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Andrew Petter

Andrew Petter is Past President and Vice Chancellor of Simon Fraser University and Professor in its School of Public Policy.

Prior to joining SFU in 2010, he was Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria where he served as Dean from 2001 to 2008. From 1991 to 2001, he served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia and held numerous cabinet portfolios, including Advanced Education, Intergovernmental Relations and Attorney General.

As SFU President, Professor Petter oversaw the development and implementation of a Strategic Vision that distinguished SFU as Canada’s Engaged University “defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting edge research, and far-reaching community engagement.”

In furtherance of this Vision, President Petter helped to establish SFU as a leader in areas such as experiential education; research mobilization and innovation; and community programming and development. This included expanding co-op and community-based education; supporting community research collaborations; and creating community engagement centres to serve as hubs for these activities. One of many university engagement initiatives established by President Petter is SFU Public Square, a signature program that offers year-round events and hosts an annual Community Summit to promote dialogue and deliberation on key issues of public concern.

An advocate for higher education locally and nationally, President Petter worked with partners across Canada to encourage post-secondary institutions to serve as ‘anchor institutions’ contributing to the social, economic, cultural, and environmental well-being of their communities. He oversaw significant expansion of all three SFU campuses, including a state-of-the-art Surrey building to house a new Sustainable Energy Engineering Program; a Student Union Building, Stadium and major residence expansion on Burnaby Mountain; and the Charles Chang Innovation Centre and new community-engaged research hub at 312 Main Street in Vancouver. He also championed the record-breaking “Power of Engagement” fundraising campaign during SFU’s 50th anniversary.

Throughout his presidency, he worked to further Indigenous initiatives and partnerships, convening the SFU-Aboriginal Reconciliation Council and acting upon its recommendations, including securing funding for expanding the Indigenous Student Centre and the construction of a First People’s Gathering House on the Burnaby campus.

Under his leadership, SFU was named Canada’s top comprehensive university in the Maclean’s University Rankings for nine of ten years, and in 2020 SFU was ranked first in the world for its impact on sustainable cities and communities in the globally recognized Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.    

Among other honours, Andrew Petter was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2018 in recognition of his commitment and leadership in advancing university-community engagement and higher education throughout the country.

An overview of these and other developments that occurred during President Peter’s time in office can be found in his video essay: The Making of The Engaged University.

Petter's Perspective

Statements by Andrew Petter

  • August 12, 2020

    I am writing to inform you of my decision to change the name of Simon Fraser University’s varsity athletics teams, following an extensive stakeholder engagement process.

  • June 11, 2020

    Thank you Madam Chancellor … and welcome everyone … especially graduands who join us today. As I acknowledged earlier, this celebration is not how you expected to mark this milestone in your lives.

  • June 06, 2020

    If there is a silver lining to be found in the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be that the enormous pain and dislocation caused by the worst global crisis in recent memory offers us an historic opportunity to shape a more humane and resilient future.