Chair's report - May Board Meeting

June 13, 2023

This report contains general updates and a summary of the topics discussed at Board. Items discussed at this meeting represent matters of importance at the highest level of the institution, and these reports will help provide context and clarity around the progression of major projects and decisions.

You can read the President Johnson’s report from the meeting here, and Provost and Vice-President Academic pro tem Wade Parkhouse’s latest report from Senate here.

At the May 25 Board meeting, we discussed several matters of critical importance to the university, including updates to key university positions, our ongoing Board governance review and Indigenous Governance work. Here is a summary of recent news from the Board.

Updates to Board Membership

We are pleased to share several recent changes to Board membership:

  • Carolyn Hanna has been re-elected to a staff position on the Board for term of office from June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2026.
  • Abhishek Parmar has been re-elected to an undergraduate student position on the Board for term of office from June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024.
  • Tracy (Farrell) MacRae has been elected to a graduate student position on the Board for term of office from June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024.

Thank you also to Rachel Ling, our outgoing graduate student representative, for her contributions to the Board.

Being on the Board is a volunteer commitment that takes a significant amount of time and energy and I’m grateful that members of the SFU community contribute to the university in this way. We look forward to continued work with Carolyn and Abhishek, and to welcoming Tracy to the Board.

Congratulations to Neelam Sahota

Board member Neelam Sahota was recently recognized for a decade of leadership as CEO of DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. During her time as CEO, DIVERSEcity has seen tremendous growth and evolution as it carries out its vision to serve diverse and under-represented groups with impactful, equitable and culturally safe programs and services.

Congratulations Neelam, and thank you for all the insight and perspective you contribute to SFU’s Board of Governors.

Welcoming our University Secretary

I recently shared with the SFU community that Margarita Fullerton has been appointed University Secretary, effective May 23.

The University Secretary portfolio is responsible for the effective functioning of the university’s Board of Governors. As Board Chair, I look forward to working with Ms. Fullerton on a number of projects, including the Board’s ongoing governance review, to ensure that we are streamlining operations to best support the university.

Chancellor and President’s Re-appointments

At this meeting, the Board was pleased to approve the re-appointment of Tamara Vrooman as SFU’s Chancellor for a second term, on the recommendation of a joint committee formed in accordance with university policy B10.12. Tamara has been an incredible asset to the university during her time as Chancellor, and we are glad to have her on board for another three-year term.

In addition, at this meeting the Board formally opened the process to re-appoint SFU President Joy Johnson for a second term in her position. The first step of this process is to form a Re-appointment Review Committee in accordance with university policy B10.06, which the Board aims to complete this summer. The process of re-appointing a president involves consultation across the university community, and we look forward to sharing more details about how the community can provide feedback in the Fall.

Making a Difference for B.C.

The Board was briefed on the activities of the Civic Innovation Lab, a non-profit society co-founded by SFU and the City of Burnaby that aims to develop and advance practical solutions for the city’s most pressing urban issues such as diversity and housing, sustainable growth and environmental challenges caused by climate change. The Board engaged in discussion on the success of the partnership model with the city, how to continue to build these initiatives and research priorities that could be reviewed by the Lab for consideration.

Outcomes of Board Strategic Session

The Board of Governors is committed to supporting and advancing transparent, effective and modern governance at SFU to fully leverage the strategic capabilities of the Board in support of SFU’s vision and strategy. To this end, the Board has been undergoing a governance review to consider ways to modernize Board operations, practices and its committee structure.

A strategic planning session was held in advance of the May 25 Board meeting and the session was devoted to reviewing opportunities to improve the Board’s efficiency and effectiveness, including what a revised committee structure could look like. A focus of the conversation was on enhancing channels for engagement between the Board and university community, and I look forward to evolving our practices to meet the needs of the years ahead.

In the meantime, community members are invited to attend our next Board meeting, on June 29 at the Vancouver campus. More details and a full schedule of upcoming meetings and locations can be found on our website.

Angie Lamarsh
Chair, Board of Governors
Simon Fraser University