Dr. Brett Fairbairn was appointed provost and vice-president academic at the University of Saskatchewan effective July 1, 2008. As provost, Dr. Fairbairn is the leader of planning and budgeting; as the vice-president academic, he leads the university’s faculty and academic processes.
Brett has been engaged with the University of Saskatchewan for 35 years, beginning as a history student, during which time he served as president of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union. After earning a BA in history in 1981, Brett continued his post-secondary education abroad. Oxford University awarded him a BA Honours in modern history in 1984 and a DPhil, also in modern history, in 1988. During this time, he joined the University of Saskatchewan as a faculty member in the Department of History and the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.
Brett possesses an exceptional level of familiarity with the University of Saskatchewan, gained from various perspectives over the years. He is a seasoned leader, having served as the director of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, head of the Department of History, chair of university council, and as chair, vice-chair, and member of the planning committee of university council.
Brett is a Rhodes Scholar with a stellar academic career. His research and teaching are concerned with the history and interdisciplinary study of democracy, social movements, and co‑operative enterprises in Canada and around the world. He has more than 80 publications, including his two most recent books, Co-operative Membership and Globalization (co-edited with Nora Russell) and Living the Dream: Membership and Marketing in the Co-operative Retailing System. Brett models his scholarship on the idea of engagement between the academic world and the real-life issues of organizations and communities. He is a strong believer in the duty of citizens to participate in volunteer organizations and has held many leadership roles in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. In recognition of his public and scholarly contributions, Brett was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal by the lieutenant governor of Saskatchewan in 2002.
From 2002 to 2007, Brett was principal investigator of the largest research project ever undertaken on co-operatives in Canada. Based on the results from that project, he is working on a new, co-authored book entitled Imagination and Cohesion: Co-operative Renewal in Canadian Communities. His current and future research concerns governance and innovation in social enterprises.
A native of Winnipeg and the son of journalists, Brett grew up in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He and his wife, Norma, have three children.