Community Issues

Seniors Program helping West End retiree invest in the community

Scott Ricker in Vancouver's West End. Photo by Greg Ehlers.
September 01, 2012

By Amy Robertson

SFU’s Seniors Program is allowing a West End man to pursue a passion he discovered only after a long career in public health: giving back to the community.

Scott Ricker got his first taste of community work a few years after he’d retired and moved to Surrey, BC. He joined the Surrey Planning Commission, the Cloverdale Community Association, and other community groups, which showed him how much he enjoyed making a meaningful difference.

“You have to give back,” he says. “The community is only as good as you make it. If you sit back and let things happen, you’re a part of the problem.”

Ricker and his wife later purchased a ranch in Lytton, BC, where he joined the town council. After returning to Vancouver, Ricker continued his community involvement—and the more active he became, the more he thought he should learn. His son, an SFU graduate, recommended the Seniors Program, and as soon as Ricker took his first course, a six-week lecture series on economics with Ted Cohn, he was hooked.

“I just love his courses—he’s a walking encyclopedia.”

Ricker gets involved with SFU

One course turned into several, Ricker says, and he was soon asked to join the SFU Seniors Program advisory council, which helps advise and set the vision for the Seniors Program. Recently, Ricker was part of the program decision to begin offering seminars, which involve smaller class sizes and more reading and discussion than regular courses.

Ricker has already taken one of these seminars—on Thomas More’s Utopia—and he says it was very eye-opening.

Later, Ricker was asked to serve on the executive board of the SFU Seniors Lifelong Learners Society, which helps foster communication between its members and the university.

In the fall of 2012, Ricker plans to take two Seniors Program courses, audit an undergraduate course, attend Philosopher’s Cafés, and finish SFU Continuing Studies’ online Certificate in Restorative Justice.

His work in municipal politics drew him to the restorative justice program. As a community leader, he’d like to participate in more conflict resolution.

“I believe the community should take responsibility for what goes on,” he says.

Starting a new community post

One of the most important things he’s learned in his studies at SFU is how to be a good listener.

“I think that’s the key to any successful negotiation,” Ricker says. “You can’t get to ‘yes’ if you don’t know what the problem is.”

Ricker is preparing to put his listening and leadership skills to work yet again: in September 2012, he’ll start a new post as president of the SFU Seniors Lifelong Learners Society. As a true lifelong learner himself, it’s a natural fit.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he says.