TRU one of 11 universities searching for a president

The TRU Presidential Search Committee fielding questions and comments at the open consultation on Oct. 25. (Jennifer Will/The Omega)

TRU president Alan Shaver’s term expires in August 2018 and the university’s search for his successor is underway. Staff, students, faculty and community members gathered on Oct. 24 and 25 in the Grand Hall to provide their input on what traits and skills they’d like to see in TRU’s next president.

Jim Thomson, search committee chair, said that TRU is a unique institution and that the committee’s goal is to find a tailor-made candidate.

Thomson said they held these two open consultations for everyone to attend as it is important to hear from the people who will be most affected by the new leadership.

“We’re trying to get a grassroots approach, where it’s not from the top down and we listen to people, and we engage with them, and we answer questions and we get their input,” Thomson said.

Along with the two consultations that were open to the public, the committee met with several other groups on and off campus. On campus, the committee gathered input from faculty associations, the students’ union and the alumni association. It also met with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Leadership Relations Alignment and Communication Committee, and the Association of Professional Administrators. The committee also held consultations with the TRU senate, the planning council for open learning, the president’s council, the First Nations community and the TRU board of governors.

During these consultations, Thomson said feedback shows desire for a good communicator, someone who is respectable and intelligent, and someone who can lead a team with confidence.

“We’re looking for a strong leader with a vision, somebody who is a people person, somebody who will take the time to learn the unique aspects and the history of TRU and that will respect the culture that’s here,” Thomson said.

The wish list of attributes and skills the next president should have is long and Thomson said that the competition to find the perfect candidate may be stiff. He added that, in Canada, there are 11 universities searching for a president right now.

“Will we find the perfect person who meets every requirement? Probably not, but we’ll try and find the best fit,” Thomson said.

Competition from other university searches may not be TRU’s only challenge. The president’s current salary is frozen and capped at $200,000 per year, not including expenses. This restriction may make it harder to attract candidates that TRU wants.

“We are doing what we can to lobby the government [to increase salary caps], because that could cause a failed search,” Thomson said.

Thomson says a failed search would cost the university money, resources and much more.

“There is a huge risk associated with a failed search,” Thomson said. “A lot of momentum lost and a lot of good things that are happening here may get stalled.”

TRU’s Presidential Search Committee is composed of 15 members, seven of which were appointed by the senate. This includes five faculty members: Lyn Baldwin from science, Judy Duchscher from nursing, David Hill from arts, Wendy Hulko from education and social work, and Marion Oke from student development. It also includes one staff member, Evan Hilchey the director of student affairs and one student, Evan Choy from the school of business and economics.

The board also contains four administrators appointed by the president: Christine Adam, the dean of students, Baihua Chadwick, associate vice-president international and CEO global operations and TRU World, Matt Milovick, vice-president administration and finance and Don Poirier, senior director strategic partnerships and open learning.

Three of the committee are board members Jim Thomson, Barbara Berger and Rick Heney who were appointed by TRU’s board of directors The final member, Fiona Chan, was appointed by both the alumni association and the TRU Foundation.

The university has also contracted executive search firm The Geldart Group to help it find a new president.

If you have any questions or suggestions about TRU’s next president you can email the search committee at