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Long-time employees sign-off from School of Communication

February 01, 2019
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By Karin Pokrishevsky

Last fall, three long-time School of Communication employees signed off from SFU.

Professors Robert Anderson, Robert Hackett and administrator Lucie Menkveld chatted with SFU News, reminiscing about their lengthy careers and their time at the university, the changes they witnessed and the role SFU played in their professional and personal lives.

“SFU has given me the freedom to open new doors and work outside the confines of my role,” says Anderson, who joined the university in 1977 and won SFU’s 2018 Chris Dagg Award for International Impact.

Anderson credits his long stay at SFU to good working relations with his peers, co-workers and students.

“My colleagues supported my eccentricities, while my students constantly encouraged me to broaden my horizons.”

That theme of community support is echoed by Menkveld, who began working at SFU in the summer of 1978 as a typing pool employee, later transitioning into a managerial role with the School of Communication.  

“Work was never the same thing day after day—it was always changing,” says Menkveld, who says she was proud to be part of a progressive university that afforded her job security and benefits.

“Staff are included in various school activities and not left on the sidelines to accomplish their work.”

Hackett, who researches journalism and democracy, received the SFU 2018 Warren Gill Award for Community Impact. He attributed his long career at the university to a rewarding work environment where he had the freedom to engage in progressive social movements.  

“‘I have always been encouraged to participate in community engagement initiatives and public-oriented campaigns,” said Hackett, co-founder of Media Democracy Day and NewsWatch Canada, which conducts independent research on the diversity and thoroughness of news coverage.

The past four decades have brought many changes to SFU. Among them, expanding the university across three campuses and increasing the number and diversity of students, staff and faculty.

For Hackett, the biggest changes have been the university’s expansion and advancements in technology—he says the university was smaller and more intimate when he joined SFU. Menkveld also notes technology’s impact. She remembers switching from using a typewriter to using a word processor that took up a whole room and used eight-inch floppy discs.

Their retirement from SFU may have begun, but Hackett and Anderson aren’t severing their institutional ties just yet. They have plans to continue furthering their own education, writing and occasionally teaching while also supporting grad students and their studies.