Thank You President Petter for 10 Amazing Years

July 30, 2020

After serving SFU for 10 years, Andrew Petter will step down from his position as the university’s president at the end of August, and under his leadership, what a decade it has been for the growth and development of the Surrey campus.

In the space of this short blog, it’s impossible for me to speak to all of the ways SFU has grown and engaged communities south of the Fraser during his tenure, but there are a few highlights I’d like to share. I also know that Andrew is very modest about his accomplishments, but I do want give him a Surrey campus shout out!

As some of you may not know, prior to becoming SFU’s ninth president, Andrew served as BC’s Minister of Advanced Education from 1998 – 2000. At that time, few understood how a university in the heart of Surrey’s city centre could transform an entire region, but he did. Fast forward to 2012, Andrew’s vision for SFU to be Canada’s most community-engaged research university helped the Surrey campus’ academic, research and community engagement programs and initiatives thrive.

As a result of Andrew’s leadership, the Surrey campus has now become an academic and research hub in areas that include sustainable energy, health technologies and new media, as well as a regional hub for entrepreneurial initiatives supported by Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection. This, and the growing number of programs now offered at the Surrey campus, has significantly contributed to the growth of the campus population.

The focus on community engagement has increased SFU’s partnerships in the region, in particular, with the City of Surrey, Fraser Health, Surrey Schools, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association and the Surrey Board of Trade, as well as with community-serving agencies and groups supporting newcomer settlement and Indigenous communities south of the Fraser. To this point, Andrew supported the partnership between SFU and the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee that reflects his and the university’s commitment to strengthen relationships and engagement with Indigenous communities south of the Fraser. In addition, the launch of the SFU Surrey TD-Community Engagement Centre in 2013 has grown the campus’s connections to our local community.

And of course, there’s the Surrey campus expansion. The new building, now home to SFU’s Sustainable Energy Engineering program, can be credited to the tireless advocacy of Andrew, SFU senior leaders and supporters to create more post-secondary learning opportunities for youth in the region.

On a more personal note, I had the privilege of working closely with Andrew on C2UExpo-2017 For the Common Good, a conference hosted by SFU to celebrate, support and further the connection between community engagement and community engaged research. Many of the 600 conference delegates that attended were so impressed by the amount of time and energy he and others showed to ensure the success of the conference. In fact, I recall President Petter attended all the plenaries and evening events, hosted a meeting of university presidents from across Canada. On the last day, he had lunch with a group of conference ambassadors. These ambassadors, all of whom experienced barriers to employment, were absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to sit and dine with SFU’s President.

As many of you will know, one of my favourite words is authentic. Well, for the last 10 years we have had an authentic and genuine president who walked the talk of engagement, and who gave so much of his time and energy to the Surrey campus. Thank you, Andrew, for your dedicated leadership, your passion and vision for engagement. I have no doubt that SFU Surrey will continue to be an engaged, post-secondary leader south of the Fraser.

Steve Dooley and Andrew Petter welcome folks into the new SFU Surrey building.