Information for Administrators

Policy for Postdoctoral Research Fellows at the College of Engineering

The University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide serves as the University’s base guidelines for postdoctoral research fellow appointments.  The College of Engineering guidelines below are unit-specific criteria that are more restrictive than the University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide. Please see the Standard Practice Guide ( for the full University of Michigan policy.

Approval of Postdoctoral Research Fellow Appointments
Postdoctoral research fellow appointments are approved by the Department Chair with oversight by the Associate Dean for Research. (See Research Fellow Appointment Procedures below for step-by-step directions.)

Before approving a postdoctoral research fellow appointment, the department should meet the terms described below:

  1. The department has identified or will be able to identify appropriate fund sources to cover the cost of the Fellow’s fellowship and/or salary and the required University contributions to fringe benefits associated with the fellowship.
    • This fund source must cover the salary for a minimum of one year.
    • The College of Engineering expectation is that postdoctoral research fellow appointments will be 100% FTE, for a full year, at the CoE minimum salary unless there is a compelling reason to limit the term or effort level.  Appointments may not be for less than 25% FTE unless the Fellow has another funding source (Example: SPG 201.19.II.B.1. “Externally funded training grants or fellowships, which may be administered through the University or paid directly by the granting agency to the Fellow.”)
    • The Fellow’s salary must be at or above the College of Engineering minimum salary rate for postdoctoral research fellows.
  2. The department is able to make space available for the Fellow’s use.
  3. The appointment may be for one year or less, with the possibility of renewal, not to exceed a total of five years of postdoctoral training (including appointments external to UM).
  4. The mentor and the Fellow should develop an agreed-upon a proposed training program that will enhance the Fellow’s scholarship and ability as a researcher.  NSF Fellows must have a mentoring plan in place.
    • The brief description below provides a framework for a plan and can serve as a minimal plan pending the development of a more robust plan tailored to the specific circumstance.
    • The plan includes at least the following elements:

– An individual development/progress plan jointly formulated by the Fellow and mentor at the outset of employment.
– Access to courses or presentations on Responsible Conduct of Research and required attendance.
-Plan for professional growth through participation in seminars and conference travel.
-Access to tutorials on identifying research opportunities and proposal preparation
-Participation in regularly scheduled group meetings and required presentation of work.
-Meeting of the Fellow and mentor at least once per term.
-Annual written report of progress including Fellow’s self assessment.

    • The department has a conflict resolution process available to the Fellow to raise concerns or problems connected with the fellowship.

Terms and Benefits of Postdoctoral Research Fellow Appointments (SPG 201.19.II.D.1-8):
All postdoctoral research fellows will:

  1. Be required to enroll themselves and their dependents, as necessary, in the University group health and dental plans using the same rate structure that applies to University staff. The University may waive the requirement to enroll if the Fellow is covered by equivalent insurance, or for religious reasons. If the Fellow fails to enroll within thirty days after appointment, the Fellow will be enrolled as a one-person subscriber.
  2. Have the opportunity to enroll in the University group life insurance program at the same cost and under the same conditions as University faculty and staff
  3. Be covered by the University’s worker’s compensation insurance and, when travelling on University business, by the University’s travel accident insurance
  4. Be listed in the appropriate University directory(ies)
  5. Have access to the University’s libraries on the same basis as research faculty
  6. Have the opportunity to use recreational facilities and to purchase athletic event tickets and University parking permits under the same conditions and at the same cost as for University faculty and staff
  7. Upon certification by the mentor of successful completion of training, the Office of the Vice President for Research will issue a suitable recognition to the Fellow and will notify the Alumni Records Office for inclusion of the Fellow in its records.
  8. Fellows who receive a salary through their appointments, as described in section SPG 201.19.II A. 5., are eligible for:
    • Annual vacation allowance equivalent to one month in twelve (22 workdays) for fellows appointed in yearlong increments. Fellows who are either part-time (i.e. less than 100% effort) or who are appointed for at least six months but less than one year shall receive a pro-rata vacation allowance. Fellows must take vacation time during the annual appointment period. The University will not provide pay in lieu of time off.
    • Up to three weeks per year of paid sick leave, if unable to fulfill responsibilities because of personal sickness, childbirth, or injury. The Fellow may also use the three weeks of paid leave to care for a family member due to personal sickness, childbirth, or injury, or to care for his or her newly born, newly adopted or newly fostered child.
    • For complete benefit information, please go to the Academic Human Resources website. A tutorial for department staff on FMLA benefits for postdoctoral research fellows is also available.

Note: The hiring faculty and department should maintain records related to attendance and usage of vacation or sick leave allocations described in D. 8.a. and b. above. No attendance or absence records are maintained for postdoctoral research fellows by the Payroll Office or other central units. University costs associated with vacation and sick leave will be assigned to the account from which the Fellow’s salary is paid. If the account is insufficient to cover the full cost of benefits, the department must notify the appropriate fund area of Financial Operations and identify another suitable account to which the benefit costs can be charged. Sample time report.

Grievance Procedure for Postdoctoral Research Fellows
The following procedures are available to postdoctoral research fellows who wish to complain of any action or inaction, within the jurisdiction or control of the College of Engineering, which the Fellow alleges to be in violation of law or University policy or to be unfair, arbitrary, or capricious.

  1. The fellow shall seek first to resolve the matter by informal means through his or her mentor/supervisor.
  2. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily, the fellow shall then seek resolution by informal means through the mentor/supervisor’s Department chair.
  3. If the matter is still not satisfactorily resolved, the Fellow may request resolution by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The Fellow shall file a written statement with the Associate Dean stating the alleged wrong, the facts that the Fellow believes support the allegations, and the disposition of the matter at prior informal steps.
  4. The Associate Dean shall seek to resolve the matter promptly.
  5. If the matter is still not satisfactorily resolved, the Fellow may request resolution by the Dean
  6. The Dean shall seek to resolve the matter promptly.
  7. The Dean may seek advice from an appropriate standing committee, or establish an ad hoc committee for advice on the matter.
  8. Before the Dean decides a case, he or she should consult with the Office of Academic Human Resources or the Office of the General Counsel to assure correct and consistent interpretation of University policy and/or the law.
  9. When the Dean decides the matter, the Dean or his or her designee will convey to the Fellow in writing the decision and the reasons for it.

Research Fellow Appointment Procedures

New Appointments

  1. Research Fellows appointment paperwork is submitted to the College of Engineering Human Resources department.
    • The Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs provides sample appointment request forms and draft offer letters for department use. The draft offer letter is a model which contains key legal parameters; it is expected that the faculty member will use her/his preferred phrasing. The office also provides ad hoc appointment reviews at department request.

Renewal of Research Fellow Appointments

  1. Research fellows appointments are limited to 5 years (this five year total includes external appointments). Appointments beyond the 5 year limit must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. (Contact: Jen Piper,
  2. When approved, please send the HR forms to complete the reappointment to the ADAA office.

Per SPG 201.19, if circumstances arise that require the hiring unit to terminate a research fellow appointment before the specified appointment end date, before notifying the Fellow the hiring unit must first consult with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and the Office of Academic Human Resources. Please contact Jen Piper ( at the ADAA Office to initiate the process.

Offer Letter and MOU

University of Michigan Academic HR Information for departments.