Roger Barnsley, the retired and founding president of Thompson Rivers University, had hoped for a return to Kamloops to help celebrate the post-secondary institution’s 50th anniversary in 2020.
The emeritus president, who served from 1998 to 2010, typically drops by the campus about once a year.
“It’s been unfortunate that COVID hit this year and they weren’t able to have the kinds of celebrations they were hoping to have,” Barnsley told KTW in December. “I would have loved to have gone back and wandered around the campus.”
During his tenure as president, Barnsley oversaw myriad changes at TRU, — most notably acquiring university status in the mid-2000s — along with the establishment of many new buildings and programs.
In the 10 years since he’s been gone, Barnsley said he has watched as the university has accomplished much more, from a growing student population to expanding opportunities for Indigenous students, and from a commitment to climate change and sustainability to even more new buildings and programs.
“I’m incredibly proud of what they’ve done. Everybody that’s ever been there has added something to the legacy of TRU,” Barnsley said.
The now 78-year-old and wife Paula have called the small town of Parksville, on Vancouver Island, home for about a decade.
But it hasn’t been much of a retirement as Barnsley has kept busy with numerous organizations.
He has served on the board of the Islands Health Authority for five years and on the board of the Drug Benefits Council of British Columbia. Barnsley also co-chaired the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfers — a provincial organization that facilitates student transfers between the province’s post-secondary institutions.
His most time-consuming organization has been the BC Automobile Association, the board of which he currently chairs.
In 2014 Barnsley was a recipient of the Order of B.C.
During his downtime, Barnsley spends much of his time with wife and best friend Paula. The couple enjoys photography and walking their dog each morning.
The Barnsleys also co-authored a chapter in a recently released book titled, Relative Age Effects in Sport — a topic on which they have published many papers.
“As a retired academic, we still do a bit of research, written some articles,” Barnsley said.
The couple has also taken many trips in the past decade, having travelled to places such as Africa and the Amazon. They also spend plenty of time with their grandchildren.
“We’ve had quite a wonderful 10 years,” Barnsley said.
The Barnsleys have managed to enjoy every day despite the backdrop of the pandemic — keeping a tight social bubble and only visiting with friends via Zoom.
“We’re delighted with every day, but you know, every day is the same and it’s getting like Groundhog Day and we’re getting really bored,” Barnsley said with a laugh.
They have two sons, one who lives with his wife and three children in nearby Nanaimo and another in Toronto with his wife and two children, all of whom they hope to be able to visit once they can get the COVID-19 vaccine and travelling and gathering restrictions are eased.