Top SFU News stories of 2017

December 20, 2017

Several major accomplishments, including the launch of KEY, SFU’s Big Data initiative, highlighted another exciting year at Simon Fraser University.

For the ninth time in the past decade, SFU was named Canada's top comprehensive school in Maclean's annual rankings of Canadian universities. The university was also designated as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, the first such designation in B.C.

Here are the highlights from SFU News for 2017:

1. SFU takes top spot in Maclean’s rankings for the ninth time in past decade

Within the category, SFU ranked first in student services and library expenses and acquisitions. The university also ranked second for faculty awards, medical science grants, and citations; third for grants in social sciences and the humanities; and fourth in overall research dollars.

2. SFU is designated as the first Ashoka U Changemaker Campus in British Columbia

Simon Fraser University’s commitment to social innovation leadership has been recognized with its designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. SFU is one of just over 40 global institutions to pass this rigorous process, and is the first university in British Columbia to be designated.

3. KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative launches

KEY launched in February and marked the opening of SFU’s Big Data HUB. It will enable the university to expand academic and research capacities by harnessing big data for new knowledge while supporting economic and social development, and increasing skills and expertise in the workforce.

4. Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer launches at SFU

Simon Fraser University announced the launch of a new, advanced research computing system, Cedar, at the Burnaby campus. One of four new Canadian supercomputing and data centre sites, Cedar will give Canadian researchers access to the latest resources and expertise.

5. SFU hosts C2UExpo 2017

SFU played host to the C2UExpo 2017 over five days in May at the Vancouver and Surrey campuses. The biennial, Canadian-led international conference showcased best practices in community-campus partnerships worldwide.

6. University approves new sexual violence policy

At the end of March, SFU’s Board of Governors approved the university’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education and Support Policy. CJ Rowe, formerly executive director of Qmunity, was named director of the new Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office.

7. Governor General visits SFU VentureLabs®

In June, Governor General David Johnston visited SFU’s Venture Labs and was introduced to cricket protein bars and air-harvested water. Johnston also participated in a roundtable discussion with 25 entrepreneurs and social innovators.

8. Aboriginal Reconcilliation Council relases final report

The final report from SFU-Aboriginal Reconciliation Council, entitled Walk This Path With Us, was unveiled in October and builds toward a renewed and respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the SFU community.

9. David Chariandy's novel Brother wins 2017 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

SFU English professor David Chariandy won the $50,000 fiction prize for his second novel, Brother. The story about sons of Trinidadian immigrants in Scarborough, east of Toronto, also made the Giller long-list.

10. SFU surpassed 150,000 graduates in 2017.

The university celebrated a significant milestone this year: reaching and surpassing 150,000 graduates. Alumni live in 141 countries and have earned more than 195,000 credentials from SFU.

11. April Fool’s Day video: WiFi ban captures students' attention

A recent study found that 90 per cent of students are distracted in the classroom by electronic devices. To help SFU students in their educational pursuits, the university implemented a three-month pilot to cut WiFi in classrooms at all campuses ... beginning April 1.

12. SFU unveils plans for NCAA stadium at Burnaby campus

A $10-million contribution from SFU students is helping to build covered stadium seating into the hillside at Terry Fox Field. The first phase of the project has just begun and aims to be complete by April 2020 and will feature seating for approximately 1,800.

13. Coast Capital Savings invests $1 million to further innovation

A $1-million gift from Coast Capital Savings will help advance innovation across the university through SFU’s Venture Connection program. The program has been re-named the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program.

14. Faculty trio named to Royal Society of Canada Fellowship, College

Professors Nick Blomley and John Harriss are among the class of 2017 Royal Society of Canada (RSC) Fellows. Education professor Nathalie Sinclair also joins the prestigious college.

15. SFU team wins top prize at Oxford Global Challenge with solutions to reduce medical waste

In May, an interdisciplinary team of SFU undergraduates won first place overall in The Oxford Global Challenge, an international competition for students to explore and present ideas around social and environmental change.