Rahilly focuses on student services

Sep 04, 2003, vol. 28, no. 1
By Julie Ovenell-Carter



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SFU's new director of student development and programming Tim Rahilly (left) always planned to work with students - he just thought it would be as an educational psychologist.

But in 1997, while Rahilly (rhymes with Wally) was completing his PhD in educational and counselling psychology at McGill University, his career plan shifted when he caught wind of an intriguing job opportunity.

“Air Canada was looking for a corporate training manager in Montreal, and I liked the idea of being able to apply my skills in leadership and management training, and individual assessment.” He promptly landed the job, which kept him travelling 200 days a year.

A few years later, Rahilly followed his partner west and decided to go back to school - first as director of learner services at the former Tech B.C. (now SFU Surrey) and then as associate director of student and financial aid at the University of British Columbia. Last March he joined SFU, charged with the responsibility of designing, delivering and evaluating “programs that maximize student academic and personal success.”

He took the newly created position in part “to keep an eye on those students I knew from Tech B.C who are now at SFU. I wanted to help SFU fulfill its commitment to provide equal services to those students.” Beyond that, he wants to try to improve the breadth and delivery of student services at SFU, which currently rate behind other comparable institutions in the annual Macleans magazine ranking of Canadian universities.

“SFU's strength is the range of its specialized services such as physiotherapy for students, the interfaith centre, the numerous healthy living courses. However, the greatest challenge is for all those areas to work together to provide a more cohesive program. My sense is that at the moment there are some gaps in the delivery of those services because so many areas are working independently of each other.”

Rahilly sees himself as “an advocate for student success. I know good things are happening out there. My job is to get people connected and talking.” To that end, he invites interested student leaders, staff and faculty members to contact him at Tim Rahilly or 604-291-6754 to become part of a new working group to discuss how to better “sustain the week of welcome momentum and continue to build a vital, integrated campus community.”

“When we do our job right,” says Rahilly, “our students graduate as happy, well-adjusted people who know how to get along in the wider world. But we have to continue to strive to help them develop all aspects of themselves - not just their intellect.”

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