British Columbia

Steven Galloway, chair of UBC creative writing program, suspended over 'serious allegations'

Giller prize-nominated author Steven Galloway has been suspended with pay from his post as the chair of UBC's creative writing program pending an investigation of "serious allegations," according to a memo from the university.

Vancouver novelist is acclaimed author of The Cellist of Sarajevo

Steven Galloway has been temporarily removed from his post as chair of UBC's creative writing program, pending an investigation. He is best known for his international bestseller The Cellist of Sarajevo, (Frances Raud)

Giller prize-nominated author Steven Galloway has been suspended with pay from his post as the chair of the University of British Columbia's creative writing program pending an investigation of "serious allegations," according to a memo from the university's dean of arts.

The memo did not  detail the allegations against Galloway, an associate professor who lives in New Westminster, B.C.

"Please keep in mind that the investigation has not yet commenced and no findings have been made about any wrongdoing by Prof. Galloway," wrote Gage Averill.

Averill learned about the allegations Sunday afternoon from professors in the program, and the university has spent the last few days deciding how to respond before notifying students, he told CBC News.

"We mentioned this to the students this morning. It's a difficult time for a program like this."

The memo was sent to faculty, students and staff of the creative writing program.

"Our priority is attending to the safety, health and well-being of all members of our community," wrote Averill.

"If you ever have information that is concerning to your safety and well-being, we encourage you to seek the support available through Counselling Services and your program as well as the Dean's Office."

Under the terms of the UBC faculty's collective agreement, the university's president can suspend a faculty member with pay for up to 60 days pending the outcome of an investigation.

The investigation will be conducted at "arm's length" from the creative writing program, but within the university, said Averill. He said the RCMP were not involved.

Ismail Askin, a fourth-year UBC student who took a class with Galloway, said he was "shocked" to hear the news.

"He's definitely a great prof. Everything he explains, he does it in a way that helps you understand what he's saying pretty clearly," said Askin.

"More than that, it's easy to pay attention to him because he's such a funny man."

When CBC News called Galloway's cellphone, the woman who answered declined to comment.

Galloway is best known for his international bestseller The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was longlisted for the Giller Prize in 2008. He is also the author of Finnie Walsh, Ascension, and The Confabulist, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize.

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