Throughout his distinguished career, William Saywell has tirelessly promoted British Columbia both at an educational level and on an international scale.
Raised in Lake Cowichan, William Saywell completed his doctorate at the University of Toronto, majoring in 20th Century Chinese affairs.
He has lived and travelled throughout East Asia including a one-year posting as First Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. He has written and lectured extensively on such topics as Chinese history and current Chinese political, economic, foreign and military affairs.
Upon his return to the University of Toronto, he held a number of senior administrative posts including Vice-Provost and Chair of the Department of Asian Studies.
In 1983 he was offered the presidency of Simon Fraser University, serving two highly successful five-year terms. Under his leadership, the university grew by 40 per cent and he headed a $65-million fundraising drive.
In 1993, William Saywell was named president and chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific Foundation, an independent organization which orients Canadian businesses to opportunities in the Pacific Rim. In addition he serves on a number of boards including Westcoast Energy, and SPAR Aerospace Ltd. He is currently chair of the Canadian National Committee of Pacific Economic Cooperation.