By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer
On January 5, 2022, SFU announced the hiring of Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson as the first vice-president, people, equity, and inclusion (VPPEI). Gilpin-Jackson is currently an adjunct faculty member for the Beedie School of Business and has previously worked as the executive director of organizational development for Fraser Health. She will begin her work on April 15, 2022.
The creation of this new administration position led to extensive online consultation between SFU, SFSS, and student groups on campus. SFU Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) and SFSS members advertised the consultation to the SFU community to ensure diverse input was submitted.
The VPPEI aims to “represent the diversity of people, ideas, and cultures to the fullest of ways throughout our institution.” It is part of SFU’s work towards reconciliation, anti-oppression, and the inclusion of BIPOC leaders at the institution.
This announcement comes after SFU recently signed onto the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Higher Education in November 2021. This charter commits post-secondary institutions to creating leadership that is equitable across all areas of the institution for Black students, faculty, and staff.
Balqees Jama, president of SOCA, said to The Peak, “This is thrilling news to welcome Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson as the Inaugural VPPEI!
“We thank the community and allies for supporting the campaign for SFU to establish this new VPPEI role and ensuring proper consultations centering Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and the voices of the various equity-seeking groups were heard during the process,” she said.
Former SFSS president and SOCA member Osob Mohamed participated in the hiring committee and “ensured the voices of students were heard during the process, commitment to meaningful equity, and centering the voices of marginalized students,” according to Jama.
In a statement to The Peak, SFU president Joy Johnson said, “Since I began my role as president, I have had many conversations about how we can make SFU a more equitable and inclusive community.
“In recent years, several reports and recommendations, including the recent Diversity Meter survey, have called for a senior leadership role to guide our institutional approach to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
“This position, and the hiring of Dr. Gilpin-Jackson, are important steps in our journey. The vice president, people, equity, and inclusion will oversee a number of [departments], including faculty relations, human resources, and an EDI support unit,” said Johnson.
This will allow “SFU to create a more strategic approach for the development of our organization and employees,” according to Johnson. The VPPEI will “ensure that EDI values are embedded in decision-making and institutional strategies.”
Gilpin-Jackson has worked with the United Nations Development Programme to create a program in South Africa aimed at repairing and building a relationship between white settler communities and Black South African Indigenous communities.
On January 8, Gilpin-Jackson tweeted, “Thank you for all the show of support and congratulatory messages! With this level of support I know we can work together to turn every challenge into solutions and possibilities. Onward . . . ”