Top SFU News stories of 2016

December 22, 2016

By Allen Tung

For Simon Fraser University, 2016 was another year of continued success, growth and new beginnings.

SFU retained top spot in Maclean’s Magazine’s university rankings as Canada’s top comprehensive university for the third year in a row. The University now ranks as one of Times Higher Education’s top 10 universities in Canada.  As well, SFU became the first Canadian research university to gain U.S. accreditation.

A new graduate student residence and innovation facility—the Charles Chang Innovation Centre—opened at the Vancouver campus, and funding for a new building at the Surrey campus was announced.  

Here are the 12 most-read SFU News stories of 2016:

1. Think Before You Appropriate: new guide advises on ethical use of indigenous cultural heritage

A new SFU-developed guidebook, Think Before You Appropriate, is helping designers and merchandisers avoid the pitfalls of cultural appropriation, and reap the benefits of collaboration. The guidebook was created by members of the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage, directed by SFU professor George Nicholas.

2. SFU moves ahead with Surrey campus expansion

SFU’s Surrey campus is expanding with a $126-million investment for a new five-storey, 15,000-square-metre building that will house a proposed energy systems and environmental engineering program. The federal and provincial governments will provide a combined $90 million while the remainder will come from SFU and private donors. It is scheduled to open in spring 2018.

3. SFU brings whistleblower Edward Snowden to Queen Elizabeth Theatre

SFU Public Square brought whistleblower Edward Snowden to Vancouver via weblink in April for a sold-out live conversation with Metro Vancouverites at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre about the power, promise and perils of big data.

4. An SFU eSports team's journey to becoming the best in North America

Five days a week, four hours a day for two semesters. That’s how much time SFU’s leading League of Legends (LoL) electronic sports team devoted to maintaining its top-five ranking against more than 1,600 North American post-secondary institutions in the 2015-16 uLoL Campus Series.

5. Kinder Morgan tank farm expansion poses risks to SFU

According to a report prepared for SFU, plans to triple the capacity of the tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, as part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project, pose significant health and safety risks to the University community.

6. SFU becomes first Canadian research university to gain U.S. accreditation

SFU was granted accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) after a  seven-yearcomprehensive and rigorous  process. Accreditation gives the University added recognition for its commitment to excellence and for the quality of its programs, particularly in the international arena.

7. SFU ranked a top 10 university in Canada according to the World University Rankings

SFU jumped four spots in Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings and now ranks as one of the top 10 universities in Canada. The University also improved its world ranking, moving from a bracket that placed it among the top 300 universities worldwide last year to one of the top 250 schools worldwide this year.

8. SFU Pipe Band brothers recognized by VPD for bravery

SFU students Brian and Graham Haddon, who are also members of the SFU Pipe Band, were recognized for their role in assisting at a motor vehicle accident in August 2014. They were awarded the Vancouver Police Board's highest civilian honour, the Certificate of Merit.

9. SFU engages your tastebuds

SFU’s April Fools’ Day video has become an annual tradition. This year, the University teamed up with Renaissance Coffee’s Parminder Parhar to “launch” a new coffee creation—the poutine latte. What does SFU have in store for 2017? Stay tuned.

10. Big data degree reaps big rewards

The first class of the SFU master’s in big data program graduated during this spring’s convocation. Eleven of the 13 graduands landed full-time jobs prior to graduation, illustrating the strengths of SFU’s program.

11. Charles Chang: entrepreneurial instinct

Charles Chang, an SFU alumnus, donated $10 million to the Beedie School of Business—the second-largest gift the school has ever received—to establish the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.

12. SFU researcher discovers key to why primary cancer tumours spread

SFU molecular biologist Tim Beischlag discovered a cellular mechanism that transforms many kinds of primary cancer cells into more aggressive cancer cells that can enter the bloodstream and spread to other organs. His discovery is allowing scientists to begin developing new therapeutic drugs that preferentially attack cancer cells, rather than all cells.