Harbour Centre’s Mission: Life Long Learning for Mid-Career Professionals

May 06, 1989

Grads who work in downtown Vancouver may have watched the transformation of the historic Spencer Building at the corner of Hastings and Richards Streets. The former Sears store at Harbour Centre is now Simon Fraser University’s new satellite campus. By all accounts, the facility is a triumph on many fronts.

Its location is perfectly suited for reaching mid-career professionals seeking to upgrade their qualifications or learn new skills. To that end, Harbour Centre will offer an exciting array of programs and courses that are certain to make a lasting impression on Vancouver’s professional environment. It boasts 100,000 square feet of space with state-of-the-art classrooms, facilities and equipment.

The official opening took place May 5, but courses have been ongoing at the downtown campus since January 1989. Mid0career educational opportunities will be the main focus of SFU at Harbour Centre. This is particularly important to business administration graduates who are often interested in professional development and part0time stud after business hours.

Private support has been the key to the success of SFU at Harbour Centre. Funding for acquiring the facility came from an anonymous private donor. And approximately $10 million of Simon Fraser’s $32.7 million Bridge to the Future campaign chaired by Samuel Belzberg, is for Harbour Centre programs and equipment. The provincial government is providing $1 million annually over ten years for operating costs.

Programs offered through the David Lam Centre for International Communication will provide business professionals with opportunities to learn more about expanding operations in the Pacific Rim. Seminars on organizational behavior and accounting and a host of other programs will be offered through the Faculty of Business Administration. Promotion and registration for these courses will be through continuing studies.

Establishing the Harbour Centre campus as a centre for “recurring advanced education” will serve distinct needs of the community and build on one of SFU’s strengths – providing opportunities for lifelong learning.

Programming at Harbour Centre will combine, whenever possible, teaching with research. This will bring the results of research to the workplace, and the problems of the workplace to research. For the EMBA program, this is particularly appropriate because the business community is, in effect, the program’s research laboratory.

Many of the best models of recurring advanced education are at the premier North American universities – UCLA, Harvard, MIT, to mention a few. In Canada, there are good individual programs but SFU is the first university to establish this thrust as a special part of its mission.

The Harbour Centre facility itself is as exciting as the academic programing. The state-of-the-art Samuel and Frances Belzberg library, offering a collection of approximately 8,000 volumes, is the most visible feature with a glass wall sweeping from sidewalk to front doors.

Books from the main library at Burnaby campus will be accessible by computer catalogue and made available on next day delivery. And clusters of computer terminals will permit students to search the catalogue asd9 well as international databases.

An open mezzanine above the library provides additional study space and service areas. The front doors open to an internal “street” 20 meters wide which gives an open and airy feel to the space. The main floor includes a student services and registration centre and an advanced instructional and computing centre.

There is the 200 seat Fletcher Challenge Canada theatre, a lecture hall, seminar rooms, a cinema, and three “policy” classrooms designed to enhance interactive executive seminars. The Joseph and Rosalie Segal conference centre on the north of the building will be used for symposiums, receptions and other functions. There will also be a gallery lounge.

The second floor reflects the “main street” concept of the first floor with instructional facility offices and research space. Alumni will have a special place at Harbour Centre with a multi-purpose alumni centre. All of the various facilities may be booked by business and community groups when not require for university courses.