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Background on Establishment of VPPEI

OVERVIEW

Last year, SFU President Joy Johnson committed to adding a new position to SFU’s executive leadership team that is responsible for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the university. This new position has been approved by the Board of Governors and the search process for SFU’s first Vice-President People, Equity and Inclusion (VPPEI) is now underway.

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 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.

The VPPEI will oversee a number of portfolios, including Faculty Relations, Human Resources and an EDI support unit. This position will report to the President, will be a key member of the Executive Team and will provide strategic leadership, support and resourcing for the achievement of SFU’s commitment to EDI in all aspects of the university’s mandate.

EDI MANDATE

In recent years, several reports and recommendations, including the recent Diversity Meter survey and feedback from our community, have called for a senior leadership role to guide an institutional approach to EDI.

The establishment of this senior executive role will hold SFU and the leadership team accountable for the systemic changes required to reach our EDI goals.

Now, more than ever, we need an executive leader with the authority and resourcing to drive change and impact culture as it relates to EDI and anti-oppression.  

EMPLOYEE RELATIONS MANDATE

As so many of the structural changes required to become more equitable and inclusive are driven by functions in Faculty Relations and Human Resources, this position created an opportunity to bring these into a single portfolio.

Establishing an executive position that includes these functions and is guided by an EDI mandate will help shape a unified strategy to allow for a comprehensive approach to labour relations, hiring and recruitment, training and development, leadership identification, and professional development, which will be re-examined through an EDI lens.

As there are unique elements of Faculty Relations, and as faculty should continue to have a strong working relationship with the Vice-President, Academic and Provost (VPA), we will ensure Faculty Relations continues to work closely with the VPA.

CONNECTION TO STUDENTS

The VPPEI will also work closely with the Student Services to ensure the integration of EDI and anti-oppression initiatives for students.

We recognize that students have unique needs and concerns that must be addressed through student-specific policies and programs. While the overall leadership and accountability for establishing those supports will remain with Student Services, the VPPEI will be closely connected with Student Services with a view to the student experience to ensure that student-facing supports and services are equitable and inclusive.

NEXT STEPS

A search committee of university representatives has been established as per policy GP29. A candidate profile for the VPPEI has been developed based on input from the SFU community that will be used for recruitment.  

The intention is to welcome the VPPEI in the fall of 2021, at which time the portfolio will be established. Until that time there will be no changes to portfolios. The new VPPEI will determine what structures they need to support their work, and how to organize their portfolio, which will include determining what other senior roles are required.