SFU Surrey is looking to the future

September 08, 2006, volume 37, no. 1

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Now that the new SFU Surrey campus is open, you might think the university could rest on its laurels for a while. In fact, says SFU Surrey executive director Joanne Curry, this is just the beginning. "We've taken the critical first steps, and built the heart of the university. With the library and key services in place, we have the core of the campus complete. Now we have to look to the future."

First on the agenda is to complete floors four and five of the podium. The fourth floor will open in January 2007, with offices and classrooms for computing sciences, and space for Mechatronics, a new engineering program that explores the interface between mechanical and electrical engineering. In September, 2007 the fifth floor will house additional teaching spaces and faculty offices for arts and social sciences, as well as business administration and TechOne.

Depending on funding and demand, Curry anticipates that the campus will expand to accommodate 5,000 students by 2015, with additional programs in the faculties of science and health sciences.

Beyond expansion, Curry envisions a deepening of the university's role in the community. "We have a unique opportunity to build deeper relations with the community as we gain more resources," she says. "Currently we have excellent relationships with the municipality [of Surrey], and we'll be working to expand our partnerships, perhaps collaborating with local manufacturers in research and development projects."

SFU Surrey is an urban campus, she emphasizes. "We're modeled after SFU's Harbour Centre campus, which has never been an ivory tower. We have always had, and will continue to have, close ties with the community."

These community ties are strongly in sync with Curry's personal vision for the campus: "I see SFU Surrey as an open, accessible university, connected with the citizens, and relevant to the community," she says. "There's something here for them—the campus is a warm and open place."

Curry envisions fostering even stronger ties to the community as the university celebrates the rich cultural diversity that Surrey offers. "I can see leveraging our local contacts with the international community," she says. One initiative, for example, might see the school collaborating with Surrey's Indo-Canadian community in establishing field schools in India.

More immediately, there are already ambitious plans to expand the campus. The first priority, Curry says, is to construct a new building to house programs in biotechnology and life sciences. A residence for first-year students may be on the agenda in a few years. While the future remains uncharted territory, there is one certainty: SFU Surrey will be a growing and dynamic presence in the Fraser Valley.

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