Simon Verdun-Jones Obituary, Death – Our hearts break with the news of the demise of Professor emeritus Simon Verdun-Jones on August 21, 2023, after a courageous struggle with cancer. His work will continue to influence students and scholars in the School of Criminology and the subject of criminology at Simon Fraser University.
Professor Verdun-Jones played a crucial role in establishing the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. In 1985, he helped lead the department as it became its own school, and he went on to serve in those roles twice. His great leadership, relentless passion, and forward-thinking vision were instrumental in recruiting more than 30 highly talented faculty members to SFU’s Criminology department.
Professor Verdun-Jones devoted his career to investigating the interplay between criminal behavior and mental health. He spoke out strongly against police treatment of people with mental illness and advocated for their rights. Professor Verdun-Jones was an excellent teacher. He was a virtuoso at capturing his audience’s attention and holding it throughout his lectures and seminars. In 2004, he received the SFU Excellence in Teaching Award for his outstanding pedagogical abilities.
Over the course of his career, Professor Verdun-Jones supervised the theses of about fifty advanced degree and honors students. Retirement in 2019 prompted the planting of a Japanese maple tree in the Saywell Hall courtyard to celebrate his many years of service. The School has honored him with a small plaque next to the tree to show how much they care. Professor Verdun-Jones is a living embodiment of the dedication’s closing Italian words, ancora imparo (Still, I am learning).