SFU prepares for its upcoming 50th birthday

Designed by Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey, the university was built in 1965. Courtesy SFU Archive and Records.


With the university’s 50th birthday less than a year away, SFU administration is preparing a number of events that both students and faculty members can enjoy during the 2015 academic year.

Joanne Curry, SFU associate vice-president, external relations and chair of the 50th Anniversary Planning and Implementation Team mentioned that they “have a whole number of objectives for the 50th celebration, which will essentially take place [from] September 2015 to convocation June 2016.”

According to SFU’s 50th anniversary report, there will be a multitude of events called Signature Initiatives that celebrate a university that has “grown up without growing old.” These will include a World-Wide Week of Welcome, special SFU Clan games and homecomings, and a Burnaby Festival of Learning.

Annual events such as SFU’s Public Square, the Terry Fox Run, the Annual Alumni Gathering, and the President’s BBQ will also be linked to the 50th anniversary celebration.

Different faculties and departments plan to show off their unique initiatives during the anniversary year. For example, Curry speculated that the Faculty of Science might organize a brewing course in which they would brew a specific 50th anniversary beer. “It doesn’t have to be large, it’s up to each department to plan out what they would like to do,” commented Curry.

Curry explained that the university will “use this opportunity to talk about the history of SFU, because it has had such an interesting history, but also [about] the future of SFU.”

Events will celebrate a university that has “grown up without growing old.”

Simon Fraser University opened its doors on September 9, 1965 with an initial class of 2,500 students. The university was named after the explorer Simon Fraser, who discovered the Fraser River in 1808. Originally called Fraser University, the name Simon was added after the administration realised that the abbreviation would otherwise be F.U.

On the university’s 50th birthday, on September 9, 2015, there will be two events: a Morning Ceremony, which will include speeches by SFU president Andrew Petter and other significant community figures, and a Founder’s Ball. During the Founder’s Ball, attendees will be served dinner in Convocation Mall and have a chance to dance under the stars near the AQ Pond. A prominent artist will likely entertain the guests, as well.

Curry noted, “It is an engagement opportunity for the current students, alumni in different countries, prospective students, [and] for [the] community in general.” She stressed the fact that everybody will have the chance to be involved in some form or another throughout the anniversary year.

“It is a great opportunity to raise the profile of SFU. [. . . Some people] have a view from 20 years ago. So, it’s just a great opportunity to showcase SFU and all of its accomplishments and amazing people, students, staff and faculty,” said Curry.

She also noted that the 50th Anniversary Planning and Implementation Team is eager to hear what students would like to see or contribute for “student-led type events.”

Nicole Wong, an SFU co-op student who is helping to plan the anniversary festivities, said, “The anniversary year will be a special one, so be sure to go out and participate in the various events! [. . .] Participating in these events will definitely be a way to ensure that your time at SFU was memorable.”

Curry mentioned that schedules for the fall events will likely be outlined in the spring. “And again, any ideas are more than welcome,” she concluded.