The Columbia University Postdoctoral Society (CUPS) was founded in June of 2015 as a postdoc-run organization meant to benefit both postdocs and Columbia University. Prior to the formation of CUPS, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) developed a Postdoctoral Council led by the OPA Director to garner interest in a postdoc-led organization. In the spring of 2015, the Postdoctoral Council elected four interim co-presidents across Columbia University campuses: Sonja Billerbeck, Octavi Escala Semonin, Mariangels De Planell, and Kunal Chaudhary. Their primary objectives were to develop committees, bylaws, and rules of order for a fully-fledged postdoc organization. The first bylaws were ratified in June of 2015 by members of the Postdoctoral Council and thus CUPS was born, with OPA remaining an integral contributor. The first elections for the executive committee of CUPS were then held in November of 2015. The first committee expanded upon the written bylaws to develop the Society with an eye on longevity and cross-campus interaction.
The organizational structure of CUPS was designed to encourage communication and collaboration across Columbia’s campuses, with the goal of developing a more cohesive postdoctoral community. CUPS therefore requires that co-presidents be chosen from across campuses and sets up videoconferences for its meetings to ensure that members from all campuses can contribute conveniently, to ensure that the needs of all postdocs are heard. In January of 2016, the first official meeting of CUPS was held and subcommittees were established; these included groups on Outreach & Advocacy, Networking & Community Development, and Research and Professional Development.
With a budget generously provided by the OPA, CUPS was able to hold events and garner increasing interest from the postdoctoral community. With the growth of CUPS and recognition of the positive impact that a postdoc-led group could have on Columbia University, the CUPS executive committee worked together with the Office of Research and Provost Office to secure official recognition of CUPS by Columbia University and a generous budget for activities. With this infrastructure in place and continued support from Columbia University, CUPS has been able to hold monthly professional development and social events across campuses. In conjunction with this, CUPS has become increasingly involved in advocacy efforts through the University Senate and Research Officers Committee.