VPPEI Position Description & Candidate Profile

Background information on the establishment of the position is available here.

Position Description

SFU is Canada’s engaged university, defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement and impact. SFU is unconventional, fearless, compassionate, approachable and ready. SFU aspires to represent the diversity of people, ideas and cultures to the fullest of ways throughout our institution.

The Vice-President, People, Equity and Inclusion (VPPEI), reporting to the President, will provide strategic leadership across the university to advance SFU’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), is the primary people leader and strategist of the university and a key member of the executive team.

SFU is seeking to make major advances in our approaches to reconciliation, anti-oppression, including anti-Black racism, and inclusion of BIPOC members among our students, faculty and staff. The VPPEI will be the institutional lead for all of these initiatives and will work closely with a collegial executive team and a President who centres EDI among her three priorities, along with reconciliation and student experience.

Achieving our EDI goals is a shared responsibility between all leaders and members of the SFU community. The establishment of this new senior executive role is an important step in facilitating the systemic changes required to reach our EDI goals. The VPPEI will be responsible for developing and overseeing an EDI strategy for SFU to ensure that EDI values are embedded in decision-making and institutional strategies. They will engage broadly and deeply with faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders in developing the strategy. The VPPEI will work closely with the Vice-President, Academic and Provost on matters related directly to faculty and with the Associate Vice-President, Students and International on matters related directly to students. They will look for ways to work with the community to support anti-oppression initiatives. A key responsibility for this role will be to promote a teaching, learning and working environment that is safe, diverse, equitable and inclusive for all members of the SFU community.

As the leader of SFU’s People Planning and Faculty Relations functions and driven by an EDI mandate, the VPPEI will be accountable for strategic, inspired and collaborative leadership that drives change and impacts culture as it relates to the recruitment, retention and engagement of exceptional staff and faculty who can thrive and reach their full potential. The VPPEI will be responsible for continuing to build and strengthen the People Planning and Faculty Relations functions.

The VPPEI oversees a number of portfolios, including Faculty Relations, Human Resources and EDI. These portfolios will be led by Associate Vice-Presidents, Executive Directors or equivalent, each of whom will have the requisite experience, expertise and authority to effectively advise and support the VPPEI. To help ensure the important work of these teams is embedded within the operations and decisions of the entire university, the VPPEI will have access to a variety of supports such as regular strategic dialogue with the senior leadership team, a formalized mentoring relationship with the President, budget oversight commensurate with the scope of their portfolios, and access to regular developmental opportunities.

Candidate Profile

Due to the mandate of this position, significant and sustained effort will be made to encourage candidates from equity-deserving groups and with lived experience of marginalization and oppression (including Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, LGBTQIA2S+ and persons with disabilities) to apply.

The Search Committee recognizes that no candidate for VPPEI is likely to meet all the following criteria in equal measure. Nevertheless, the following qualifications, characteristics, experience, approach and personal qualities are seen to be highly desirable:

Experience and Strengths

Strategy and Vision

Exemplified by:

  • The ability to collaboratively formulate, articulate and implement a shared, culturally and racially sensitive People Planning, Faculty Relations and EDI vision and strategy for SFU.
  • Demonstrated success leading and influencing others through change, ideally in a collegial and decentralized organizational context, that requires facilitative and relational leadership skills.
  • A clear vision of the opportunities and challenges ahead for comprehensive research universities with an understanding of how universities are evolving systemically and how transformation is initiated, implemented and sustained.
  • The ability to develop and align anti-oppression and EDI policies with the academic mission of SFU, as it relates to supporting faculty, staff and students.
  • A commitment to leadership in a university that seeks to lead the sector.

Anti-Oppression and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Exemplified by:

  • The ability to describe oneself in relation to systems of social oppression and describe how one has benefitted from and perpetuated various oppressions in one’s life and especially their equity work.
  • Demonstrated substantive knowledge of and skill implementing inclusion and equity policies and programs and proven commitment to anti-oppression and EDI and supporting these principles and objectives, preferably in a university or comparably complex setting.
  • Demonstrated experience working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders including equity-seeking groups and others with lived experience of marginalization and discrimination.
  • Demonstrated experience in cross-group dialogue and an ability and awareness of intergroup dynamics in discussion spaces.
  • Experience in advocating for and addressing the social and systemic exclusion of equity-deserving groups in all institutional systems, practices and procedures.
  • Experience and skill in identifying and addressing the systems, practices and policies which result in exclusion and marginalization.
  • Understanding of scholarship and research in the areas of EDI.
  • Experience working in a post-secondary setting preferred, including an understanding of anti-oppression and EDI considerations in academic programming.

Indigenization and Reconciliation

Exemplified by:

  • Advocacy for Indigenous faculty, staff and students and active pursuit of the goals of Indigenization and reconciliation and continued delivery of the Report of the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC).
  • A track record of creating safe spaces for Indigenous faculty, staff and students that help create a sense of community and belonging.
  • A holistic view of individuals and communities and awareness of the diversity within and between Indigenous communities.
  • An awareness of the complementarity and differentiation between Indigenization and EDI work.

People Strategy Development

Exemplified by:

  • Experience establishing broad, modern, comprehensive, integrated and strategic people plans and structures to support organizational goals and influence the recruitment, retention and engagement of exceptional staff and faculty.
  • Demonstrated expertise and experience in organizational development and people practices and partnerships that result in safe, collaborative and supportive environments for working and learning.
  • Experience in a unionized environment (preferred).

Values and Community Centered Leadership

Exemplified by:

  • A consultative view of leadership with an awareness of the need for openness, change and team building. Accepts and provides mentorship and supports professional development.
  • A respectful, compassionate, inclusive and engaging leadership style.
  • Integrity, transparency, empathy, trustworthiness and courage.
  • Effectiveness as a team leader and team member, with the demonstrated ability to build and work with a collegial and collaborative approach.
  • Demonstrated success leading and inspiring others through change, ideally in a collegial and decentralized organizational context that requires facilitative and relational leadership skills.

Communication Skills 

Exemplified by:

  • The ability to listen actively, engage in meaningful dialogue and communicate effectively with a wide array of individuals and groups.
  • Effectiveness at communicating in a positive, clear and articulate fashion to the general public through the various forms of media and public events.
  • A conscious and curious approach through a reflective and meaningful commitment to controversial issues in an academic environment.
  • A well-developed sense of perspective and an open, adaptable, creative and inclusive approach to problem solving.

Relationship and Trust Building

Exemplified by:

  • High emotional intelligence, humility and genuine engagement with others.
  • Cultural sensitivity and international awareness.
  • The ability to motivate others and build trust through an open, respectful and collegial approach.
  • Exceptional relationship building skills, in particular building credible strategic partnerships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Experience working with and providing leadership in a student-centered environment.

Administrative Experience and Management Acumen

Exemplified by:

  • Demonstrated success in organizational leadership, policy and program administration and project management, especially relating to anti-oppression and EDI.
  • A firm grasp on the complexities and nuances of the Faculty Relations function in a post-secondary environment.
  • The ability to lead and oversee a broad range of functions across a complex, multi-campus organization effectively and collegially.
  • The energy and time management skills required to be successful in this demanding position.

Other Considerations

  • Canadian experience is a definite asset.

Academic Qualifications

  • Post-graduate degree in a relevant field.
  • Candidates with a previous faculty appointment will be eligible for a tenured faculty appointment.

For further information or to apply for the position, please contact the Executive Search Firm: