People of VPFA

Chief facilities officer gone fishing

May 30, 2023
Larry Waddell, chief facilities officer, has gone fishing. Please note: No fish were in the water during the photo shoot.

“The opportunity to work together, solve problems and bring dreams to reality at SFU for the past 15 plus years is what I will miss the most.”

After an illustrious tenure serving SFU, chief facilities officer Larry Waddell has announced his retirement, effective May 31, 2023.

Waddell first visited SFU's Burnaby campus in 1991 to look at the Facilities Services department’s space management system. “I remember thinking that this looked like it would be a great place to work,” Waddell says.

In 2008, Waddell was hired as director of campus planning and development in Facilities Services. After the previous chief facilities officer announced his retirement, Waddell became the successful candidate in 2012.

Transforming the SFU experience for students was a career highlight for Waddell and he says that “projects like the Student Union Building, Student Residences, Dining Commons and Stadium were real game changers for the quality of spaces for students at Burnaby Campus.”

In 2009, a project funded by a federal stimulus initiative for the Shrum Chemistry building renewal cemented Waddell’s love of collaborating with folks across the university. “It was an extraordinary team effort working within challenging timelines with the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Campus Planning & Development to pull together, allowing Chemistry to maintain classes and research, and create a modern facility for students, faculty and staff.”

“Larry always considers the campus experience and interests of SFU when it comes to campus planning,” remarks Martin Pochurko, vice president of finance and administration. “At the same time, he’s not afraid to share unpopular opinions.”

Waddell’s talents as a leader helped guide complex projects such as developing a biomass energy centre with Corix Utilities that would end up aiding the university in substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions years ahead of target or when working with the City of Surrey to develop a new vision for what will become a major city center between SFU’s Surrey campus and Surrey City Hall.

“Larry has always been an advocate for the well-being and fair treatment of the employees in Facilities Services and the important role they each play at SFU,” Pochurko adds.

Waddell has emphasized empowering his team to make changes to improve their workplace, the work they do and the service they provide in alignment with supporting the mission of the university.

After 43 years of working and 15 of those at SFU, he is looking forward to retirement to pursue his non-work passions. An avid baseball fan and player as well as a recreational angler, Waddell hopes to spend some well-deserved time chasing after his seven grandchildren in Michigan and catching the elusive steelhead trout in Chilliwack’s Vedder River.

“If I have had any success in leading Facilities Services, it is due in large part to the great team of people I have had working with me. Each day they are doing so many things that make our campuses and facilities great places to live, work and study. They have made me look good by their great work. I am extremely lucky and grateful for their efforts.”