Convocation founders

The Universities Act of 1963 established Simon Fraser University, but SFU did not open until 1965 and it was a few more years before there were any graduates. So, in the early days there was no convocation of graduates as called for in the Universities Act.

To remedy that situation, the Chancellor and President invited a number of prominent community members to become Convocation Founders of SFU and have input on matters pertaining to the new university. They would also symbolically serve as the Senate during the official opening ceremonies.

It was a great honour to be asked to be a Convocation Founder. The role of Convocation Founders was opened with invitations being sent to a number of leaders in the business and cultural life of the province who were concerned about higher education, inviting them to serve as Convocation Founders. 

The initial group included 276 people, of whom 205 were prominent members of the business community. Companies such as British Columbia Forest Products, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Dominion Securities Corporation Ltd., and organizations such as the Vancouver Stock Exchange, were all represented. Of the remaining 71 members, 23 individuals (Including W.A.C. Bennett, and the Social Credit Cabinet Ministers Leslie Peterson and R.W. Bonner) were associated with the provincial and municipal governments, while only two (E.P. O’Neal and James Cairnie) were associated with organized labour. 

The first meeting of Convocation Founders was held at a luncheon in the Bayshore Inn on the 16th of June, 1964 at which time the Premier announced the launching of the Three Universities Capital Fund. 

According to President Patrick McTaggart-Cowan, speaking at this first meeting, the university administration would “keep the Convocation Founders informed of the progress and problems,” while the latter would “bring to the University their experience, their plans, their hopes and even their dreams.”