Education leader receives honorary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Tue, Jun 2, 2020

Simon Fraser University President and Vice-Chancellor Andrew Petter has been granted an honorary degree by Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Petter, who will complete a ten-year presidential term at SFU this summer, has been a pioneer in education throughout his career. He guided SFU’s development as an “engaged university,” enlarging its presence in the City of Surrey, and before that helped to establish a graduate law program and Indigenous initiatives while dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria.

“In the region south of the Fraser River, Andrew has spent a lot of time understanding the community and building the programming and impact at SFU Surrey,” says KPU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis. “While SFU is to some degree a competitor to KPU, Andrew has always been collaborative and any success he gains only serves to inspire us and lift our game.”

Covid-19 precautions prevented KPU holding a formal convocation ceremony in the first week of June so the honorary degree was announced in a video tribute to the Spring Class of 2020.

“I am hugely honoured to receive this recognition from Kwantlen Polytechnic University,” says Petter. “SFU and KPU share deep commitments as community builders, and it has been my huge privilege over the past decade to work with KPU to demonstrate the capacities of our two institutions to enhance the economic and social well-being of Surrey and surrounding communities.”         

Petter pursued undergraduate studies at the former Notre Dame University in Nelson, before earning his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria and receiving the Law Society of BC Gold Medal. He subsequently earned a Master of Law with first-class honours from Cambridge University.

He taught at the University of Victoria for five years before being elected to the provincial legislature as MLA for Saanich South in 1991. His decade in politics included numerous cabinet portfolios, including   Minister of Advanced Education, Training and Technology from 1998 to 2000, during which time he broke ground on TechBC, subsequently to become SFU’s Surrey campus.

In 2001, Petter returned to academia and became Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. During his tenure, the Faculty created an interdisciplinary graduate law program and worked with northern partners to deliver the Akitsiraq Law School for Inuit students in Nunavut. His academic work has focused on constitutional law and public policy, including Canadian federalism and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Petter became President of Simon Fraser University in 2010 and expanded the university’s position within its communities. In Surrey, the construction of SFU’s Sustainable Energy Engineering Building created a physical legacy, but his impact has been felt more broadly in the community through innovative new programs and initiatives.

“While Andrew firmly and strategically positioned SFU Surrey as a key driver in this city, he was always mindful and respectful of KPU, and its position as the teaching-intensive university for the South Fraser Region,” says Marlyn Graziano, KPU’s Vice-President, External Affairs. “Andrew and his senior leadership team collaborated frequently with KPU not just on program development but on advocacy for the post-secondary sector in the region.”

Petter was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2018 for his commitment and leadership in advancing university-community engagement and higher education throughout the country.