The search for TRU's fourth president is completed


April 12, 2018

Dear TRU Community,

On behalf of TRU's Board of Governors and Presidential Search Committee, I'm pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Brett Fairbairn as TRU's next president and vice-chancellor.

Dr. Fairbairn is a distinguished academic who has taught and conducted research at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) for over 30 years. He is a Rhodes Scholar, a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and has held numerous grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. During his time at the U of S, Dr. Fairbairn held increasingly senior leadership positions including provost and vice-president academic, head of the department of history, and director of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives. Currently, he teaches at Saskatchewan's Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

Dr. Fairbairn has a BA from U of S, a BA (Hon. 1st class) in Modern History from Oxford University, and a Doctorate in Modern History, also from Oxford where he attended on a Rhodes scholarship. A full professor, Dr. Fairbairn's research has focused on the history and interdisciplinary study of democracy, social movements, and cooperative enterprises in Canada and around the world, culminating in more than 80 publications, his most recent book being Co-operative Canada; Empowering Communities and Sustainable Businesses.

As a strong believer in the duty of citizens to contribute to their communities, Dr. Fairbairn has served in voluntary leadership roles including Chair of the Saskatchewan Academic Health Sciences Network, and Chair of the Saskatchewan Archives Board. For his university and public contributions, he was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

When he's not busy teaching or researching, Dr. Fairbairn and his wife Norma plan for their next excursion in the mountains. Avid hikers, they are looking forward to relocating to B.C. and exploring the Interior's natural environment.

As you may recall, the search for a new president began in earnest last fall with the formation of a search committee and the hosting of 20 stakeholder meetings; we wanted to hear from both our university community and individuals in the Kamloops region what was important in choosing our next leader. With that input in mind, the 16-member committee worked through an initial candidate list of 41 applicants, shortlisted candidates over two phases, and conducted lengthy interviews in large and small group settings before making our final selection. I'm pleased to say that the committee - as diverse as it was with its faculty, student, staff, alumni, indigenous, TRU World, Open Learning and Board of Governors' representation - was unanimous in its choice. This speaks strongly to the calibre of the candidate and the confidence placed on him to serve TRU as president and vice-chancellor in the years to come.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support of The Geldart Group, an executive search firm that supported us through this process. Additionally, on behalf of our Board, I'd like to express our appreciation for the participation and dedication of our search committee members. Without their support, we would not be where we are today. A full listing of those involved is included further below.

Dr. Fairbairn will officially become TRU's next president and vice-chancellor on Dec. 1, 2018. Current President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Shaver will continue to lead the university until he steps down on August 31, at which time current Provost and Vice-President Academic Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen will serve as interim president until Dr. Fairbairn's arrival. The senior leadership will be working with our Board's Vice-Chair Barbara Berger in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition of our new president.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Fairbairn to TRU!

Jim Thomson
Chair, TRU Board of Governors

February 1, 2018


Much has been done since posting the advertising in November and our search for Thompson Rivers University’s next President is on track and proceeding well.

The next steps include the preparation of a short list of candidates, subsequent to a first round of interviews.

On behalf of the Search Committee, I want to thank everyone for their ongoing support and continued respect for the need for confidentiality.

If you have any comments, please forward them to our search firm at

Yours truly,

Jim Thomson
Chair, Board of Governors
Chair, President Search Advisory Committee

December 20, 2017

The recruitment efforts for the presidential search are underway and the response to the opportunity has been positive both nationally and globally. The Geldart Group continues to engage in conversations to generate interest and present this opportunity to potential candidates.