UMN post-doc students get new office in Johnston Hall

The University of Minnesota graduate school will be creating a new office in Johnston Hall specifically for post-doctoral associates and fellows.

Kayla Song

Post-doctoral associates at the University of Minnesota are finally getting an office in Johnston Hall specific to their needs.

The new office initiative was introduced early last year and has been in the planning stages for close to a year.

Graduate school staff will appoint an assistant dean to maintain resources and services for post-doctoral students. Advertisements for the new position will be posted by the end of January.

“This is the person who I expect to become the expert … on best practices in post-doctoral advising and training,” said Scott Lanyon, dean of the graduate school.

Post-doctoral associates are at the University to conduct research and work as temporary employees for usually 12 to 24 months.

The existing graduate school office in Johnston Hall primarily serves graduate students and encourages post-docs to take advantage of grad student services, Lanyon said.

With the new assistant dean for post-doctoral affairs, post-docs will have a centralized place to raise concerns, Lanyon said. 

Post-docs make up three percent of the University population, while grad students make up nearly 30 percent, said Nick Ames, a graduate student in the agriculture department and Student Senate Consultative Committee Representative for grad students. 

Because of the size and nature of the post-doc group at the University, they have traditionally been excluded or overlooked, Ames said. 

“Because they’re so short-term, it’s very difficult to get any sort of organization … there’s so much turnover,” Ames said, adding that post-docs have had trouble with getting access to U-Passes in the past, among other issues.

“I think creating an office shows that the University is taking a greater interest in post-docs,” said Ben Campbell, a post-doctoral fellow in the agriculture department. 

Campbell said obtaining information can sometimes be hard, especially if he has questions specific to his post-doc status. Though there is a post-doc organization on campus, he says some concerns are not being addressed. 

“If you have someone charged with thinking about post-docs, then at every meeting they’re in, they’re looking out for the best interest of post-docs,” Lanyon said.