Board reappoints Petter as SFU President

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On Nov. 28, the Board of Governors unanimously approved Andrew Petter’s reappointment as SFU’s President for a second five-year term, to begin on Sept. 1, 2015.

The Committee to Review the President Prior to Reappointment surveyed student, faculty, staff, administration and decanal representatives over the past few months when considering Petter’s interest in retaining the position. In the end, the Committee found that the responses indicated “a very broad measure of support for the President’s reappointment . . . [demonstrating that] Professor Petter had achieved a high degree of success in fulfilling the mandate that he had been given when he was initially appointed. ”

In an announcement, Brian E. Taylor, board chair, expressed his personal support for Petter. “President Petter has been an excellent President to date and has the clear potential to become a great President,” wrote Taylor.

He continued, “The feedback, both positive and negative that was received by the committee and provided to President Petter, will greatly assist him in the coming years.”

“It’s important not to stay at an institution unless you sense that  changing them from one-way traffic to two-way traffic, and constructing a multi-use pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. there is support for you to do so,” Petter told The Peak last Friday. “We’ve kind of set the stage for doing things, and there’s more to be done. And my feeling was that [there was] probably more to be done than could be accomplished in one and a half years.”

“We could become the exemplar of how universities can contribute much more in the future.”

– Andrew Petter, President of SFU

“Not to sound too self-serving, but I was surprised at how positive the response was, because in these kinds of processes the people who respond are people who are least happy, and there was some of that,” said Petter. He continued, “There were a few comments that made you say, ‘oh wow, I didn’t know people saw it that way,’ either for better or for worse. But yeah, I’d say maybe the absence of surprises was the most surprising.”

Since Petter finalised his vision statement of the “engaged” university in 2012, he feels that the university has made great strides concerning improved food services (student satisfaction has risen from 44 per cent to 74 per cent without raising prices) and indigenous student initiatives. Major projects like Build SFU and increasing access to courses are still to be supported, but the same challenges that have always faced SFU, such as being a commuter campus, remain. For Petter, the solution to this problem lies not in change, but in reevaluating our assets.

“It’s a matter of not trying to be who we aren’t, a liberal arts college nestled in an ivy league building and celebrating its 200th anniversary, but the university that we are, and try to make that the strength,” said Petter.

Petter explained his vision for the SFU’s future as being a school that can take the dimensions of a classic university education and make them work for the benefit of society in a way that actually adds value to education.

“I would really like to think that we could become the exemplar of how universities can contribute much more in the future than the so-called ivory tower has aspired to do in the past,” said Petter.

“I think there is a culture that runs through this university, within the faculty, the student body, the staff here, that people really want this university to do more and to be seen to contribute more than a traditional university would, and that’s what keeps me going every day.”

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