Dean's Notes

Welcome to the Dean’s Notes where you will find monthly updates and highlights of recent activities from Dr. Susan O’Neill, Dean and Professor, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University.

Faculty Retreat

September 30 to October 1, 2019

Education faculty members participated in a two-day Faculty Retreat at Harrison Hot Springs. The retreat began at the Longhouse and Shxwt’ a: selhawtxw: The House of Long Ago and Today, located on the traditional and occupied territories of the Sto:lo people. As a Faculty we have committed to the values of Indigeneity, equity, and culture of inquiry. To begin our work in a good way we started our retreat with a guided walking tour and sharing of stories of the lands and culture of the Sto:lo people with distinguished knowledge holder, Indigenous education leader, and SFU EdD alumni, Dr. Gwen Point. The retreat focused on strategies and planning to implement the Faculty’s 5-year Academic Plan.


September 27, 2019

Dr. O'Neill attended the annual general meeting of the Association of BC Deans of Education (ABCDE), which was held at SFU Harbour Centre. Several topics were discussed during the one-day meeting that focus on the exchange of ideas and discussion about enhancing educational opportunities for BC’s schools.

Friends of Simon

September 26, 2019

Dr. O'Neill met with Friends of Simon Program Coordinators Angela Flumerfelt and Kanwal Neel to discuss the current operations of the program and future plans. Friends of Simon recruits, prepares and assigns university students as literacy tutors in the Lower Mainland, particularly with newcomer K-12 students. For further information about Friends of Simon, visit:

President’s Dinner for Past and New VPs, AVPs and Deans

September 25, 2019

The Dean met with other senior leaders at SFU both past, present and incoming at the President’s annual dinner.

Vice Presidents' and Deans' Meeting

September 25, 2019

The Dean met with other senior leaders at SFU for this meeting and discussion of policy and initiatives impacting on the wider University community. This meeting included an update by Dr. Joy Johnston, VP Research and International on the University’s initiative on equity, diversity and inclusion. See further details and a recent report here.

Gathering of the Salmon People

September 23, 2019

Dr. O'Neill gave opening remarks at the 6th Annual Gathering of the Salmon People, which is a welcome back-to-school event for all Faculty of Education faculty, students and staff. The event featured story-telling, hand drum singing and traditional dance by honoured guests and artists in celebration of the 2019/20 academic year. The event is hosted in collaboration with the Faculty of Education Professional Programs, the Office of Indigenous Education and the Indigenous Education Reconciliation Council.

Dr. O'Neill attends the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra opening night

September 20, 2019

Dr. O'Neill attended the VSO’s 101st Season opening night with Canadian Adrianne Pieczonka singing Schubert’s orchestrated lieder including Der Erlkönig (The Elf King) paired with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 Titan — the Symphony that “changed the genre forever” (The Guardian). Maestro Tausk starts with a new work commissioned from Juno-nominated Bekah Simms, a fresh and brilliant Canadian talent.

2019 Outstanding Alumni reception

September 20, 2019

The Dean attended the annual awards that recognize SFU alumni whose achievements reflect SFU’s mandate of engaging the world. For more information about this year's winners, visit: SFU News.  

Welcome to PDP students

September 20, 2019

The Dean spoke to the new intake of teacher education students about Jean Vanier’s five principles of humanity and how they relate to understanding the role of insight in teaching. Jean Vanier was a Canadian philosopher who died at the age of 90 in May 2019. Over 50 years ago, Vanier became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities and he established communities of care for people with disabilities that are now found in over 37 countries.

Indigenous Education Reconciliation Council

September 20, 2019

Dr. O'Neill attended the first IERC meeting of the new academic year. IERC is co-Chaired by Vicki Kelly and Michelle Pidgeon and is open to all members of the Faculty of Education.

New MEd Curriculum & Instruction: Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw

September 18, 2019

The Dean met with Paul Wick, Director of Education, Employment and Training at Squamish Nation, and Sobhana Jaya Madhavan, AVP, SFU External Relations, to discuss the new MEd program that just started for leaders with the Squamish Nations representing diverse educational settings. Thanks to our faculty sponsors Dr. Amy Parent and Dr. Margaret MacDonald.

Exploring research partnerships K-12 education in Surrey

September 12, 2019

Dr. O'Neill and members of the Research Hub (Cindy Xin, Director and Ching-Chiu Lin, Research Facilitator) met Neder Dhillon, Acting Assistant Superintendent Surrey Schools, Mark Flynn, Principal, Career Education Surrey Schools, along with SFU’s Rachel Nelson, Associate Director, Partnerships and Programs with External Relations, Steve Dooley, SFU Surrey Executive Director, and Nav Chima, Director, Community Programs and Partnerships at Surrey. The meeting provided an opportunity to visit the Research Hub and discuss future research collaboration opportunities and partnerships with the Surrey School District #36.

Meeting with Darren Schemmer, Executive Director, SFU International

September 11, 2019

The Dean met with Darren Schemmer, Executive Director of SFU International as a welcome to the University and to learn more about SFU International’s partnerships and resources to mobilize the global reach of SFU’s teaching, research and community engagement. Darren spent 25 years in foreign affairs with the Canadian government before joining SFU in January 2018. A consultation document is being produced and will be released soon that details SFU’s new international engagement strategy.

Surrey SAFE Program

September 10, 2019

The Dean and the Director of Surrey Campus for Education, Dr. Dan Laitsch, attended a meeting with Brian Aasebo, Community Safety Manager for the City of Surrey and Julie Schindel, Research and Policy Analyst to discuss the Faculty of Education’s Counselling Clinic’s involvement in the new SAFE Program.  

Senate Committee meeting

September 09, 2019

The Dean and Director of Surrey Campus Liaison, Dr. Dan Laitsch, attended the University Senate Committee meeting. Attending Senate is part of the Dean of Education’s portfolio. Dr. O’Neill, along with other members of Senate, which is chaired by President Petter, meet once a month. Senate is responsible for the academic governance of the University and all important matters concerning teaching and research in the University including the development of new initiatives, the formation of priorities, and the consideration and approval of policies.

Executive Committee retreat

September 09 and 16, 2019

The Dean and the Executive Committee attended two full-day retreats to discuss and envision our practices on the Executive, strategic directions for the Faculty, and implementation strategies for the 5-year academic plan. The Executive also spent time planning the September Faculty retreat.

New graduate student orientation

September 07, 2019

Dr. O'Neill gave opening remarks to new graduate students. This annual orientation brings together students, faculty and staff involved in graduate programs to provide information and welcome new graduate students to the Faculty of Education community.

Faculty reception in honour of Dr. Kris Magnusson’s 10-year term as Dean of Education

September 05, 2019

The Faculty of Education community gathered to honour Dr. Kris Magnusson for 10 remarkable years as Dean. Kris touched the lives of many educators, students researchers, and community partners involved in the educational enterprise in BC.

Senate Committee on University Priorities

September 04, 2019

The Dean attended this monthly meeting of SCUP, which reviews, approves and recommends proposals to Senate that impact the academic planning and priorities of the University.

Dean's Council

September 04 and 18, 2019

The Dean attended the bi-monthly meeting with other Deans from across the University. Deans’ Council is chaired by the Vice-President, Academic and Provost.