Chair of Creative Writing program suspended pending investigation into “serious allegations”

Associate Professor Steven Galloway has been suspended with pay from his position in UBC’s Creative Writing program, following “serious allegations” and a pending investigation.

It is unknown what the allegations are against Galloway, how many there currently are or what the timeline of the investigation will be.

“This is never an easy or enjoyable task, but sometimes we need to – in terms of the leadership issue – make the change in order to allow everything else to go forward,” said Gage Averill, dean of the Faculty of Arts, in an interview with The Ubyssey. “Having come forward, we thought it was the best route forward for everyone to separate [Galloway] from his current duties and allow the investigation to go forward.”

According to the Globe and Mail, Galloway learned of the allegations on Tuesday and is unsure what exactly they entail, saying that the faculty association has advised him not to comment.

Averill could not comment on what the allegations are or how many there are, citing concerns of privacy for parties involved as well as the potential for further allegations to come to light. He himself is currently unaware of many of the specifics.

“It’s not that I want to obfuscate on these issues or not be fully transparent, but because of the nature of it and the investigation, it’s safest and best for all parties if I don’t weigh in on allegations," he said.

However he could confirm that the allegations are of a serious nature.

“[The allegations] were concerning enough that I wanted to move quickly on this,” said Averill. “I certainly felt comfortable with what I knew making a determination. But … there may be more to understand about this situation, so we’re going to do our very best to understand the full picture.”

Averill confirmed that Galloway has not been made aware of the full extent of these allegations, due to the same concerns for privacy. Averill noted that Galloway will have ample opportunity to defend himself.

Averill first heard of the allegations on Sunday. He stated that the faculty has since moved quickly to remove Galloway from his position as chair of the Creative Writing program, in order for an external investigation to take place.

“The University is committed to handling the investigation in the most expeditious way for the benefit of all involved,” said a press release on the Creative Writing website. Averill reinforced this commitment, stating that he doesn’t “want this hanging any longer than it has to hang.”

“I can promise you we’ll move quickly to release a report after the investigation has concluded,” he said.

The program cited Article 10.02 of the Collective Agreement between the university and faculty, which states that a suspension of this kind may not last for more than 60 days.

The same release asks the public to “keep in mind that the investigation has not yet commenced and no findings have been made about any wrongdoing by Prof. Galloway.”

Galloway could not be reached for comment at this time.

Associate Professor Annabel Lyon and Professor Linda Svendsen are serving as Acting Co-Chairs of the program for the time being. Neither could be reached for comment at this time, forwarding requests for comment to the dean of Arts.