People of SFU

Liny Chan sets an example through datasets

May 02, 2022
SFU Institutional Research and Planning associate director Liny Chan taking care of the office plants during remote work. Chan is the recipient of the 2021 Staff Achievement Award for Lifetime Achievement.

If you’re ever curious about SFU Institutional Research and Planning (IRP), Liny Chan is your go-to guide. Chan, IRP’s associate director, has been part of the SFU community since 1989—back when the department was still known as the Office of Analytical Studies.

As a budding analyst, Chan jumped at the opportunity to join IRP, as it would allow her to support important institutional projects from beginning to end. And over the past 33 years, there certainly hasn’t been any shortage of work. Chan has contributed to the university’s enrolment planning, been an integral part of developing the faculty allocation model and even took on the role of interim director for a spell. It’s no wonder that Chan is the recipient of the 2021 Staff Achievement Award for Lifetime Achievement.


IRP uses data collected across the university to help stakeholders make informed decisions about everything from course enrolment to faculty funding. During her day-to-day, Chan can be found working with faculties and departments across the university to deliver data, modelling and analytical reports that inform their work.

Take course prerequisites, for example. "I look at the data to try to answer, ‘How many students are we expecting?' and 'Are students more successful in this course if they take that course first?'. This helps our clients make more knowledgeable decisions while also supporting student success," says Chan.

Chan also plays a major role in computing the impact of enrolments and tuition on institutional revenues and compiling reports for the Ministry of Advanced Education. So whether it’s developing financial algorithms or budgetary projecting, Chan is there to navigate the numbers.

Dubbed a “supreme subject matter expert” by IRP director Zareen Naqvi, her knowledge and care for her work has not gone unnoticed by her team.

Says one nominator, “Liny really cares about her work and is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure that it is of the highest quality. Her thoroughness and dedication to accuracy have been an example to everyone in the office.”

Chan is also known for her mentorship and collaborative nature, always willing to share her knowledge of different topics—such as research methodology, code checking and navigating complex data nuances—with junior analysts.

But what keeps her coming back for more after three decades? “I’ve always loved playing with data and trying to make sense of it,” she says. “So really, this is my dream job to work at SFU and help people make informed choices through the numbers.”


Chan is admired for her bright spirit and fun personality in the IRP office, so it’s natural that when asked about her standout memories from her SFU journey, she beams about her team.

One of her favourite ways to bring folks together is through lunch-hour potlucks—a time to not only connect but exchange new recipes. (If quinoa cookery has you stumped, she’s got some tips.) Chan also initiated IRP’s annual Christmas cookie exchange, and although the pandemic put the festivities on hold, it will hopefully return this year by popular demand.

“If she is an excellent and meticulous worker, she is in fact an even better human being,” says one nominator.

Reflecting on this recognition, Chan sees students at the core of her work.

“I really believe in higher learning,” she says. “I believe in teaching students to be critical thinkers. So, to contribute by helping the administration make informed choices concerning students—I’m glad I can be a part of that.”

SFU’s annual Staff Achievement Awards recognize staff members for their achievements and contributions to the university or the community. The awards are a way to showcase some of the great work being done at SFU and in the community by inspired and outstanding staff members. Read more