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The Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation and SFU350 honoured by SFU
They are leaders, changemakers and passionate advocates. They also share a deep commitment to making a positive impact on Simon Fraser University and its communities—and advancing our collective vision of a more just, equitable and sustainable society for all.
This year, we are proud to recognize the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation and SFU350 as recipients of the President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award and Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award respectively. Our honourees truly embody the university’s culture of excellence, innovation and sustainability.
These prestigious annual awards celebrate the inspiring difference that our community members are making to build a brighter future. Their invaluable contributions exemplify SFU’s core values and highlight the power of education, research and engagement to enhance the lives of the people and communities we serve. Thanks to their exceptional leadership, SFU—and the world—are in a better place.
Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation
2022 President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award Recipient
For nearly 20 years, the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation has been partnering with organizations across British Columbia and around the world to create real change.
Inspired by his mother’s legacy of kindness and compassion, business leader and humanitarian Dr. Djavad Mowafaghian established the foundation to give meaningfully and generously to improve the wellbeing of children and communities, particularly through health and education. The Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation has since become one of SFU’s key partners in achieving this vision, and has made a significant and lasting impact on research, teaching and learning across the university.
It started with tremendous commitments to improving global health by supporting SFU research in diverse areas related to children’s health—from the effects of stress on human growth and HIV prevention strategies for youth, to the root causes of chronic diseases such as asthma, allergies and obesity. Their incredible investment enabled SFU to take on more ambitious, large-scale projects that tackled key issues like child health policies, children’s mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can support young first-time mothers in need.
In 2010, the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation sought to inspire creativity, culture and community in the heart of downtown Vancouver through a remarkable gift to SFU’s School of Contemporary Arts. The Foundation went on to collaborate with SFU on various initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, including: the GLOBE 2020 Project, the world’s largest study on culture, trust, gender and leadership; Friends of Simon, an award-winning program which aims to enhance the educational experiences of immigrant and refugee children and youth through tutoring and mentorship; the creation of SFU’s Flight 752 Graduate Memorial Scholarship, which benefits students who are advancing Persian culture and the Iranian community through volunteerism or research; as well as programs to help entrepreneurial newcomers through SFU’s RADIUS’ Refugee Livelihood Lab.
Beyond SFU, the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation has made transformational gifts to BC Children’s Hospital, UBC’s School of Medicine and Lions Gate Hospital, providing critically important support to advance life-saving pediatric oncology and brain research initiatives, as well as create a medical training centre dedicated to mental health services. They also support local organizations—including Covenant House Vancouver, Coast Mental Health, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, CanAssist, North Shore ConneXions Society, Blind Beginnings, Arts Umbrella, and Bard on the Beach— to address homelessness in Vancouver, improve independence and quality of life for people with disabilities, and foster an appreciation for the arts. Globally, the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation has formed thoughtful partnerships with Academics Without Borders, the OMID Foundation and the Obakki Foundation to help strengthen education, health and wellbeing around the world.
It is without a doubt that the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation has had a profound influence on our communities near and far, and is devoted to enriching people’s lives—especially society’s most vulnerable citizens. SFU is privileged to highlight some of the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation’s extraordinary contributions, and recognize their longstanding commitment to creating a better tomorrow.
Simon Fraser University mourned the loss of Dr. Djavad Mowafaghian, who passed away in July 2022. Dr. Mowafaghian dedicated his life to improving the wellbeing of children and communities around the world. Read SFU’s tribute to Dr. Mowafaghian.
2022 Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award Recipient
As strong advocates for climate action, the student-run SFU350 is aptly named after 350ppm, a measurement which represents the safe amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Currently, our planet’s carbon monoxide levels have surpassed 400ppm.
The club first came together in 2013 and hit the ground running with a student-led divestment campaign, where they called on the university to take action in responsible investing, and to divest any financial holdings in companies that extract, refine and transport fossil fuels. They also presented an open letter to the Board of Governors asking them to declare a climate emergency, along with proposed next steps and how we can reduce SFU’s carbon footprint and impact.
In November 2021, SFU announced full divestment from fossil fuels by 2025. Five months later, the Board of Governors formally declared a global climate emergency, empowering the university to take unprecedented executive action to mitigate and adapt to emergency.
From presenting to the Board of Governors, Beedie Endowment Asset Management and Student Investment Advisory Service student-run funds, the treasury, faculty and students, to conducting research on financial justification for divestment and organizing student-focused rallies—SFU350 continues to accelerate action towards tackling climate change and restoring a safe climate, and also ensuring our communities can adapt to climate impacts.
Today, SFU350 remains a dynamic group on campus with multiple campaigns in progress, from implementing climate education to advocating against the Trans Mountain Expansion project. SFU is honoured to recognize SFU350—the first time the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award has been presented to a student-led group—for their efforts in creating meaningful impact and a more sustainable world for future generations, and to centering equity, sustainability and Indigenous sovereignty in all they do.