Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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SFU: The Engaged University

February 20, 2012

Today Simon Fraser University formally launches its new vision:

To be the leading engaged university defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting edge research and far-reaching community engagement.

You’ll find embedded in that short sentence our major goals: engaging students; engaging research; engaging communities.

Going forward, SFU is committed to:

1.    Equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences that prepare them for life in an ever-changing and challenging world;

2.    Becoming a world leader in knowledge mobilization by building on a strong foundation of fundamental research; and

3.    Distinguishing itself as Canada’s most community-engaged research university.

These aren’t unrelated pursuits. Indeed, it’s their dynamic integration that will define SFU as our leading scholars share their love of research with students; energetic students contribute to and benefit from the research enterprise; and everyone—students, faculty, staff, alumni—engage with the wider community as teachers, learners, and partners.

If, as I hope, this is an inspired vision, then the credit for that inspiration goes to the thousands of students, staff and faculty, and many thousands more alumni, partners and supporters in the wider community who helped to shape it.

Last February we set out to identify SFU’s strengths through one of the most extensive consultations ever undertaken by a Canadian university. We were looking for the foundation stones on which to build a strategic vision that could make a great university even better.

Now it is our challenge to turn inspiration into action. This will require a collective effort.

“A vision,” as Rosabeth Moss Kanter has observed, “is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” 

To that end, I invite you to visit www.sfu.ca/engage to read the vision and consider not only how it might benefit you, but also how you can help realize its ambitions.    

I also hope you will look through the other features on that site: the videos, the stories, and the remarkable interactive map that is starting to document just how far-reaching is SFU’s community engagement. (If you have an engagement example that should be added, drop a note to engage@sfu.ca and we’ll add your pin!)

Truly, as our new tagline says, we are engaging the world! 

There are even prizes for your engagement, ranging from tickets to SFU Woodward’s cultural events and SFU Summer Camps, to a Science AL!VE workshop for your child’s school to an SFU piper at your private event.

The greatest prize, however, is the one we can—and will—achieve together:  realizing SFU’s vision as “the engaged university."

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