THIS DAY IN SFU HISTORY...
Early University News Publications Now Digitally Available
SFU50, SFU News Letter, SF Week, SFU News, Archived
By Michelle Curran
Interest in Simon Fraser University grew rapidly after the University opened its doors in 1965. To provide information to the public, SFU first relied upon the Executive Assistant to the President. This position was held for the first two semesters by R. J. Watts, an instructor in the English Department, and, in an acting capacity during the summer of 1966, by E. N. Turner, a graduate student from the same department.
In August 1966 the University hired Dennis Roberts, an experienced newsman and public relations director as its first full-time information officer. Roberts wrote news releases, prepared brochures, began a speakers' bureau to address off-campus groups, and started a campus tour program. He was assisted by a secretary and student tour guides. Because there were no vice-presidents or other senior officers in those years, the Information Officer also acted as a special assistant to President Patrick McTaggart-Cowan. Roberts wrote many of his speeches, and McTaggart-Cowan even deputized Roberts as speaker at several meetings.
With increased funding, the Information Office gradually expanded its scope. The Director hired an information assistant, and, in 1972, changed the name of the Information Office to University News Service to better describe its functions and to avoid confusion with the term "information systems." In addition to press releases, the University News Service produced several publications such as SFU Week, Comment, and Takkali.
When Roberts retired in 1982 , he was replaced by his long-time assistant Ken Mennell, who remained as Director until 1998. Mennell changed the name of the office to Media and Public Relations in 1988 to reflect the department's activities more accurately.
The department underwent a few more organizational and name changes. In 2014, the department became University Communications to better reflect the evolving role of the department and best practice.
Now, SFU Archives is making digitally accessible the early SFU News Letter / News Bulletin, Nos 1-38, as well as SF Week, Nos 39-92, from 1966-67. With support from SFU's University Priority Fund, the Archives has been able to build a digital repository to preserve digital copies of these important historical records and to make them more widely accessible in SFU AtoM.
Link to digitized records in SFU AtoM