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Speaking Out

The following was sent to Dr. Pedro Ponte-Castaneda, Chair of the Council Committee on International Programs,and to Almanac for publication.

A Resource for Postdocs

I have just read the year-end report of the University Council Committee on International Programs in (Almanac September 23). I was unaware of the existence of the Committee and was pleased to read that there has been concern over the lack of orientation programs for the international postdoctoral visitor. In addition, the report raised concerns that these individuals were vulnerable to loss of status and that such individuals made little contact with the University community.

It was for these very reasons, and others, that the School of Medicine has established the first Office for Postdoctoral Research Training in the nation. As its first director, I am pleased to inform you that our office considers the orientation process to be a pri-ority. As a first step, we are preparing orientation packages for all newly appointed postdoctoral fellows in the School of Medicine and will begin to distribute them to new postdocs. We are also scheduling orientation sessions twice annually in which the post-doctoral individual will be given resource information and hear presentations from Dr. Richard Tannen (Senior Vice Dean, School of Medicine), Ann Kuhlman (Associate Director, International Programs), and representatives from Bioethics, Chemical Hygiene, Radiation Safety and ULAR. They will also hear about the scope of services that my office can provide.

Our office was also established so that it could formally implement the "University Policy on Postdoctoral Fellows in the Physical, Biological and Health Sciences and Engineering." This policy (Almanac April 30, 1996) outlines fundamental rights for post-doctoral appointees including information on their source of funding, stipend levels, health and other benefits. It also provides a list of the obligations of postdoctoral appointees and principal investigators in conducting their duties.

In the future our office hopes to enrich the training experience of these individuals during their stay on campus.

The issues raised by your committee are important ones and I would be more than pleased to meet with its members to inform them of our office and its programs.

--Trevor M. Penning,
Professor of Pharmacology and Ob/Gyn

Return to: Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, October 14, 1997, Volume 44, Number 8