Message from the President: Update on Research Ethics Board

March 07, 2023

As Chair of Senate, I am pleased to update the community on a productive discussion and collaborative resolution on recent changes to SFU’s Research Ethics Board (REB). 

Senate endorsed the appointment of a Special Joint Committee (SJC) comprised of one member of the REB and two members from each of Board and Senate. The SJC will review and recommend changes to the appropriate policy and procedures on research ethics. Senate also voted to ratify the renewal of the REB chair and members and add one additional member. Current policy and procedures pertaining to the Research Ethics Board will be followed as the SJC does its work, with the addition of a stated priority to ensure we adopt the standard national operating procedures for research ethics boards.

Research ethics is a topic of critical importance at the university, and I am grateful to all Senators for contributing to the discussion in a positive and thoughtful way. You showed a true willingness to listen, collaborate and find the right path forward. 

My thanks to the Office of Research Ethics for their ongoing and critical role in supporting the effective administration of research ethics at SFU and for working with the Research Ethics Board in the adoption of the new research ethics procedures. Thank you also to Senator Spector for taking direction from the Senate Committee of Agenda and Rules in order to create the first drafts of resolutions and for his flexibility in working through multiple amendments, and to Dr. Wendy Thornton, chair of the REB, for sharing her thoughts with Senate.

Yesterday’s meeting was truly an example of collegial governance in action, and I left the room feeling proud of Senate and the way we work together at SFU. We began the conversation around updating REB policies and procedures in order to proactively ensure continued research excellence and compliance with national standards, and I am confident these decisions will allow us to protect research ethics while moving forward with necessary changes.

Joy Johnson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Simon Fraser University