Simon Fraser University broke a school record the very first week of the 2022 fall semester: over 3,500 students attended the school’s Welcome Day activities, the largest group the school has ever hosted for such an event. Between games, tours and a barbecue, one thing was clear. Both students and faculty were ready to be back on campus.
There is a lot to be excited about at this year’s top-ranked Comprehensive university. The Burnaby campus has a new dining commons, which can fit over 500 students and features 10 different culinary stations, including a teppanyaki grill, sushi and ice cream. The focus of the dining hall is on local food; nearly half of the ingredients are sourced in British Columbia. The campus opened a new family residence this fall, welcoming students and their families into the 90 apartment-style suites. And plans have been approved for the new First People’s Gathering House, which will act as a gathering space for First Nations staff and students and host events in its 300-person ceremonial hall.
SFU has reinforced its pledge to make climate change a priority. Its global equity portfolio, valued at $450 million as of December of 2021, is completely divested from fossil fuel funds, and the two student-managed investment funds, which oversee more than $34 million, will fully divest from fossil fuels by the end of this year. The school has increased the funds in its Socially Responsible Investment portfolio by $30 million, to $53 million, and cut its greenhouse gas emissions down by half, exceeding its 2021 goals.
An investment of $6.5 million over three years from the provincial government and $10 million over five years from the feds will help fund the new B.C. Centre of Agritech Innovation at the Surrey campus, where the focus will be on food security, both local and global. The first cohort at the School of Sustainable Engineering, also on the Surrey campus, will graduate this fall. Students in the inaugural class worked with the city of Vancouver to retrofit the popular Stanley Park train, once gasoline powered, into an electric vehicle.
After a two-year consultation process, the SFU varsity teams unveiled their new name this fall: the SFU Red Leafs. The name reflects the hope that the entire country can rally behind SFU athletes, the only ones in Canada who compete in the U.S.-based NCAA league. Something else to cheer for at SFU: the school announced this past July that it is seeking certification as a Living Wage employer in B.C., becoming the first public university in Canada to announce its intent to do so.