Thompson Rivers University

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Coordinates: 50°40′6.32″N 120°21′56.22″W / 50.6684222°N 120.3656167°W / 50.6684222; -120.3656167

Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University coat of arms.jpg
MottoT7ETSXEMÍNTE RE STSELXMÉM means “to strive ahead” in Secwepemctsín. It indicates that the journey of learning is enduring and unremitting.
Established1970; 51 years ago (1970)
ChancellorNathan Matthew
PresidentDr. Brett Fairbairn
ProvostDr. Donna Murnaghan
Academic staff
over 400 (as of 2019)[1]
Students(as of June 2017)
On campus: 13,443[2]
Distance education: 13,471[2]
Location, ,
Sport TeamsThompson Rivers WolfPack
Colours  TRU Blue
  TRU Sage
NicknameTRU WolfPack
AffiliationsU Sports, AUCC, IAU, CVU, CWUAA, CBIE, CUP, RUCBC.
Thompson Rivers University Logo.svg

Thompson Rivers University (commonly referred to as TRU) is a public teaching and research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and vocational training. Its main campus is in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, and its name comes from the two rivers which converge in Kamloops, the North Thompson and South Thompson. The university has a satellite campus in Williams Lake, BC and a distance education division called TRU-Open Learning. It also has several international partnerships through its TRU World division.

TRU offers 140 on-campus programs and approximately 60 online or distance programs through the Open Learning division, including trades apprenticeships, vocational certificates and diplomas, bachelor's and master's degrees and law.


Kamloops, the largest population centre in the regions now known as the Thompson-Okanagan and Cariboo-Chilcotin, was chosen by the BC provincial government as the site for one of several new two-year regional colleges to provide academic and vocational programs outside the urban centres served by the province's three universities.[3][4] The Province founded Cariboo College in 1970, and classes for 367 full-time and 200 part-time students began in September, 1970, initially out of the Kamloops Indian Residential School facilities.

Cariboo offered two-year academic programs that enabled students to transfer to UBC and the newly established Simon Fraser University (SFU) and University of Victoria (UVic). The college also began vocational training programs to serve the needs of forestry, mining, and other industries in the region. Cariboo's vocational division, now known as the School of Trades and Technology, was established following the move of the college to the new campus under construction on McGill Road in September 1971. In May 1972, BC Premier W.A.C. Bennett officially opened the vocational wing. By provincial mandate, Cariboo amalgamated with the Kamloops Vocational School in 1974, providing training for occupations in demand in Kamloops and the region.[5]

In 1978, Cariboo was officially designated as a College with corporate status under the British Columbia Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act, gaining its own board independent of the school boards that had previously governed it. The Act also created the Open Learning Institute (OLI), which would later become TRU, Open Learning, to provide academic programs and vocational training by distance throughout the province to people that were unable to access post-secondary education due to geographic isolation or other reasons.[6] The following year, the Universities Act gave OLI power to grant baccalaureate degrees in arts or science in its own name.[7]

In the course of 20 years, the college's population increased from 30 faculty serving 367 full-time and 200 part-time students in its first year, to 259 full-time and 124 part-time employees serving 3,047 full-time and 2,205 part-time students in 1990. As enrollment rose, Cariboo built over a dozen new facilities and an on-campus student housing complex, also renovating and expanding older buildings. In 1971, Cariboo opened a satellite campus in Williams Lake, BC, 285 kilometres north of Kamloops, offering programs to surrounding communities, including remote aboriginal populations. In 1985, the Williams Lake campus moved to the 55,000 square-foot Hodgeson Road facility, which would later close due to seismic instability.[5]

In 1989, Cariboo was one of three colleges chosen by the Province to become a new entity, a "university college", in order to provide degrees in regional centres. Cariboo's five bachelor's degrees—Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing—were initially developed and granted under the oversight of the province's three established universities, UBC, SFU and UVic. When the first graduates received their degrees in June 1991, Cariboo was renamed the University College of the Cariboo (UCC).[5][8][9]

In January 1995 the College and Institute Amendment Act gave UCC the authority to independently grant degrees.[10] Several new programs launched that decade, including five more bachelor's degrees and the Adventure Guide Diploma. Construction in the 1990s included a cost-recovery-based joint proposal between UCC and the student society to complete the 53,000 square foot, student-focused Campus Activity Centre, after a change in provincial legislation in 1990 allowed the college to borrow money privately for development.

UCC began to offer master's degree programs in collaboration with UBC and SFU in 2002, gaining the authority to grant applied master's degrees autonomously in 2003.[5] The following year, the BC government announced UCC would become the province's newest university.[11][12]

In March, 2005, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) was incorporated under the Thompson Rivers University Act. The Act amalgamated the University College of the Cariboo with the BC Open University and other aspects of the Open Learning Agency, converting UCC's university council into a senate, and creating a planning council for Open Learning. UCC president Dr. Roger Barnsley continued at the helm of the new institution. The Province designated TRU as a special purpose university which would continue to offer undergraduate and master's degrees, vocational training and adult basic education, undertake research and scholarly activities, and with the addition of Open Learning programs and courses, would provide an open learning educational credit bank for students.[13]

TRU's inaugural convocation was held March 31, 2005, along with the installation of its first chancellor, Nancy Greene Raine. Prime Minister Paul Martin was TRU's first official visitor the following day.[5] The Master of Business Administration, TRU's first autonomous master's degree program, began that September.

The 11-storey TRU Residence and Conference Centre building, a 580-room apartment-style student residence, opened in 2006. In 2007 the current Williams Lake campus opened on Western Avenue, and all Open Learning operations (TRU-OL) relocated from Burnaby to the new BC Centre for Open Learning building on the Kamloops campus.[5]

Dr. Kathleen Scherf was installed as TRU's second president in 2008, but was dismissed by TRU's board of governors in 2009. Roger Barnsley returned to serve two more years as president during the search for Scherf's replacement. Dr. Alan Shaver was installed as TRU's third president in 2011, and the Honourable Wally Oppal was installed as chancellor. Dr. Brett Fairbairn started as TRU's fourth president on Dec. 1, 2018, with installation to take place at convocation in June 2019.

The university gained membership in the Research Universities Council of BC (RUCBC) in 2011.[14] The Brown Family House of Learning, TRU's first LEED Gold-certified building, opened in 2011 and was the initial home of TRU Faculty of Law, the first new law school to open in Canada in over 30 years.[15] TRU Law moved into a 44,000-square-foot space in the newly renovated Old Main building in December 2013. Law's first graduating class convocated in June 2014.

In the 2014-15 academic year, TRU had a total headcount* of 25,748 students, of whom 11,957 were on campus. International students made up 15 percent of TRU's on-campus student population (10 percent overall), with China, India and Saudi Arabia topping the list of over 70 countries of origin. Aboriginal students made up 10.5 percent of the student body. Open Learning students, domestic and international, totalled 11,903 students. (*Due to the fact that some students are dually enrolled in on-campus and Open Learning courses, the total headcount gives the unique total for the entire institution, not a sum of on-campus and Open Learning students.)

By 2017 the university agreed to lease space for a private high school intended to teach Mainland Chinese citizens intending to enter Western university systems.[16]


Thompson Rivers University's Kamloops Campus

TRU's 250-acre main campus in Kamloops is situated on McGill Road in the city's southwest Sahali area, overlooking the junction of the North and South Thompson rivers from which the university takes its name. The campus has 40 acres of gardens and the largest arboretum in BC's interior. Residences provide on-campus housing for 880 students. Kamloops, a small city of 90,280[17] people, is located in the semi-arid grasslands of the Thompson-Nicola region of British Columbia's southwestern interior, on the traditional lands of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) people. TRU has a satellite campus in Williams Lake in BC's Cariboo-Chilcotin region, and regional centres in 100 Mile House, Clearwater, Barriere, Ashcroft, and Lillooet. The Open Learning division reaches students worldwide.

Campus development[edit]

After one year operating out of the school district's various facilities, such as the Kamloops Indian Residential School building, Cariboo College moved to the current campus on McGill Road in September 1971, sharing the newly constructed Main Building with the Kamloops Vocational School. Much of the campus had been part of a Canadian Navy munitions base, and several of the officers' quarters built during that period were put to use and remain as heritage buildings on today's campus.

Construction was a constant on Cariboo's campus to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding student body. The Library and the Gymnasium complex both opened in the fall of 1976. The Science building was completed in 1980, and the Visual Arts building opened the following year, replacing use of the Kamloops Indian Residential School facility. Construction began on student residences in 1988, and Hillside Stadium opened. 1989 saw the completion of the Clock Tower building and Alumni Theatre, and the addition of a second storey on the Main building's B Block for classroom and bookstore space.

As part of Cariboo's application to become a university college in 1989, the first Campus Plan was developed, with the requirement that every building have an official name. Without a single faculty or function to identify it, the eighteen-year-old Main or Main Block building, as the oldest and still most central building on campus, officially became Old Main when Cariboo College became the University College of the Cariboo.

Construction in the 1990s continued with the increasing influx of undergraduate students. UCC doubled the size of both the Library and Science buildings and opened the Computer Access Centre on Victoria Street in 1991, and completed the Arts and Education (A&E) building in two phases from 1991 to 1993. Next door to A&E, the 53,000 square foot Campus Activity Centre, including the campus bookstore, a cafeteria, pub, retail spaces, meeting rooms, and the student union office and coffee shop, opened in 1993 thanks to a cost-recovery-based joint proposal between UCC and the student society, after a change in legislation in 1990 allowed the college to borrow money privately for development.

Also in 1993, UCC opened a new campus daycare facility, the Hillside Stadium track house, the Williams Lake campus extension, a regional centre in Ashcroft, and the Wells Gray Education and Research Centre. The facilities at UCC, next door to the city's new Canada Games Pool, were integral to Kamloops' hosting of the 1993 Canada Summer Games. More regional centres opened in Merritt and Lillooet in 1994, and the Trades and Technology Centre was completed in 1997. The International Building opened in 2002, to house the growing international education department (now the TRU World division).

The Brown Family House of Learning building opened in 2011, housing TRU's second library and a learning commons. It was the first TRU building to be awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status for sustainable construction. Its adjoining theatre-in-the-round, the Irving K. Barber BC Centre, has a ceiling made of beetle-killed pine and a green roof, in a design modelled after an Interior Salish pit house.

The latest renovation and expansion of Old Main, the first building constructed on the Kamloops campus, was completed in 2013. The TRU Faculty of Law moved into the 44,000-square-foot addition that December and officially launched the space to coincide with convocation of its first graduating class in June 2014. The renovation won several awards, including an Honour Award of Excellence for 2014 from the Society of College and University Planning and the American Institute of Architects.

The Industrial Training and Technology Centre (ITTC) opened September 2018 at a cost of $30,000,000. The 5,344-square metre building positions the School of Trades and Technology and Faculty of Science to meeting current student and labour-market demand. There is space designed for new programs on campus, including industrial process technician, power engineering, HVAC/refrigeration technician, and machinist. The two-storey, state-of-the-art centre features classrooms, lab and shop areas, and it connects to the adjacent Trades and Technology building via a covered walkway. As some programs move from the Trades and Technology building to the ITTC, the Faculty of Science's Architectural and Engineering Technology (ARET) program will take their place in renovated spaces, leading to growth opportunities for ARET, including expanding the program to a fourth year. The changes made possible by the new building enable collaboration, applied research and training spanning the sciences and engineering disciplines.[18]

Currently under construction behind the Library is the Nursing and Population Health (NPH) building with an anticipated opening of January 2020. The NPH building will cost a total of $37,200,000 with $8 million coming from the Province of British Columbia funding. The Nursing and Population Health Building is a 4,550-square-metre facility encompassing classrooms, patient simulation labs, interdisciplinary health clinics, home-care space, student lounges and breakout rooms. It will be a hub for health-care teaching and learning. The new space will support collaborative learning for interdisciplinary teams, bringing together students in respiratory therapy, social work and medical residency. The building will foster creativity and innovation, and support research designed to improve health outcomes.

Critical to student success are the building's patient simulation labs. Equipped with advanced technology, high-fidelity simulation mannequins and space similar to that of real health-care settings, these labs will better prepare students for working conditions after graduation.[19]

TRU Community Trust - The Reach[edit]

TRU completed an updated Campus Master Plan in 2013, which set out future development of the Kamloops campus using a "university village" model. Aside from increasing density and enhancing campus life, the university village development will also provide a revenue stream that will raise money for scholarships, bursaries and research. A corporate trustee established in 2011, TRU Community Trust (TRUCT), was created as a way for the development to progress but remain at arm's length from the university, which under current provincial post-secondary risk management policies, cannot directly control the project.

The project is being marketed as The Reach. The goal is to develop 90 acres on campus in six phases with a total build out of 46,600 square feet of retail space, 40,000, square feet of office space and 3,500 residential units.

There are currently two residential projects under construction in the parking lot north of Old Main. Legacy Square by the Kelson Group and Creston House by the Cape Group.


Increasing sustainability is one of TRU's five Strategic Priorities for 2014–2019. The Strategic Sustainability Plan, which also runs 2014 to 2019, was developed based on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System (STARS) by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). TRU was named a STARS Gold institution by AASHE in 2015, and was one of two Canadian universities to qualify as members of the Founders Circle of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, an energy efficiency financing initiative launched by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

Campus environmental sustainability initiatives are principally coordinated by the Office of Environment and Sustainability, which was established in 2009 under inaugural director Dr. Tom Owen. The Kamloops campus underwent an energy audit in 2010, followed by an energy retrofit encompassing 78 percent of the campus building area. TRU partners with provincial utility BC Hydro's Continuous Optimization Program on various energy efficiency programs for campus buildings. Solar hot water heating systems serve Old Main, the Campus Activity Centre and the Culinary Arts Training Centre, and further alternative energy options are being explored. Other initiatives by the Office of Environment and Sustainability include campus-wide composting, zero waste stations, water bottle refill stations, a carpool service, and annual events supporting student and community education. The office also supports sustainability research.

The TRU Sustainability Grant Fund awards grants to improve TRU's operational environmental performance, foster sustainability literacy and campus community engagement, advance applied research, and demonstrate the viability of sustainability technologies, and accepts proposals from TRU students, staff, and faculty.

Governance and academics[edit]

TRU is a public post-secondary institution, funded by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Advanced Education (AVED). As legislated by the province in the Thompson Rivers University Act, the purposes of the university are to offer baccalaureate and master's degree programs, to offer post-secondary and adult basic education and training, to undertake and maintain research and scholarly activities, and to provide an open learning educational credit bank for students. The university must promote teaching excellence and the use of open learning methods. In carrying out its purposes, the university must serve the educational and training needs in the region specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, and the open learning needs of British Columbia.[13]

Governance at TRU is divided into three bodies responsible for corporate and academic decision-making, as legislated by the province in the University Act[20] and the Thompson Rivers University Act. The Board of Governors is responsible for budgetary, operational and administrative matters. The Senate makes decisions on such academic matters as curriculum, credentials, admissions and educational policies. The Planning Council for Open Learning is similarly responsible for academic matters relating to the Open Learning Division. Provincial legislation mandates the composition, powers and duties of each governing body as well as the degree-granting powers of the university. (Canada does not have a federal ministry of education or national accreditation system for post-secondary institutions. Post-secondary education is under provincial, rather than national, jurisdiction.) Individual degree programs are approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education.

The University Act also legislates the leadership of the university, including the powers, duties and offices of the president. The president holds the offices of vice-chancellor, member of the Board of Governors and chair of the Senate. The president and vice-chancellor is the chief executive officer, responsible to the Board and Senate for the supervision of TRU's administrative and academic work. Advising and reporting to the president are the provost and vice-president academic, the vice-president administration and finance, the vice-president advancement, the associate vice-president marketing and communications, and the executive director aboriginal education.

TRU offers 140 on-campus programs, and about 60 distance or online programs through its Open Learning Division, in the following faculties and schools:

  • Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism
  • Faculty of Arts
  • School of Business and Economics
  • Faculty of Education and Social Work
  • Faculty of Law
  • School of Nursing
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Student Development
  • School of Trades and Technology

TRU also has two divisions: Open Learning, offering distance, online and blended learning options to students in all faculties and schools; and TRU World, serving international and study abroad students.

TRU's academic vision is guided by the Academic Plan: Access to Excellence (2011).

Open Learning[edit]

As mandated by provincial legislation in the Thompson Rivers University Act, TRU Open Learning "serves the open learning needs of British Columbia" by providing open, accessible and flexible learning, as well as recognition of learning through an "open learning educational credit bank" for students.

Open Learning's courses and programs are delivered online or via distance with a continuous enrollment schedule and an open admission policy, to ensure all types of learners have an opportunity to complete their education and further their careers. All persons are eligible for general admission to Open Learning and can apply for course registration as well as admission into credential programs. Applicants do not require a specific grade point average (GPA) and are not required to submit transcripts from secondary school to be admitted to TRU-OL and to register in courses.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facts and Figures". Thompson Rivers University. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Facts and Figures of Thompson Rivers University". Thompson Rivers University. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017.
  3. ^ John D. Dennison, Professor Emeritus of Higher Education, The University of British Columbia (June 1996). "Higher Education in British Columbia: 1945-1995, Opportunity and Diversity". Archived from the original on April 14, 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Macdonald, John B. (1962). "Higher Education in British Columbia and a Plan for the Future" (PDF). University of British Columbia. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Striving Ahead: 25 Years At Cariboo
  6. ^ British Columbia Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act, 1977, Government of British Columbia, Queen's Printer.
  7. ^ Moran, L. (1991) Legitimation of Distance Education: A Social History of the Open Learning Institute of British Columbia, 1978-1988. Doctoral Dissertation, University of British Columbia, Pg 19
  8. ^ Made In B.C.: A History of Postsecondary Education in British Columbia, Bob Cowin, Douglas College, November 2007,[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ British Columbia Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act, 1977
  10. ^ "College and Institute Amendment Act, 1994". Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  11. ^ "UCC to become B.C.'s newest university". March 19, 2004.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Two universities slated for B.C. Interior to boost access". University Affairs. April 12, 2004. Archived from the original on April 12, 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Thompson Rivers University Act". Government of British Columbia. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  14. ^ Petruk, Tim (October 5, 2011). "TRU joins prestigious provincial research council". Kamloops This Week. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016.
  15. ^ "Canada's Newest Law School". University Affairs. March 5, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  16. ^ Quan, Douglas (2017-04-09). "Some B.C. universities leasing spaces on their campuses to private Chinese high schools to boost revenue". National Post. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  17. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2017-02-08). "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Kamloops, City [Census subdivision], British Columbia and British Columbia [Province]". Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  18. ^, Thompson Rivers University. "Industrial Training and Technology Centre: Capital Projects". Thompson Rivers University. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  19. ^, Thompson Rivers University. "Nursing and Population Health Building: Capital Projects". Thompson Rivers University. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  20. ^ "University Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 468". Government of British Columbia. Retrieved April 16, 2019.

External links[edit]