Meet Dr. Laurel Weldon, the new Dean of SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

January 10, 2023
Dr. Laurel Weldon, SFU Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) is beginning 2023 with a new leader at the helm. Dr. Laurel Weldon began her role as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) on January 3rd, for a five-year term. 

Weldon has a long association with the university—she started her academic journey with the Department of Political Science as an undergraduate student and later returned in 2018 as a Distinguished SFU Professor. Prior to joining SFU as a faculty member, Weldon taught at Purdue University in Indiana for 18 years where she also served as Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Chair of the Steering Committee for Faculty Senate. 

In her work as a scholar and political scientist, Weldon’s research focuses on the role of social movements, comparative public policy, intersectionality, violence against women, and diversity and inclusion. A recipient of the Best Book Award from the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association, Weldon has authored several books based on her research. Her expertise in these topics has informed her role as a consultant for international organizations such as the UN and the World Bank in addition to national, local, and Indigenous governments.

As a professor, Weldon loves learning from and alongside her students, “I always find that my efforts to convey the complicated arguments and literatures in which I work means I have to deepen and broaden my own understanding.” She likes to engage her students in the things that interest them, and she often finds herself learning new material so that she can better help her students. Weldon enjoys getting to know her students personally and continues keep in touch with them long after graduation, which has resulted in valued connections with former students who have gone on to become social workers, lawyers, activists and professors. 

Weldon’s extensive professional achievements and administrative experience provides a broad base for her new role as FASS Dean and will guide her through the task of leading the Faculty to new heights. “I think it is incumbent on all of us to step up and put ourselves forward as candidates in these situations, to take on the responsibility,” says Weldon. 

As Weldon starts off her five-year term, she hopes to develop her agenda with input from the FASS community itself by spending time learning about how faculty, staff, and students see their main concerns and priorities. Weldon is keen to find ways to empower everyone including alumni, by expanding access to SFU and bringing in new voices and perspectives to the FASS community. “I have heard how important decolonization and diversity in all its forms are to our students, faculty, and staff. I also want to find out how we at FASS can be of service to the community—the province, country and international community—that supports us!”

Weldon adds, “I am hoping many of my colleagues will similarly join me in working together to keep SFU excellent in all the ways that it is already a fantastic place and help me find new ways to make it better, more just, and more inclusive.”