Sandy Vanderburgh appointed KPU’s incoming provost

Wed, Apr 10, 2019

Dr. Sandy Vanderburgh’s career has come full circle after being named the incoming provost and vice-president academic at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). He was a sessional instructor at KPU early in his career before moving into leadership roles at post-secondary institutions in the Fraser Valley and Alberta.

Vanderburgh will replace Dr. Sal Ferreras, who announced last year that he was exploring new ventures after a six-year tenure at KPU. He will start as incoming provost in May 2019 as part of a transition that will see him take up the full role on July 1.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been able to work in the post-secondary sector, working around brilliant people, students, and people who want to learn. It’s been an amazing career so far and I’m really excited about coming back to KPU,” says Vanderburgh.

“Going back to my very first experiences at KPU, it was clear that student success was front and centre. That wasn’t very long after the transition to Kwantlen University College and the importance of student success has always been important to me. I’ve enjoyed serving institutions that were focused on student success and with faculty that want to engage students in the learning and research process.”

Research has been a central part of Vanderburgh’s 26-year academic career, which includes more than 50 authored or co-authored articles, with coastal erosion along the Pacific North West in Oregon and Washington State being a focal point.

“It’s very applied and hands on research and engages students in the work. This is another skill I bring to KPU – how to get students engaged in the research process from very early on in their academic careers,” adds Vanderburgh. “KPU is so well regarded for its strength in teaching and learning and I think there’s also a big opportunity to augment that with growth in applied research and innovation.”

Vanderburgh says his work in Alberta as interim vice-president academic at Medicine Hat College and as a dean at Lethbridge College have given him a valuable grounding in entrepreneurial and innovative program delivery to meet industry needs.

“I’d like to focus on helping KPU be innovative in how we provide learning opportunities for students and how we provide less traditional training to students outside of degrees and diplomas, such as looking at micro-credentials and the recognition of work experience,” he says. “This fits in really well with the changing needs of students. Students now want to have a job when they come out of post-secondary, more so than ever before.”

As Canada’s only polytechnic university and with a strong strategic plan in place, KPU is well positioned to innovate and adjust to the global challenges facing post-secondary education, says Vanderburgh.

“I’m pretty lucky walking into a VISION 2023 plan that is already laid out with a supporting academic plan,” he adds. “Those are two significant pieces in place that we can build on. I see a lot of potential in those plans in terms of setting KPU up for the future.

“KPU hasn’t been an institution that has shied away from change. It’s in the fabric of the institution that it’s willing to change, willing to be innovative and willing to think about the future.”