For the love of SFU – a collective work in progress

February 14, 2019

Thanks to all those who sent me kind comments following the announcement that I would not be seeking a third term as SFU president.  Although I have much left to accomplish before my current term ends in August 2020, the announcement prompted some to ask what I have enjoyed most about my job.

The answer is easy. I love the intellectual strengths and educational talents of our faculty, the extraordinary dedication and amazing skills of our staff, and the exceptional relationships we enjoy with our alumni and community partners.  

I also love the curiosity, vitality and creativity of our wonderful students. These qualities were in full display recently when I found myself back in the classroom engaging students in the School of Public Policy on the role of the Charter of Rights in shaping public discourse and decision-making. The experience reminded me not only how much I enjoy teaching, but also how passionate our students are to seek knowledge, explore ideas and develop their capacities to make a difference in a changing and challenging world.       

Another thing that gratifies me about SFU is the commitment I see so often, and in so many, to work collaboratively for the good of the university community. This doesn’t mean that people always feel obliged to agree or to withhold criticism when they think things are going wrong.  Not at SFU. Indeed, I believe that our shared sense of commitment allows us to be more open and vocal in expressing our differences and dissatisfactions, knowing that they are driven by a common desire to make the institution better for all.

This was evident recently at one of the ‘Breakfast with the President’ roundtables that I regularly host for students, faculty and staff.  As the conversation turned to issues concerning the need to promote equity, diversity and inclusion within the university community, the willingness of those present to offer help and suggest solutions reaffirmed to me that SFU is truly a place that people care deeply about, while also caring for, each other.

As my role as president enters its final 18 months, I will continue to devote my efforts to making SFU the best institution it can be, confident in the knowledge that I am not alone in this endeavour. Whether you are a student, faculty or staff member, alumnus or supporter, I hope the realization that you are part of a greater collective effort, working for and with each other, gives you as much pride and energy as it does me.