TRU drops lawsuit against estate of donor Irving Barber

Irving K. Barber at the announcement of the $1.5 million donation to the House of Learning assembly hall on June 17, 2010. (TRU)

Thompson Rivers University has dropped its lawsuit against the estate of Irving K. Barber, the namesake of the House of Learning’s Barber Centre.

The university agreed to drop the suit on June 22. The suit, seeking $1.275 million plus damages and interest, was originally filed in August 2014.

Barber, who died in 2012 at the age of 89, had pledged to donate $1.5 million to the university in 2010 as part of the construction of the House of Learning. Court documents filed in 2014 by TRU claimed that the university only received $225,000 towards that pledge.

After a successful business career, Irving K. Barber became a prolific philanthropist and made donations to a number of Canadian universities, including to the University of British Columbia, where Barber made a $20 million donation.

Barber visited TRU a number of times and was involved in the planning and construction of the House of Learning, including his visit on June 17, 2010, when the pledge to donate $1.5 million was publicly announced. In acknowledgment of the donation, TRU would name the assembly hall in the building the Irving K. Barber Centre.

TRU’s vice-president of advancement Christopher Seguin said he could not disclose the information that led to the university dropping the lawsuit, but did say there were lessons learned.

“To all those planning their legacy through wills and arrangements, what we learned through all of this was that donations were best made while one is alive, or through a living trust. That way there are no complications,” Seguin said.