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TRU president sends letter to faculty, staff about investigation of complaint against senior executives

Brett Fairbairn said he is concerned how the situation will impact the university and maintains the university remains a safe and respectful work environment
Brett Fairbairn TRU
Thompson Rivers University president and vice-chancellor Brett Fairbairn.

In the wake of KTW and CBC Kamloops stories about an investigation into two Thompson Rivers University executives, university president Brett Fairbairn on Nov. 24 issued a letter to faculty and staff, stating he is concerned how the situation will impact the university and maintaining the university remains a safe and respectful work environment.

“If there are experiences of inappropriate workplace behaviour, we support people within our processes to come forward so concerns can be investigated and addressed,” Fairbairn said in the letter.

TRU vice-president of finance and administration Matt Milovick and associate vice-president of people and culture Larry Phillips are under investigation by TRU’s board of governors after an anonymous complaint was sent to the board in February of this year, alleging discriminatory conduct, discriminatory statements and/or harassment.

The complaint from at least 13 current and former university employees alleges incidents of sexual harassment of female servers, misogynistic references to women and disparagement of Indigenous people at TRU and in the community, among other purported incidents. None of the allegations in the complaint have been proven as the university’s investigation into the matter continues. 

While some specific allegations have been detailed by media, Fairbairn said the university, as a public institution, is subject to privacy legislation.

“When I speak on behalf of TRU, I generally cannot share any information about any identifiable individual,” the letter reads.

Furthermore, he called it “troubling” to see stories circulating anonymously by email and in the media prior to completion of an investigation.

“I would like to stress that in connection with the allegations and the ensuing investigation process, TRU must maintain neutrality regarding both the complainants and the respondents to respect the integrity of the process,” Fairbairn wrote.