VANCOUVER -- A director at the University of British Columbia who faced backlash after travelling over the winter break has resigned from his leadership role.

Dr. Peter Berman announced Friday that he's stepping down as head of the School of Population and Public Health, citing "conditions of distress and division currently prevailing" in the department.

"I deeply regret any actions of mine that may have caused this situation," Berman wrote in a statement published to the UBC website.

"I am grateful to the many of you who have shared messages of support to me directly or to others in our community and faculty. I also respect the many different views expressed by those in our wider community."

Berman, who will remain a member of the UBC faculty, ended his statement by urging the community to come together and support the staff and leadership at the school.

UBC spokesperson Matthew Ramsey said the process of appointing an interim director will begin as soon as possible.

In an email, Ramsey noted that Berman, who was appointed in January 2019, helped establish an "international network of senior policy makers and researchers focusing on institutional and governmental responses to COVID-19" during the pandemic.

"Dr. Berman’s work has advanced the vision and strategic direction of SPPH and the university thanks him for his achievements in that role," Ramsey said.

The university previously confirmed that some administrators, faculty and staff may have travelled over the holidays.

While travelling for non-essential reasons isn't illegal, provincial and federal health officials have strongly advised against it for the time being.