda topics to be discussed during the monthly MSU-PDA Steering Committee meetings.
  • Leading discussions of topics during the monthly MSU-PDA Steering Committee meetings.
  • Managing the email account.

Section 2: Professional Development Sub-Committee

The Professional Development Sub-Committee shall be composed of one (1) Chair and two (2) members.

The duties of the Professional Development Sub-Committee include, but are not limited to:

  • Scheduling and attending quarterly meetings (Sept – Nov – Feb – June) with the MSU-OPA to:
    • Discuss career and professional development opportunities for MSU postdocs.
    • Brainstorm future career and professional development events to be hosted by the MSU-OPA, and speakers for events.
    • Provide feedback on career and professional development events hosted by the MSU-OPA. 

Section 3: Communications & Digital Presence Sub-Committee

The Communications & Digital Presence Sub-Committee shall be composed of one (1) Chair and two (2) members.

The duties of the Digital Presence Sub-Committee include, but are not limited to:

  • Working with the MSU-OPA to maintain and update the MSU-PDA pages on the MSU-OPA-run website (    
  • Maintaining and updating the MSU-PDA social media platforms (e.g.,Twitter, Teams).
  • Managing the email account.
  • Gathering content for, producing and distributing, the MSU-PDA Weekly Email Update which can include, but is not limited to: relevant MSU-PDA events and activities, noteworthy information relevant to the MSU postdoc community, events and activities organized on the campus of MSU or outside of the campus of MSU not directly related to the MSU-PDA, MSU postdoc achievements.
  • Collaborating with the other standing sub-committees to communicate and share relevant information to the MSU postdoc community.

Section 4: Social Sub-Committee

The Social Sub-Committee shall be composed of one (1) Chair and three to five (3-5) members.

The duties of the Social Sub-Committee include, but are not limited to:

  • Planing, coordinating, and attending monthly social events for MSU postdocs and their families with the goal of generating a sense of community. 
  • Generating announcements and flyers advertising MSU-PDA events that contain all of the relevant information for attendees. 
  • Making sure that at least one member of the committee will be present at each event.

Section 5: Advocacy Sub-Committee

The Advocacy Sub-Committee shall be composed of one (1) Chair and two (2) members. 

The duties of the Advocacy Sub-Committee include, but are not limited to:

  • Working with the MSU-OPA to advocate for the needs and address the concerns of MSU postdocs.
  • Identifying opportunities for postdoc representation within university-, college-, and department-wide committees, and drafting letters or proposals seeking postdoc representation on these committees.

Section 6: Members At-Large

The duties of the Members At-Large (unlimited number of positions) include, but are not limited to:

  • Representing the needs of the postdoc community to the MSU-PDA Steering Committee.
  • Providing assistance with decision-making and activities of the MSU-PDA when needed.
  • Serving as MSU-PDA representatives on other MSU committees, organizations, or groups (e.g., College of Natural Science DEIAC, college/building/department-specific postdoc associations). 
  • Relaying information shared by the MSU-PDA Steering Committee to postdocs in their departments and encouraging postdocs within their departments to participate in MSU-PDA organized events.

Article V. Eligibility of Steering Committee Members for Postdoc Awards

Section 1

Current and former MSU-PDA Steering Committee Members may apply for any postdoc-specific awards offered by the MSU-OPA (e.g., Spring Travel Awards, Fall Travel Awards, Postdoctoral Excellence in Research Awards, Postdoctoral Excellence in Teaching and/or Mentoring Awards) or any other MSU offices/units/departments/colleges for which they meet the eligibility requirements as outlined in the specific award application details. 

Section 2

As a benefit of their service to the MSU-PDA, Steering Committee Members may be eligible to receive travel funding to attend the Annual National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Conference. Funding is provided by the MSU-OPA and while not guaranteed, is typically available to send two (2) Steering Committee members (co-chairs, or other members with at least one year of service) to this conference each year. Attendees are encouraged to submit abstracts to facilitate sessions/workshops or give poster presentations at the conference, and/or volunteer on the NPA Meetings Committee or ad hoc volunteer at the conference.

Article VI: Changes and Amendments to Bylaws

Changes and amendments to these Bylaws, other than those formerly stated under Article III, Section 3, may be discussed and/or implemented at any time according to the discretion and two-thirds majority approval of the MSU-PDA Steering Committee members.


Steering committee voted to pass revised Bylaws document on 04/06/2018 

Steering committee voted to pass revised Bylaws document on 05/11/2020 (16 approve, 3 abstain)

Steering committee voted to pass revised Bylaws document on 03/12/2021 (15 approve, 1 abstain)