Provost & VPA Position Description & Candidate Profile

The Provost and Vice-President, Academic (Provost), reporting to the President, is the chief operating and chief academic officer of the university and provides strategic leadership on academic, financial, and operational matters at the university. Working closely with the President, Deans, Vice-Presidents and Vice-Provosts, the Provost ensures operational planning and budgeting is fully integrated across the University, aligns with the University’s academic and strategic mission, its institutional priorities and is supported by the appropriate allocation of resources. The Provost is responsible for providing leadership and oversight of academic affairs while supporting the efforts of Deans, Chairs, Directors, faculty, and staff to drive academic excellence across the University to ensure the core activities of research, scholarly activity, teaching and learning are of the highest standards. The Provost is the senior Vice-President and serves as Acting President in the absence of the President.

The following positions report to the Provost:

  • Vice-Provost, Academic Affairs (currently Senior Advisor, Academic Affairs)
  • Vice-Provost, Academic and Resource Planning (currently Senior Advisor, Academic Planning)
  • Vice-Provost, Academic Indigenous Initiatives (position under development)
  • Vice-Provost, Learning and Teaching
  • Vice-Provost, Students and International
  • Vice-Provost and Dean, Graduate Studies (currently Dean & Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Studies)
  • Deans of the Faculties of Applied Sciences; Arts and Social Sciences; Beedie School of Business; Communication, Art and Technology; Education; Environment; Health Sciences; Science
  • Dean of Libraries
  • Dean of Lifelong Learning
  • Executive Director, Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic
  • Executive Director, Faculty Relations (dual report with VP People, Equity and Inclusion)
  • Deputy Provost (position not yet established)

The Provost chairs the following standing committees:

  • Integrated Planning Committee (co-chaired with Vice-President Finance and Administration)
  • Budget Planning Committee (co-chaired with Vice-President Finance and Administration)
  • SCUP (Senate Committee on University Priorities)
  • SCEMP (Senate Committee on Enrolment Management and Planning)
  • Deans' Search Committees
  • Faculty Review Committee (Tenure and Promotion Appeals)
  • University Salary Appeals Committee
  • Deans’ Council

The Provost is a member of the following committees:

  • Executive Team
  • Senior Leadership Team
  • Senate
  • SCAR (Senate Committee on Agenda and Rules)
  • University-Wide Aboriginal Steering Committee


The Candidate Qualifications: The Search Committee recognizes that no candidate for Provost and Vice-President, Academic is likely to meet all the following criteria in equal measure; nevertheless, the following academic characteristics, administrative experience, competencies and approach are seen to be highly desirable:

Strategy and Vision

  • Clear vision of the opportunities and challenges ahead for universities, with an understanding of the complexities of evolving learning environments and how transformation is initiated, implemented, and sustained.
  • Ability to collaboratively formulate, articulate and implement a shared academic vision and strategy for the University.
  • A commitment to leadership in a university that seeks to lead the sector, while supporting clear focus and execution of strategic and academic priorities.

Academic Advocate

  • Energetic in promoting the positive relationship between research and teaching, academic freedom, and a strong commitment to teaching, research and scholarship.
  • Strong commitment to teaching and research excellence and the University’s research and teaching mission in close co-operation with the Vice-President, Research and International.
  • An advocate for faculty and staff in delivering on the academic mission of the University.
  • A committed advocate, internally and externally, for the role of the university in society and engagement with its community.

Commitment to SFU

  • Demonstrates a sincere interest to serve in a leadership role at SFU and commitment to the mission, vision, and values as an institution.
  • Support and foster the distinct culture of community engagement at SFU.

Administrative Experience and Management Acumen

  • Outstanding record of academic leadership, planning and budget management as a Provost, Vice-President, Dean, Associate Vice-President, or similar senior role at a university.
  • Able to effectively and collegially lead and oversee a broad range of academic, financial, human resource, planning, infrastructure, enrolment and other functions across a complex, multi-campus organization.
  • The energy and time management skills required to be successful in this demanding position.
  • Experience and/or understanding of the Canadian post-secondary context is a definite asset.

Leadership Values

  • Highly effective team leader and team member, with the demonstrated ability to build and work with a collegial and collaborative approach.  Leads with integrity, transparency, and empathy.
  • Demonstrated success leading and inspiring others through change that requires facilitative and relational leadership skills.
  • Ability to delegate appropriately and empower others.
  • Ability to support and foster a positive organizational culture that promotes faculty, staff and student wellbeing.

Decolonization, Reconciliation, Indigenization, and Cultural Safety

  • Through demonstrated past achievement and commitment, will be an advocate for Indigenous faculty, staff and students, and will actively pursue the goals of decolonization, reconciliation, Indigenization, and cultural safety.
  • A track record of creating culturally 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.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

  • A deep understanding of and proven commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and a demonstrated experience in supporting and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion principles and objectives within a complex organization and across the continuum of anti-racism and anti-oppression.
  • Experience (including lived) in addressing the social and systemic exclusion of equity-deserving groups in all institutional systems, practices, and procedures.

Student Champion

  • Cares about students and understands the factors that affect students’ experience, learning, mental health, accessibility, financial stability, and achievement.
  • Demonstrated experience promoting and rewarding excellence in teaching and learning environment.
  • Interacts with students and student societies and has experience developing innovative strategies to engage students with a positive commitment to improving the student experience at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level.

Communications Approach

  • Ability and willingness to listen actively, engage in meaningful dialogue, and communicate in a positive fashion effectively with a wide array of individuals and groups and in various settings, including public events.
  • A conscious and curious approach through a reflective and meaningful commitment to addressing controversial issues in an academic environment.

Relationship and Trust Building

  • Experience working productively with multiple levels of government, post-secondary institutions other organizations and groups, including building strategic partnerships with stakeholders.
  • Culturally sensitive and internationally aware.
  • Ability to build trust through an open, respectful and collegial approach.

Academic Qualifications

  • An exemplary record as an educator and researcher. Appointable as a full professor at SFU.