SFU’s longest serving Senate faculty member steps down

Paul Percival attends what he estimates to be his 51st convocation ceremony at SFU.

June 14, 2018
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After 27 years, Chemistry professor Paul Percival has decided not to seek re-election as he prepares to wind down a long and rewarding career at SFU.

Percival joined SFU in 1979 and has been repeatedly elected to Senate, with the exception of one year away, since 1990. He simultaneously served on the Board of Governors from 2006 – 2012.

Percival has witnessed major shifts and exponential growth at SFU.  One of his most memorable is the enfolding of the former TechBC school into SFU and the creation of the Surrey campus. Percival also recalls opposing a new degree program that he felt had insufficient science to merit the qualification. He spoke passionately for approximately an hour on the subject and the proposal was subsequently withdrawn.

Senate is responsible for teaching and research at SFU, and the Board of Governors is responsible for the business of the University (property, revenue and policies). Both include elected student and faculty members in addition to administrators. Percival says these groups can have differing priorities, but each recognize the importance of maintaining collegial relations and they ultimately work toward the same goal of good governance of SFU.

Percival will no doubt miss playing a role in SFU’s most important matters, but as he nears the age of 70, research is what he wants to focus on.

Throughout his tenure, Percival has been studying muonium chemistry and its applications to H atom kinetics, organic free radicals and chemistry in supercritical water. He carries out his experiments at the TRIUMF lab and is inspired by “the excitement of discovering something new – finding something that nobody else has ever seen.”

Percival will continue teaching until the end of the 2018/2019 academic year and plans to remain an active researcher as an emeritus professor afterwards. He says he is “proud to have served this community of scholars to which he has belonged for the past 39 years”.

Interestingly, there will still be a Percival on Senate. Son Colin Percival   , who is an SFU alum has been a member of Senate since 2005 and is now the second most senior (length of service) of the existing members of Senate.

Percival was thanked for his services at his final Senate meeting and was presented with a gavel and a framed certificate signed by SFU President Andrew Petter.