B.C. college quietly retracts job offer to new dean

A college in B.C.'s Interior is doing an about-face on the man who would have been its new dean of trades.

Selkirk College's Silver King campus in Nelson, B.C. is one of the oldest trade schools in the province. It's currently undergoing a nearly $20 million renovation.

On March 7, Selkirk College announced it had hired a new dean, Will McKay, to guide it through these changes.

Then, within a matter of days, it quietly retracted its offer to McKay.

In an email to staff announcing the new hire, Neil Coburn, the college's vice president of education originally described McKay as an expert in post-secondary education with more than two dozen years of experience in adult education in both the private and public sector.

He listed McKay's experience at Thomson Rivers University in Kamloops, the College of the Rockies in the Kootenays and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in Merritt.

Coburn said McKay had been working recently in the private sector recently but returning to a "public, post-secondary institution felt like coming home."

But a simple online search, and a search of B.C.'s electronic court registry, reveals another detail — Andrew William McKay, formerly of Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, had pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in 2015.

Both TRU and Selkirk College have confirmed Will McKay and Andrew William McKay are the same person.

2015 guilty plea

At the sentencing hearing, the court heard that in 2014 a backlogged printer at McKay's workplace at TRU printed out an image of a half-naked teenager to his co-worker.

The girl was believed to be 12 or 13 years old. McKay was the senior manager and after he was made aware of the photograph, he reportedly insisted it be shredded.

Instead, the photograph was taken to TRU's IT department where it was traced back to McKay's own work computer.

Investigators found two other similar images on McKay's work computer as well as a secure delete program that makes images hard to trace back to a specific computer.

McKay admitted to possessing the pornography and was fired.

He was charged, pleaded guilty and was convicted of possession of child pornography and sentenced to three months in jail. McKay was also compelled to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Due diligence when hiring

Selkirk College hired McKay last week, but won't confirm to CBC News about why he won't be taking up the new position.

"Last week, Selkirk College made an offer of employment to an individual. That offer has since been retracted. In the interests of privacy, Selkirk College will have no further comment on this matter," a spokesperson said in an email.

While the college's administration will not talk about the hiring, some senior staff at the college questioned how someone with a criminal record on a sex offender registry could get hired for a job at a public post-secondary school. 

Even though the college was able to retract the offer to McKay before he started, some staff further questioned whether a background check was completed before the college made its announcement.

McKay and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

With files from Bob Keating