Julia Denholm is the new dean of Lifelong Learning.

Faculty and Staff

Julia Denholm becomes SFU’s new dean of Lifelong Learning

August 29, 2018

It’s fitting that Julia Denholm, a lifelong learner and educator herself, is Simon Fraser University’s new dean of Lifelong Learning.

From her early career days teaching at UBC and Langara, to being a regular contributor to the Vancouver Sun’s book club, to becoming a motorcycle enthusiast—Denholm knows that learning continues long after post-secondary studies.

She joined SFU from Capilano University, where she was dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and of kálax-ay, the university’s Sunshine Coast campus. At kálax-ay, her responsibilities included career and community programming.

Her passion for community engagement and accessible education was one of her key reasons for joining SFU.

“The history of lifelong learning is rooted in community and I’m excited to join SFU and build on the university’s commitment to engaging communities and to promoting indigenization,” says Denholm. “Community programming puts the university right at people’s front door.”

Denholm holds a PhD in educational studies and a master of arts in English literature from the University of British Columbia, and has extensive experience in teaching and higher education leadership. She began her academic career teaching with the Department of English at UBC, where she also taught in the faculties of commerce and of applied science, and for the distance education and technology unit. Subsequently, she joined Langara College as instructor, chair of the English department, and humanities division chair.

What’s next for lifelong learners

Looking ahead, Denholm says there is a growing need for skills that can support independent workers in the gig economy. Technology shifts in the workplace, for example, emphasize an increased demand for professional writing, communication, project management and leadership skills.

“The future for lifelong learning is immediate in that more and more people need mid-career education to help them respond to the changing marketplace, and evolving technology,” she says.

Denholm says there are opportunities for learners of all types to study liberal arts and other areas of interest from world-class instructors. For older learners, she says, one of the joys of a healthy retirement is the ability to luxuriate in education.

SFU Lifelong Learning offers more than 300 continuing education courses and 32 programs for the professional development and personal enrichment of learners of all ages.