Message from the President: 2023-24 Community Report

June 18, 2024

As we come to the end of a busy, productive and challenging year at SFU, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year behind us in my second annual Community Report.

You have heard a lot from me and the executive team about challenges and hard decisions we have navigated together, but there has also been a lot to celebrate. This was our first year of using What’s Next: The SFU Strategy to inform decisions and operations at the university, and I am proud of the progress we have made.

The strategy established a shared vision, purpose and values for the university, as well as four priorities that represent our collective focus. The purpose of creating a strategy was to give us all a framework to lean on in times of change and flux—exactly like the year we just lived through. Over the past year, What’s Next has informed decision-making processes at the highest level, giving the executive team direction and keeping us grounded in the things that matter most to us as a community.

Faculty and staff across the university have contributed to each of our four priorities in unique and creative ways, despite a challenging operating environment. Some highlights are below, and you can read a full summary of what we accomplished in What’s Next: Year One in Review.

Uphold Truth and Reconciliation

  • Continued construction of the First Peoples’ Gathering House on the Burnaby campus, which will provide space for Indigenous students, staff, faculty and community members to gather, learn and share cultural traditions
  • Appointed Chris (Syeta’xtn) Lewis as the inaugural Indigenous Executive Lead and began establishment of the Office of the Indigenous Council to strengthen leadership capacity and support activities across the university

Engage in Global Challenges

  • Established an SFU-wide minimum income for research PhD students, increasing equity across graduate programs and strengthening SFU’s reputation as a university that enables researchers to focus on their studies
  • Appointed an inaugural executive director of community-centred climate innovation, better enabling SFU to establish partnerships to co-design climate action and sustainability pathways

Make a Difference for B.C.

  • Advanced the proposed School of Medicine at SFU, securing provincial funding, progressing efforts to hire a founding dean, confirming space requirements and creating a curriculum advisory team
  • Worked with the Ministry to be awarded 500 new tech-relevant seats in programs from agritech to data science and computing science

Transform the SFU Experience

  • Released two institution-wide strategies, the People Plan and Equity Compass, to align our people strategies, equity office and faculty experience at SFU over the next five years
  • Opened the new Courtyard Residence, featuring 369 single-occupancy rooms for first-year students and amenities to support student life, including gathering spaces, a lounge and kitchen and 24/7 front desk support
  • Created a pan-university Accessibility Committee to assist in identifying and addressing barriers to accessibility at SFU and inform a new Accessibility Plan
  • Achieved Living Wage status with SFU’s major employee groups, including extending non-wage benefits and a tuition waiver to contracted workers, and contracting with companies who meet SFU’s Living Wage critera

Thank you

I am grateful to faculty and staff for contributing to these achievements—and many, many more across the university—as we realize our vision to be a leading research university, advancing an inclusive and sustainable future.

Now that summer is upon us, I hope that you have booked time away from work to rest and recharge for the year ahead. I look forward to seeing you around campus this summer and to connecting with you at our fall town hall.

We have always said that the hard decisions we made this year are setting us up for a bright future, and this continues to be true. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for us.

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