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The Academic Relations Office is the planning, policy advising and administration office for faculty, professional librarians and archivists, and academic administrators at SFU. The Office was established in 1988 with the appointment of Sharon Cochran as Director. Its main functions are to coordinate human-resources services for faculty personnel; advise faculty and provide administrative support to the appointment, renewal, tenure, promotion, and salary review processes; and liaise with the SFU Faculty Association. Prior to 1988, a number of these responsibilities had been carried out within the Office of the Vice-President, Academic (VPA) by Alison Watt in her position as the Assistant to the Vice-President (1978-1990).
Throughout its history, Academic Relations has always belonged the VPA's reporting portfolio. From its establishment in 1988 until the departure of its first Director in 1996, Academic Relations reported directly to the VPA. Subsequently, the Associate VPA, Judith Osborne, assumed direct responsibility for the unit from 1996 to 2001. A new Director, Sue Roppel, was appointed in 2001 following a reorganization of senior administrative portfolios at the university. This saw the incumbent Associate VPA (Osborne) move to the new post of Associate Vice-President, Policy, Equity and Legal, and the mandate of the Associate VPA redefined, shifting from academic employment relations to academic planning and budgeting.