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SFU Surrey marks 20 years as the heart of innovation in the community

September 08, 2022

SFU’s Surrey campus celebrates 20 years in September, marking its growth from a betaspace in Surrey Place Mall (now Central City Mall) to an expanded campus embedded in downtown Surrey.

In 2002, SFU’s Surrey Campus opened its doors, in a space formerly occupied by the Technical University of British Columbia (TechBC), with more than 500 students studying for degrees in unique, tech-focused programs. In 2006, a new campus facility designed by the late Bing Thom opened on top of the mall which helped to revitalize Surrey’s downtown and catalyze its growth and development. A second campus building—also designed by Thom—opened in 2019.

Expanding Higher Education South of the Fraser

Over the past two decades, the need for post-secondary education south of the Fraser River has led to steady enrolment growth at SFU’s Surrey campus, resulting in new programs and schools in Mechatronic Systems Engineering and Sustainable Energy Engineering. Together with the School of Interactive Arts and Technology and programs from business to education, from science to the humanities, SFU Surrey has become a higher education destination of choice for students from all over the world.

As we look back, we also look forward to the next 20 years. New pathways will lead to future skill development and career opportunities, including the recent announcements of a Centre for Agri-tech Innovation and Quantum Algorithm institute, and planning for a medical school in partnership with Fraser Health and the First Nations Health Authority.

Strengthening academic, research and community partnerships

SFU’s deep partnerships with the City of Surrey, Fraser Health and business sector have helped seed a vibrant, dynamic and growing health technology district in Surrey’s downtown core and beyond. These partnerships have led to targeted solutions to health care such as the ImageTecheBrain and WearTech Labs.

Longstanding collaborations with the City of Surrey, Surrey Board of Trade and Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association continue to advance social and economic development. The SFU Surrey – TD Community Engagement Centre, for example, works with more than 100 community partners and has delivered programs and services to more than 17,000 children, youth and newcomers to Canada. Since its inception nearly 15 years ago, SFU’s Coast Capital Venture Connection, an entrepreneurship incubator, has supported more than 13,500 students across the university.

“Twenty years after our founding, SFU Surrey is woven deeply into the fabric of this community,” says SFU Surrey Campus Executive Director, Stephen Dooley. “This extraordinary story began with a vision to redevelop the Central City Mall and has resulted in a vibrant and growing urban campus that is transforming the educational, social and economic landscape. Integral to our success has been the campus’s Surrey Advisory Committee – a special thank you for their support and guidance over the years.”

Commitments to reconciliation

SFU Surrey resides on the unceded traditional territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Kwikwetlem, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations, and has made it a priority to develop its relationship with the host nations.

In 2019, SFU signed a partnership agreement with the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee to support the region’s Indigenous students and community. The university has also partnered with the Surrey School District to create the Tah-tul-ut Indigenous Education Pathways program for Indigenous students considering a career in education. 

The Surrey campus is also indigenizing its space, with plans to install Indigenous welcome figures at the Surrey campus.

Commemorating the milestone

The campus will celebrate 20 years of teaching, research and community engagement in Surrey on September 9, with other marquee events, including a campus open house on October 27.

For more information about the Surrey Campus 20th anniversary visit the SFU Surrey campus website for a full calendar of events.