Written by: Dev Petrovic, Staff Writer

President and Vice-Chancellor Joy Johnson recently announced the addition of a new executive position at SFU: Vice-President (VP), People, Equity, and Inclusion. The Peak had the chance to hear from President Johnson through an email interview, regarding the expectations of the position.

“The new VP will be responsible for bringing a strategic and integrated approach to hiring, supporting, and developing faculty and staff,” said President Johnson. She elaborated that the position will have responsibilities in creating an SFU-wide equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) plan that will be established in close collaboration with the Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President Students and International Rummana Khan Hemani. 

President Johnson explained that survey feedback from stakeholders and university leaders outlined the need for senior leadership to push forward EDI. 

“It is difficult for one VP to drive this change forward without the areas of responsibility and resources to do so. Because so much of the structural change will need to be driven by functions in Human Resources and Faculty Relations,” noted President Johnson. She expressed that appointing an executive to be accountable for an integrated EDI and faculty human resources plan will ensure “a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive institutional culture.”

According to President Johnson, “There will be a robust community engagement process to create the position description and candidate profile. That community engagement process will be open to students, faculty, and staff.” 

The position is intended to improve equity and inclusivity at SFU by identifying strategies for recognizing and dismantling institutional racism. Johnson explained that this work “will include setting a vision and measurable objectives toward achieving that vision.”

“Our approach [ . . . ] needs to be intersectional. A person’s social location is made up of multiple factors such as gender, race, class, and ability — we need to understand and appreciate the ways these structures converge to create differentiated access to resources and opportunity.” 

President Johnson was not able to comment on specific steps that will be taken to achieve an EDI strategy as the position is in its early stages of being created, but she anticipates that the work will result in improvement at SFU through the process of recruiting and engaging faculty and staff. 

The Vice-President, People, Equity, and Inclusion position will be on the university executive board and consult decisions with President Johnson. The new VP will be responsible for determining what resources and support they need to do their work and  includes deciding the required work for other senior roles. 

“As with all critical issues at SFU, we will continue our consultative, collaborative approach and the VP will consult with a broad range of stakeholders in gathering input, including students, faculty, and staff.”

This new VP will also be accountable for ensuring that EDI values are practiced and implemented throughout institutional decision-making. 

“It’s also important to note that [ . . . ] the work of creating a more equitable and inclusive university community is a responsibility we all share. There is work being done within Student Services and in our faculties to advance equity and inclusion on behalf of students. The new VP will be asked to consider how to integrate EDI initiatives for students with those for faculty and staff.”