Farewell to former TRU president Alan Shaver

President of eight years says goodbye to TRU at heartwarming event

Kamloops mayor Ken Christian was one of many in attendance to give Shaver a final farewell. (Elizabeth Nygren/The Omega)

Over 100 students, faculty, and friends came to a farewell gathering for former TRU president, Alan Shaver.

The farewell event took place at the Campus Activity Centre on September 7 and was full of laughter, tears, and many kind words from colleagues and friends of Shaver. The affair began with a cultural performance by ‘Drum Africa’, a student drum and dance group, which ended with a gift for the former president; a shirt usually bestowed upon royalty. This gift was a thank you for all of Shaver’s support towards culture at TRU.

After the performance, there were many speakers to acknowledge Shaver’s work over the years, as well as to share their personal experiences with the president. Many were humourous and all were heartfelt.

Plenty spoke at the event in regards to Shaver, including TRU chancellor Nathan Matthew, executive director of TRU Aboriginal Affairs Paul Michel, Kamloops mayor Ken Christian, TRU board chair Jim Thomson, and vice-president administration & finance Matt Milovick.

Matthew began his speech by talking about getting to know Shaver and how the former president was dedicated to making Thompson Rivers University a better place for higher learning. He then discussed his thoughts of Shaver and how he was a determined and respectful leader. 

“As a result of my relationship with you, I have become a better and stronger person and that doesn’t happen every time,” Matthew said. “On behalf of the university thank you for all that you’ve done.”

Throughout the 2-hour event, Shaver was given many gifts, including a statue presented by Christian, deer gloves made by Cecil DeRose from Williams Lake presented by interim vice-president advancement Guy Mallabone and moccasins from Elder Loretta Seymour presented by executive director of TRU Aboriginal Affairs Paul Michel. The statue’s significance gained many gasps from the audience, as Christian gave Shaver the Pioneer Spirit Award for 2018 on behalf of Kamloops City Council.

Lastly to speak was of course president Alan Shaver himself, who spoke of how overwhelmed he was by the amount of support given at this farewell event. He also discussed access to education and how it has changed since his parents time.

“I came here on a mission. The people of Kamloops deserve access to a full service university and TRU is a full service university,” Shaver said when recalling his decision to come to Thompson Rivers University.

He acknowledged that it took some time to convince people of that, but he believes TRU is a full service university and would like to thank everyone who made that possible.

However, retirement isn’t exactly in Shaver’s immediate future. He will now be chairing the Innovate BC Board, where he will help lead the agency’s delivery of programs that support innovation, entrepreneurship and business development in B.C.’s tech sector.

For the mean time, until Brett Fairbairn takes over as president in December, provost Christine Bovis-Cnossen will be TRU’s interim president.