Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Inaugural "Gathering of the Clan" Breakfast

Speech

Vancouver Convention Centre

June 29, 2010

Dr. Michael Stevenson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join in this extraordinary “gathering of the Clan.”

I am particularly delighted to welcome Jay Triano back to SFU on this occasion.  He has been such a distinguished flagbearer for the excellence to which we aspire in SFU Athletics:  exceptional performance as a student athlete; national status at the peak of an athletic career, and a continuing record of professional and community leadership thereafter.

As Clan Alumni, most of you here this morning have built a unique legacy at SFU: producing student athletes who satisfy the demanding academic standards of Canada’s top-ranked comprehensive university, as well as the still more demanding standards of athletes who are national champions.  This legacy has been established since SFU’s founding in 1965 by the 72 national team championships; the innumerable individual championships  and national team or academic all star selections; the 91 members of Canadian Olympic teams and the largest number (189) of CFL draft picks from a Canadian university.  The legacy continues as this past year 53 SFU athletes received national team membership in their sports and we won no less than four national championships (in men’s and women’s wrestling, softball, and women’s basketball).

As President of SFU over the past ten years I have been conscious of the obligation to cherish and sustain this legacy.  I have sought, first, to improve facilities with expanded and renovated track and field facilities; improved competition fields with state-of-the-art surfaces, drainage and lighting, and building a first class competition basketball facility and one of the best fitness centers in the world.  We have also worked hard on public-private partnership proposals for a new indoor, multi-sport facility and a covered stadium on Terry Fox Field.  

Second, I have supported organizational change within SFU Athletics, bringing David Murphy, perhaps the most distinguished university director of athletics in Canada to SFU in that capacity; pushing for greater strength in coaching and support staff; and improving advancement activity in support of athletics.

Third, I have supported a reassessment of our strategic priorities in athletics, and the path from exclusive membership in the NAIA, to split membership in the NAIA and the CIS, to our recent acceptance as the first university outside of the USA to be admitted to membership in the NCAA.

We entered the NAIA in the 1960s with Dr. Shrum’s commitment that SFU would compete one day in the Rose Bowl.  We did so in 1976 with John Buchanan’s great soccer team, not exactly what Dr. Shrum, let alone Lorne Davies had in mind.  But commitment to the highest standards of varsity athletics has been a constant from our founding to the move to NCAA as soon as it was allowed by the largest, most competitive and best financed collegiate athletic organization in the world.

We relish now more than ever before the opportunity to carry the Canadian flag internationally; to recruit the best in Canada to compete with the best internationally.  We intend not simply to be the first university outside of the USA to enter the NCAA, but to be competitive in the NCAA and to become champions in the NCAA.

This strategy reflects SFU’s overriding emphasis on “thinking of the world;” our commitment to “embracing risk and bold initiative,” and our record of excellence through innovation.

Certain as I am of the rightness of the path on which we are now embarking, I am well aware of the magnitude of the challenges we face.

We will need your help: in communicating our goals and values; in projecting our profile nationally and internationally; in recruiting the best student athletes in Canada who must be provided an option other than having to enter an American university in order to get the competition they deserve; in assuring them the competitive facilities and support required at SFU.

Having been a student myself at a great U.S. university that is a member of one of the most illustrious conferences of the NCAA, I know the unique fusion of energy that must unite the academic administration, the athletic department, the broader student body and alumni in support of a culture of academic and athletic excellence; in building a tradition of school spirit and institutional pride, and in establishing a school of champions.

I have no doubt that is what we will create at SFU as members of the NCAA.  I look forward to working with you in any way I can in the future to make it so.  Thank you for your continuing commitment to the SFU Athletics expressed today, and for your generosity in supporting a new endowment for student financial assistance to future members of the Clan.

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