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This December, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) is pleased to welcome Laurie Summers to the new senior-level role of FASS Director of Faculty Operations and Planning.
Summers is no stranger to SFU, serving as the director of Academic Planning for the VP Academic’s Office from 2002-03.
Since then, she has held several senior-level staff roles within the US, and abroad. This includes positions at: Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha, Qatar; Cornell University, Ithaca NY; and a ten-year career at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she most recently was the Assistant Provost in the Office of the Chancellor.
While SFU has developed and expanded substantially since 2003, in the intervening years, Summers has also gained a wealth of experience and insights into academic administration.
“I am excited for those two growth experiences to meet, as I see many new opportunities on the horizon,” she says.
"The depth and breadth of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences greatly impresses me and I am looking forward to working with the students, faculty and staff to enable us to continue to move forward.”
The newly-created role of Senior Director, Faculty Operations and Planning is also new to SFU and FASS joins other SFU Faculties (Science, Applied Sciences and Education) in implementing this staffing role.
“Working with leaders across FASS and the University,” says Dean Jane Pulkingham, “Summers will provide leadership for FASS’ vision and direction in the areas of human resources, space (facilities development and utilization), communications and marketing, health, safety, and risk, to support the Faculty mandate. The position provides advice and guidance to a large team of Administrators, Associate Deans, Chairs and Directors of Departments and Schools, and Directors of Academic Programs and Research Centres. The Senior Director oversees the Faculty’s capital, resource, research, industrial, and administrative systems.”
As a seasoned university administrator who has worked in a number of unique positions at successful universities, Summers is no stranger to navigating new administrative roles.
“More often than not I am advocating for change or a new way of doing things or creating something entirely new which is unnerving for some individuals, so I have to work to convince people that the change or new direction can be positive and that we can build upon existing excellence.”
In particular, Summers says the work at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar was a “real test and growth opportunity” but helping establish an American Ivy League institution in an international setting was an accomplishment and learning experience.
While some see university administrative work and bureaucratic structure as difficult, Summers says “the most interesting aspect of all of my roles in academic administration has been to find ways to work with and to innovate within the academic policies, procedures and guidelines in collaboration with colleagues across the campus.”
Summers also enjoys “bringing order out of chaos, or developing something which did not exist before by creating pathways and processes to accomplish the daily business of the institution.”
Having just moved back to BC from California, Summers is excited to reacquaint herself with SFU, her Canadian roots, and the Pacific Northwest.
“Believe it or not, I am looking forward to returning to rainy Vancouver! Sometimes there can be a thing as too much sunshine and heat. Once we are able to emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic, I am looking forward to resuming swimming, going to the movie theater and reacquainting myself with Vancouver and British Columbia. While I was away, I was always told that I had a Canadian accent, now I fully expect when I return that I will be told that I have an American accent! I am also working hard on returning to using Canadian spellings and reacquainting myself with the metric system.”