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SFU: What’s Next? – Message from the President to Faculty and Staff

September 29, 2022

I hope you’ve all had a great start to the term.

Since we launched SFU: What’s Next? in March, I’ve spent many hours reading feedback from and listening to faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners on the future of SFU.

Thank you for your participation in this process to date. Over the summer, a team of research assistants and our external research partners got to work synthesizing and summarizing feedback from phase one of the community conversations. To view the results and learn more about our research methodology, you can visit the SFU: What’s Next? website.

From my perspective, this work paints a clear picture. We received remarkably consistent feedback from across the university about the changes that need to happen moving forward.

Some of my major takeaways include:

  • A need to clearly state the university’s commitment to education and research
  • Support for the success of and equity for students, faculty and staff 
  • Focus on addressing pressing operational challenges
  • Clarification of what is meant by engagement, and the importance of engagement to our academic purpose
  • A deeply felt community commitment to reconciliation, decolonization and Indigenization
  • Continuing to use our strengths to advance social justice, inclusion and climate action

These are big ideas, and they will take time to operationalize. But I am confident that this community-driven process, and the subsequent strategic framework, will give us a mechanism to focus our attention on the areas that matter. Let me be clear: we hear you, and it’s on me, Wade and the senior leadership team (VPs and Deans) to deliver results and bring these changes to life.

I am happy to share that we are already beginning to work on some of these pieces—for example, we are the first public university in the country to seek certification as a Living Wage Employer—an idea that came forward during phase one of SFU: What’s Next? with strong community support. And SFU’s Provost and Vice-President Academic pro tem, Wade Parkhouse, has joined me as a sponsor in this work to offer leadership as we recenter the academic mission of the university.

As we continue community conversation activities through the fall term, I look forward to sharing back more of what we’re hearing as we endeavor to develop a strategic plan that is representative of our vibrant SFU community.

Wade and I would love to hear what you think about the phase one results and takeaways—you can share your thoughts by writing to next@sfu.ca. I hope you will also join Wade and me at the upcoming SFU: What’s Next? town halls to share feedback, taking place for faculty on Nov. 7 and staff on Nov. 8. Please mark your calendars!

I look forward to hearing from you and continuing the conversation about What’s Next for SFU. Thank you for your participation so far, and best wishes for a successful term.

Sincerely,

Joy Johnson
Pronouns: she, her, hers
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University