Faculty

In Memoriam: Jodi Viljoen

June 22, 2022
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By: Deb Connolly

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Jodi Viljoen, a dear friend, valued colleague, committed mentor, and brilliant scholar. Dr. Viljoen was a graduate student at SFU under the mentorship of Dr. Ron Roesch where she earned her Ph.D in Clinical Forensic Psychology in 2004. Dr. Viljoen started her professional career at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln from 2004 to 2006. She returned to SFU in 2006 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2019.

Dr. Viljoen’s research focused on improving mental health and treatment services for adolescents in the justice system and the prevention of violence and offending. She was the Associate Director for the SFU Institute for the Reduction of Youth Violence, and the Coordinator of the Law-Forensic Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Viljoen published 133 articles, chapters, guides, and reports; won $4,290,183 in competitive research funding; and received various awards for her work, such as the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Investigator Award (2007-2014), the APA. Div. 41 Saleem Shah Award for Early Career Contributions (2010), and the Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence (2021). In 2020, Dr. Viljoen was inducted into the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Viljoen's research is widely cited and has been published in top-ranked journals in the field of psychology, including journals such as Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice and Psychological Assessment. In addition, Dr. Viljoen worked closely with youth justice and mental health systems in Canada and other countries to implement evidence-based practices. She created a strength-based risk assessment and treatment-planning tool that has been adopted in over 10 countries and translated into four languages. Dr. Viljoen was the director of the Adolescent Risk and Resilience Research Lab, and she trained more than 30 graduate trainees who attained high levels of research productivity and earned numerous awards for their work, including tri-council funding, early career awards, and dissertation prizes.

Dr. Viljoen was dedicated to Indigenous Reconciliation. She was co-founder of the Indigenous Reconciliation Committee in the Department of Psychology where she facilitated colloquia from Indigenous Elders and Scholars. Dr. Viljoen supported students and faculty in their journey to understanding the devastation of colonialism as she continued her own journey.  She worked tirelessly to link Indigenous students with Indigenous scholars and Elders.

Dr. Viljoen’s passing is an enormous loss to her family, students, colleagues, and friends. She was an exceptionally welcoming, collaborative, and supportive faculty member, and her energy, enthusiasm, and good humour will be sorely missed. We take some solace in the gifts of friendship, mentorship, and scholarship that she left with us.  

For students, faculty and staff experiencing grief; support is available: