John Simms, SFU Student Services Award winner

Celebrate our staff: 2007 staff achievement awards

February 20, 2008

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By Diane Luckow

It’s not surprising that John Simms, who retired recently, runs a part-time guiding business for sports fishing. After all, he spent most of his career at SFU guiding students. And it was his exceptional consideration and care for science students that earned him the 2007 staff achievement award for student services.

Over the past 13 years Simms, director of science-student liaison, devoted himself to developing strong student recruitment and counselling practices. But it was his work with individual students that he most enjoyed.

“I met with students, and their parents, when they were in Grade 11, and followed them all the way to graduation. I could see their evolution and their achievements,” he says. “I really liked that.”

When science students had problems, on campus or off, it was often Simms whom they called for help. “I’ve always had a focus that student welfare and progress were what was important,” he says. When students needed references for medical school, grad school or Rhodes scholarships, Simms was their man. He coached them for job interviews, mentored them, encouraged them. “A big thrill is when a student gets into a prestigious school,” he says.“One went to Harvard.”

Simms began his career at SFU as a chemistry instructor in 1970; after 11 years he became a co-op education coordinator and finally, in 1994, took on the job of director of science-student liaison. One of the favourite aspects of this job, he says, was acting as a facilitator to connect students with professors, job prospects, even career paths.

“It was very gratifying work,” he says.

While Simms is now enjoying life on the water, helping would-be fisherfolks with their fly-casting, he does miss the camaraderie with colleagues and students. “SFU is a wonderful place to work,” he says. “There’s a lot of freedom and creativity and it’s fun to work with bright people.”

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