A History of Continuing Studies at Simon Fraser U

July 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm 2 comments

Thanks to blogs (and search engines), it’s possible to circulate material that might otherwise get lost on the dusty shelves of archives (or more likely these days, on some deteriorating hard drive).  Here, for instance, is a history of SFU’s Continuing Studies Division (of which the City Program is a part).

Of limited interest, perhaps, to most people – but here’s a quick taste, with the rest of the text ‘below the fold’, as they used to say in the dead-tree world of newsprint.

Provenance: Simon Fraser University. Office of Continuing Studies

The Division of Continuing Education was formed in 1971 in order to develop new academic programs and to improve the accessibility of Simon Fraser University to the community. Milton McClaren, Director of the new division reported directly to the Vice-President, Academic.

The original terms of reference for the Division of Continuing Education were very broad as the Senate had given it responsibility for courses of instruction offered at “times other than the usual times, in places other than the usual places, and in ways other than the normal ways.” A few years later the Senate passed a series of motions, which more precisely defined and described the role of the Division and established new procedures for offering and approving non- credit courses.

By 1973 the Division of Continuing Education offered several types of programs including evening credit courses for undergraduates and graduates; summer session credit courses (primarily for teachers); off campus courses; and non-credit courses, lecture series and workshops. In 1974 the Program for Senior Citizens was created with the assistance of a government grant. Using the “Age of Options” television program it was able to reach out to seniors in Burnaby and in the surrounding communities. Continuing Education further expanded its student base in 1974 by offering courses in interior and non-metropolitan locations such as the Fraser Valley and Kelowna.

In 1975 Dr. Jack Blaney, previously the Associate Director of the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of British Columbia, replaced McClaren as the Dean of the newly renamed Division of Continuing Studies. With this appointment, Blaney became Canada’s first Dean of Continuing Studies. The Center for Distance Education was established in the same year and introduced four university correspondence courses to fifty-five registered students.

In 1976 the Division of Continuing Studies approved the Extended Studies Diploma that enabled students with an undergraduate degree to undertake further study outside of a traditional graduate program. Backed by encouraging enrollment numbers, a proposal was circulated in late 1978 calling for a downtown program that would provide increased access to the university and support existing campus programs.

In February 1980 SFU Downtown officially opened at a storefront location at 822 Howe Street and offered a selection of credit courses for degree completion, career upgrading, and personal interest and development. Organized under a Coordinator of Downtown Programs, courses were structured in six thematic areas: Business and Professional Studies; Urban and Regional Studies; Canadian Studies; Humanities; Health and Fitness Studies; and Social Sciences. The success of the programs soon led to the establishment of the Downtown Education Centre (DEC), a shared space with BCIT located at 549 Howe Street.

In 1984 the Downtown Campus Planning Committee presented an interim report to the Senate Committee on Academic Priorities (SCAP) focusing on areas of program development. As a result, the School for Liberal and Professional Studies was established and used as a vehicle for organizing and marketing downtown-based, non-credit continuing studies courses on behalf of departments and faculties.

By 1985 downtown programs included the Writing Program, the City Program, the Fine Arts Program and the Professional and Management Studies Program. During this time Blaney was appointed as Vice-President, University Development and Extension while continuing to direct Continuing Studies. Blaney, considered the architect of Continuing Studies at SFU, spearheaded the concept of the university’s new campus at Harbour Centre. Opened in 1989 in the historic Spencer Building at 515 West Hastings, the downtown campus was built entirely thorough private sector funding due in part to the strong fundraising efforts of the “Bridge to the Future Campaign.” After almost ten years of planning and development, SFU’s new downtown campus opened with a curriculum of unique, established programs and specialized spaces that included an arts studio, human performance centre, conference centre, and language and computer laboratories.

In the mid-1980’s, Continuing Studies initiated two very distinct, off-campus programs. In 1984 the Prison Education Program (PEP) was launched under contract with the Federal Government. For ten years, Continuing Studies administered the program at four penitentiaries – Kent, Matsqui, Mountain, and William Head/ Metchosin – and offered inmates courses in the Liberal Arts leading to certificate, degree and diploma completion in several academic disciplines. In 1988, the division created an academic partnership with the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (SCES) to develop a university program for native students. The Kamloops-based integrated university program was structured with an emphasis on Native studies and social sciences and students were able to earn a BA degree with a major in Sociology or Anthropology. Meanwhile at the Burnaby campus, Continuing Studies programs and courses continued to grow.

After serving as Assistant Dean for three years, Jo Lynne Hoegg was appointed Dean of Continuing Studies in 1984 (a position she would hold until 1994.) The Applied Sciences Continuing Education Program began offering specialized non-credit courses for local and international audiences, including computer programming courses, a project management program, and in 1996, the Management Skills in Advanced Technology (MSAT) program. Utilizing a medium found in most households, Continuing Studies worked with KCTS/9 and the Knowledge Network to air television programs developed for distance education courses. Through funding from the BC Ministry of Skills, Labour and Training, the Centre for Distance Education Lab was established in 1995. It was later expanded and renamed the LohnLab in 1997 because of a financial donation from the Earl and Jennie Lohn Foundation.

From 1998-1999 Lynn Elen Burton served as Dean and was succeeded by Colin Yerbury in 1999, the current Dean of Continuing Studies. In 2000, the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, a state of the art conference centre devoted to facilitating public and private dialogue, opened across the street from Harbour Centre. Continuing Studies is responsible for the program component of the Centre, which, since its opening, has won worldwide acclaim for its design. SFU’s newest campus location in Surrey (opened in 2002), also offers continuing studies courses and professional development programs for students.

In 2004 the Seniors’ Program celebrated its 29th anniversary. It remains an integral part of SFU’s commitment to “help adults achieve their intellectual, professional and cultural goals through programs for lifelong learning that build on the strengths of the university and resources of the community.” The program continues to offer intellectually challenging non-credit courses each week and it is open to anyone fifty-five years of age and older regardless of their educational background. Tuition is free for seniors sixty years of age or older and a Senior Citizens Certificate is available for those who complete thirty hours of courses.

Continuing Studies continues to expand its curriculum every year, developing courses, seminars and workshops in each of its current programming units. As of 2005, they included the Centre for Distance Education, the Centre for Integrated and Credit Studies and the Center for Community and Professional Programs.

Officers: J. Colin Yerbury, Dean, 1999 – ; Ann Cowan, Associate Dean, 1999 – ; Lynn Elen Burton, Dean, 1998 – 1999; J. Colin Yerbury, Acting Dean, 1997 – 1997; Mark Selman, Associate Dean, 1996 – 1999; J. Colin Yerbury, Associate Dean, 1992 – 1999; Ann Cowan, Associate Dean, 1989 – 1991; Jo Lynne Hoegg, Dean, 1984 – 1994; Jo Lynne Hoegg, Assistant Dean, 1981 – 1984; Jack P. Blaney, Dean, 1975 – 1984; Milton McClaren, Director, 1971 – 1975.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. BillyCrowe  |  August 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to know if this topic MSAT related to http://msumsat.ning.com

    Thanks in advance.


  • 2. Maryann  |  February 24, 2012 at 7:38 am

    hi there. I think the MSAT program was developed with the Faculty of Applied Sciences in 1996 not 86. Great post 🙂


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