ED Blog

And then there were 5... Years

October 31, 2018

The end of Halloween, October 31st, marks the end of my first five years at SFU.

It is amazing how time really does fly when you are having fun; in a blink of an eye as they say.

I wanted to use this special installment of my Executive Director’s blog post to stroll down memory lane as I  look towards the next five years.

I remember those first few months at SFU. Being introduced to the Surrey campus by its former E.D., Joanne Curry. How welcoming and supportive everyone was. My first SFU Diwali and SFU Surrey’s President’s Gala’s. Had to invest in some new duds!  Learning all about the day-to-day operations from facilities manager Marie Schneider and IT client services manager Shelley Sluggett. Campus administration office manager Maureen McConnell telling me, “don’t you dare try to enter anything in your calendar. Your calendar is mine!.” At first, I didn’t understand what she meant by this and then, one screw up by me later, I did. I was learning all about the wonderful, organic, friendly, and meaningful  Surrey campus vibe!

When I look back on those first 5 years what really comes to mind are the wonderful people I have met along the way. I remember the first time I met Farid Golnaraghi, director of the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering. I was sitting in his office and, looking behind him, I saw all the Ph.D. theses of students he has guided over the years. A whole bookshelf! All this knowledge he nurtured and supported.  But at the same time, I found Farid to be so down to earth, a colleague I could crack a joke with.

SFU Surrey faculty are an extremely accomplished group as measured by research and class-based success, are generally a very down to earth lot. Like all of us at SFU Surrey, they are part of that Surrey Vibe, a dynamic that places us on the same team, no matter if one has reached the highest pinnacle of academic success or helps to move tables and chairs to set up for the next campus event.

I’ve also been awestruck by the passion of students, many of whom are becoming amazing young innovators. I’ve also found myself lost in Virtual Reality, deciphering scenes created by brilliant students from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, where creative technologies research is leading edge.

One personal highlight for me is how the campus came alive during C2UExpo 2017 – The Community Jam. The opening session, the blanketing ceremony conducted by Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel, her husband Kevin Kelly and their son Michael Kelly Gabriel; the Ambassadors program, persons with barriers to employment working alongside SFU student volunteers; the chance to celebrate the Surrey campus with people from all over the world.

And I’ve watched as the Surrey campus has become a hub for community engagement. Over the last five years the number of events hosted here has jumped 26 per cent. Our friends at the Simon Fraser Student Society are leading the way, nearly tripling their events over past years.

Over the next five years, more growth is on the horizon. You may have heard about the new building nearing completion across the road. The 160,000 square foot building will be home to the new Sustainable Energy Engineering program. With such features as a 400-seat lecture theatre and a multi-purpose room (think Yoga and other exercise classes), the building will be for all faculty staff and students. The Surrey campus vibe will most assuredly cross the street to our new digs once open in 2019.

The David Bowie song, Five Years ends with these lines:

We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
We've got five years, that's all we've got

After all that I’ve learned about SFU Surrey these past five years, I would definitely agree with the first line, but can’t agree with the second. I’m looking forward to working with the amazing SFU Surrey team for at least five more—and to what we’ve yet to accomplish.

And, Barinder, don’t worry, I won’t be touching my calendar anytime soon.

Steve Dooley
Executive Director, SFU's Surrey Campus