Simon Fraser University


Yosef Wosk

Yosef Wosk, who is retiring after 15 years as director of interdisciplinary programs in Continuing Studies, developed such seminal programs as The Philosophers’ Café and The Academy for Independent Scholars.

A fond farewell to Yosef Wosk

May 13, 2010

An open letter from Diane Mar-Nicolle, Continuing Studies Interdisciplinary Programs program assistant:

As a staff member at SFU, I work with some remarkable men and women.

But I’ve never worked with anyone with more intellectual curiosity, scholarly interests, drive to serve their community, integrity and humility than Yosef Wosk, who retires this month after 15 years as Continuing Studies interdisciplinary programs director.

A celebrated scholar with doctorates in religion and literature, and psychology, Yosef has worked tirelessly for SFU and for museums, schools, libraries and hundreds of other organizations worldwide.

His generosity is legendary and his ability to see a need and fill it, with his distinctive level of personal care and attention, is inspirational.

Yosef forged enduring bonds connecting SFU to the community through his pioneering Philosophers’ Café program (now imitated throughout North America) the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars, the Civitas political discussion group and the numerous courses he taught.

Yet it is typical of the man that he considers "friendships with the people here at SFU and in the community" as his greatest accomplishment.

As SFU Business professor Mark Wexler notes, "Yosef has done SFU proud. I will sorely miss his presence and contribution to the intellectual life of the campus."

One of Yosef’s final acts at SFU was to create a $1,000 annual Margaret Brown Continuing Studies staff achievement award named after his long-time assistant. It was the latest in a long list of Wosk family gifts to SFU that began with his late father, Morris, who donated the building that now houses the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

The Wosks have made numerous other donations to SFU, including the Yosef Wosk Student Learning Commons in the Surrey and Vancouver campuses and the Morris and Dena Wosk Classroom at Harbour Centre, to name but three.

It is deserving that Yosef can now take time to travel, edit his writings, renovate his beloved heritage home and work on a few projects that tug at his heartstrings.

Yosef, your legacy is profound and you will forever have a community in your friends and colleagues at SFU.