SFU: What's Next?

March 22, 2022

Dear students, faculty and staff,

As president of SFU, one of my jobs is to tell the story of this university—to explain to the world who we are, where we’ve been, and perhaps most importantly, where we’re going.

In 1965, SFU opened its Burnaby campus to 2,500 students. More than 50 years later, that “radical campus” has established itself as one of the leading universities in Canada. We’ve built a community from the ground up on Burnaby Mountain and established vibrant learning spaces in Surrey and Vancouver. We’ve delivered world-class teaching and learning experiences and hosted world-class research and scholarship, and we’ve done it all with community and social impact always front of mind.  

Most recently, the pandemic has forced us to find new ways of collaborating and to reckon with the systemic inequities baked into our institution’s founding. We are currently in a moment of upheaval and change, one filled with uncertainty but also tremendous potential. We are a university on the verge of bigger things.

So the question I have for you all is: SFU, what’s next?

How do we take the lessons we’re learning from COVID-19 and use them to shape our processes, protocols and activities moving forward?  

How do we define who we are as a community? 

What ideas and priorities are most meaningful to us, and what do we commit to as an institution?

Where are we going next, and how do we want to get there? 

These aren’t questions that I can—or should—answer on my own. They are questions for all of us, and I want to hear from you.

Over the next few months, we’re holding a community conversation to ask some of these big questions and give you the opportunity to answer them—and to shape what’s next for SFU. 

This week, we’re starting two discussions on ThoughtExchange to reflect on some our proudest SFU moments and share the differences we think SFU should make in the world. Join me for this discussion and check back regularly to see how the conversation is evolving.

Moving forward, there will be lots of ways to participate, from live discussions to surveys and online submissions, and I encourage you to share your thoughts using one or all of these forums. Please visit to learn more about all the ways you can engage. If you have questions about this project, you can contact the What's Next team at

I can’t wait to hear from you, and to write this next chapter of SFU’s story together.


Joy Johnson