Warren Gill dedicated his thirty-three year career to helping build SFU’s definition of the university as an integral part of our community. He worked in a number of senior administrative positions and his last as vice-president, university relations. Warren died in the fall of 2010 after living like each day was his last.
“Warren was a huge part of the growth and success of SFU,” says former SFU president Michael Stevenson, who worked closely with Gill. “He was the right-hand man to [former president] Jack Blaney as the downtown campus was built out and he expanded his vision to the whole university and was a big part of the development of the Surrey campus and the new School for the Contemporary Arts at Woodward’s.”
A Vancouver native with a PhD in urban geography from the University of British Columbia, Gill joined SFU ’s geography department in 1977 and quickly became a champion for the creation of a downtown Vancouver campus. He was intimately involved in all stages of that development, which grew from the original Harbour Centre complex to include the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, the Segal Graduate School of Business, and SFU Woodwards which includes SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, SFU’s Cultural Programs, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. He was also instrumental in the development of SFU’s Surrey Campus in Central City, Surrey.
Outside of his administrative work at SFU, Warren taught evening geography courses, served on many university committees, and regularly supervised graduate and honours undergraduate students. Committed to maintaining his academic interests, he wrote and commented extensively on urban affairs, transportation, the cruise industry, and popular music.
Warren believed strongly that public service was a civic duty and that was an extension of his work at SFU. He held volunteer positions at a wide variety of organizations including the Vancouver Academy of Music, the Museum of Vancouver, the United Way, the Downtown Vancouver Association, and the Economic Leadership Council for Greater Vancouver. He also served on the SFU Community Trust Board.
A recipient of the UBC geography alumni’s 2000 distinguished geographer award, he was a member of a number of professional organizations including the Canadian Association of Geographers, the Association of American Geographers and the World Congress on Transport Research. He was also a board member of the Western Regional Science Association.
Warren played bass guitar regularly with local classic rock and R&B bands and wrote and published occasionally on the subject of music.
He is fondly remembered for his tremendous energy, quick wit, contagious enthusiasm, great sense of fun and the pride he had for working at SFU.