media release

SFU Celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a Campus Kickoff on September 9

September 03, 2015

Marianne Meadahl, University Communications, 778.782.9017,
Monica Bisal, University Communications, 778.782.9964,


Simon Fraser University will launch its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, September 9 with a slate of celebrations, starting with a noon-hour launch party at SFU’s Burnaby campus and capped by a spectacular sold-out Celebrate & Savour evening event, featuring outdoor entertainment, fine cuisine and fireworks. Media are welcome to attend both events.

President Andrew Petter will officially launch the university’s year of 50th anniversary celebrations at a ceremony at SFU’s Burnaby Campus (11:30 – noon).  He will be joined by a group of charter students who were among the more than 2,600 to first attend SFU when the doors opened in September, 1965—and alumnus Riaz Meghji, host of CityTV’s Breakfast Television. The event will also feature the debut of SFU’s new school song.

The festivities will include cake-cutting (at all campuses), a food truck festival and a host of afternoon faculty celebrations.

“Great institutions are a product of those bold enough to set their own course and to adopt new approaches,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. “SFU has been built on this premise. In five decades, we have grown from our radical roots to become Canada’s ‘Engaged University’ known for our dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting edge research and far-reaching community engagement.“

“As we mark this milestone and look forward with excitement to the next fifty years, we invite the community to engage with us on September 9 and at the many events planned for our 50th year.”

Following a late afternoon VIP reception, as many as 2,000 people will converge on SFU’s iconic AQ courtyard under the stars to enjoy a catered evening hosted by Christopher Gaze, SFU alumnus and artistic director of Bard on the Beach.

Guests will dine on a sumptuous array of food created by more than 30 of Metro Vancouver’s top chefs, and enjoy an interactive synthesis of lights, music and live entertainment, including a fusion performance with SFU’s Pipe Band, Bollywood dancers and Aboriginal drummers. A dazzling fireworks display will cap off the evening.

It’s a year of milestones at SFU that include 40 years of delivering SFU’s Co-operative Education Program, the first established in B.C.; the 10th anniversary of the Faculty of Health Sciences, celebrating its contributions to population and public health in Canada and globally; and a decade of the SFU-Zhejiang University Dual Degree Program in computing science, which has created numerous global student success stories.

For a complete list of SFU’s 50th celebration events and the latest updates see and #SFU50.


  • SFU is named after fur trader and explorer Simon Fraser who discovered the Fraser River in 1808. The name reflects the University’s presence serving communities in the lower Fraser Valley.
  • SFU was nicknamed the “instant university” because it was built in an 18-month timeframe, opening on September 9, 1965 with an enrolment of 2,628 students.
  • During the opening ceremonies, honorary Doctor of Laws degrees were bestowed on BC Premier W.A.C. Bennett and Lord Lovat, the 24th Chief of the Fraser Clan. SFU’s opening ceremonies marked the first official opening of a public university in B.C. since 1915.
  • At SFU’s opening in 1965, the University became the first in Canada to offer academic courses on a year-round trimester system and athletic scholarships.
  • SFU was the first in Canada to install student representation on the Senate and the first major Canadian university to install a female president: Pauline Jewett, who served between 1974 and 1978.
  • The beautiful green boulder situated in the reflecting pond in the Academic Quadrangle garden comprises six tons of Lillooet jade, discovered before the University opened, near Hell's Gate in the Fraser Canyon. It is the University's founding stone.
  • SFU’s ceremonial mace weighs 23 pounds. It was commissioned by University architects Arthur Erickson and George Massey, designed by Haida artist Bill Reid and presented at the opening ceremonies on September 9, 1965.
  • SFU’s Vancouver campus opened in 1989 and its Surrey campus opened in 2002.
  • SFU serves a highly diverse population and has one of Canada’s highest percentages of international students (19 per cent).
  • Within the Beedie School of Business, the Executive MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership (established in 2011) and the Americas MBA for Executives (established in 2012) are the first of their kind in Canada and North America.
  • SFU’s School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering is another North American first and integrates mechanical, electronic and software engineering disciplines.
  • In 2014 the School of Computing Science at SFU established one of the first master’s degrees in Big Data. SFU also launched Canada’s first Bachelor of the Environment degree in the same year.
  • Core to SFU’s commitment to student engagement and innovation – SFU established B.C.’s first student business incubator via Venture Connection – with 3,100 participants since 2008. In 2013, the Beedie School of Business also established an interdisciplinary social-innovation lab called RADIUS (radical ideas, useful to society).
  • SFU has topped Maclean’s annual rankings of top comprehensive universities in Canada 11 times over the past 24 years, including 2015, and five straight years (including one tie) between 2008 and 2012.



As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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