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Who Are We?

The Provost Office consists of eight members of staff:

We also work closely with a number of Professional Support Staff Teams to meet our objectives, these include:

Many of the key policies that underpin our work can be found through these links.

The Provost Office strives to make a difference through our academic community locally, nationally and globally. And, the Durham University Strategy 2017-2027 sets out how we propose to do this.

Professor Antony Long wearing a suit, standing in front of greeneryProfessor Antony Long - Acting Vice-Chancellor


The Deputy Vice-Chancellor is responsible for supporting the Vice-Chancellor in delivering the University's Academic Strategy, including a step-change in the University's performance in the areas of equity and inclusion. As Provost, he has particular responsibility for work around the Faculty and is responsible for the University's Strategic Planning Office.

Professional background and expertise

Antony took up his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Durham University in November 2016, having previously served in a number of senior leadership positions at Durham.

He chaired the University's Accommodation and Estates Programme Board and the Queen's Campus Transition Group and has twice served as Head of the Department of Geography.

Antony has also served as an academic member of the University Council and member of the University Finance and General Purposes Committee, during which time he was a member of the University Council and Senate Governance Review Board. He has also served as Chair of the College of St Hild and St Bede Council.

Antony's research expertise is in past and future sea-level change, a topic on which he has published extensively.

He has served as Editor of the Quaternary Science Reviews and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Quaternary Science.

Education and qualifications

Antony holds an undergraduate degree and a PhD in Geography from Durham University.

Professor Simon Hackett wearing a suit, standing in front of greeneryProfessor Simon Hackett - Acting Provost


The Deputy Provost supports the Provost in the delivery of the University's Academic Strategy. Simon's remit includes recruitment, progression and promotion of academic staff, departmental and college planning, and equality, diversity and inclusion across the University.

Professional background and expertise

Simon took up the role of Deputy Provost in January 2019, having been Principal of St Mary's College since September 2011. Prior to this, Simon was Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences and then Deputy Head (Research) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health at Durham.

Simon has undertaken a wide range of cross-University roles including being Vice-Chair of Durham's Ethics Advisory Committee, Chair of the University's Safeguarding Operations Group, member of the Sexual Violence Management and Operations Group and member of Senate Discipline Committee. Simon was also one of two Senate elected members of the joint Council and Senate Governance Review Board.

Simon's academic position at Durham is as Professor of Child Abuse and Neglect and his research relates largely to interpersonal violence and child maltreatment in its various forms. He is known internationally in the field of research into sexual offending and, specifically, in relation to children with harmful sexual behaviours.

Education and qualifications

Simon holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Hull, an MA in Social Policy and Social Work from the University of Manchester and a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Hull.

Professor Alan HoustonProfessor Alan Houston


The Vice-Provost (Education) is responsible for the delivery of the University's Education Strategy, which aims to deliver a premium educational experience for all students that meets diverse needs and ensures future success.

Professional background and expertise

Alan joined Durham University in January 2017 from the University of California, San Diego, USA, where he most recently served as Senior Director, International Initiatives. He previously served as Director, Academic Strategic Initiatives; Interim Vice-Chancellor, Student Affairs; Provost of Eleanor Roosevelt College and Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science.

Alan is an award-winning historian of political thought, specialising in early-modern Britain and America.

Education and qualifications

Alan holds an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Political Philosophy from Oberlin College, Ohio, and a Master's degree and a PhD in Government from Harvard University.

Professor Colin BainProfessor Colin Bain


The Vice-Provost (Research) is responsible for the delivery of the University's Research and Engagement Strategy and for supporting our academic and research staff and students to deliver internationally leading research and impact.

Professional background and expertise

Colin joined the Chemistry Department at Durham in 2005 from Oxford University. He has held a number of leadership roles at Durham including Director (Science) of the Institute of Advanced Study and Dean and Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). He is currently Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter for Formulation and Industrial Innovation (SOFI2).

Colin's research is in the area of colloid and interface science and crosses the boundaries between chemistry, physics, biology and engineering. Awards for his research include the Craig Lectureship from the Australian National University, the Founder's Lecture at the National Chemical Laboratory in India, the Tilden Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the 2020 Sir Eric Rideal Award for lifetime contributions to colloid and interface science.

Education and qualifications

Colin received a BA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University. He then returned to the UK as a Royal Society research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge before moving to a Lectureship at Magdalen College, Oxford University.

Mrs Catherine SummersMrs Catherine Summers

Executive Assistant to Professor Long and Professor Hackett.

Catherine provides valuable Executive support in the Provost Office. She assists in the delivery of professional services and is the first point of contact for Professors Long and Hackett.

Her role involves the management of diary and administrative services and liaison with internal departments and external stakeholders. She provides advice and guidance on wider Provost Office issues and is a key member of the Executive support team. 

Professional background and expertise

Catherine took up her role as Executive Assistant in The Provost Office in November 2016 supporting the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost and the Deputy Provost.

Prior to this, she supported the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dean for Internationalisation and Dean for Education from 2013.

She commenced her career with Durham University in 1985 and provided professional support services in various University Departments and Colleges until 1993 when she took time out of her professional career to raise her family.

Before returning to the University in 2013, she developed her career and spent 15 years in Primary Education teaching children with Special Educational Needs.

Catherine holds numerous secretarial and teaching qualifications and has led personal development programmes on a voluntary basis.

Catherine can be contacted on +44 (0)191 334 6050 or

Miss Natalie Harden

Administrative Assistant and Diary Secretary to Professor Hackett.

Natalie took up her role as an Administrative Assistant in May 2021, supporting the Deputy Provost with diary management and the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost with general office duties.

Professional background and expertise

She is at the beginning of her career, having joined Durham University in December 2016 after studying History at Northumbria University. She first worked at Bill Bryson Library before moving to Palace Green Library as a Visitor Services Assistant.

Natalie can be contacted on +44 (0)191 334 6056 or

Ms Karen Dobson

Executive Assistant to Professor Houston, Vice-Provost (Education) and Dr Fawcett, Deputy Vice-Provost (Education).

Karen supports Professor Alan Houston and Dr Tony Fawcett in the delivery of the University's Education Strategy. The main aspects of Karen's role involve diary management and monitoring incoming correspondence. As well as liaising with internal and external contacts to arrange key meetings, workshops and events that enable the strategic objectives for the Education remit to be delivered.

Professional background and expertise

Karen took up her role as Executive Assistant in February 2020 supporting Vice-Provost Education and Deputy Vice-Provost Education.

Karen can be contacted on +44 (0)191 334 6086 or

Mrs Dianne KirkbyMrs Dianne Kirkby

Executive Assistant to Professor Colin Bain, Vice-Provost (Research) and Professor Louise Bracken, Deputy Vice-Provost (Research).

Di Kirkby provides support to Professor Colin Bain and Professor Louise Bracken in their delivery of the Research & Engagement Strategy. The role involves liaising with internal colleagues within academic departments, research institutes and professional support services, especially the Research & Innovation Service. In addition, Dianne liaises with external stakeholders in the N8 Research Partnership, the Russell Group and Research Councils.

Professional background and expertise

Di joined the Pro-Vice-Chancellor's office in 2004 and over the last 15 years has supported six former Pro-Vice-Chancellors and the Dean for Research.

In the last few years, Di has been involved in a number of projects/reviews and has recently provided administrative support to the Russell Group Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Research Group meetings of which the Durham PVC (Research) was Chair.

Prior to joining Durham University, Di gained experience and qualifications over more than 30 years working with senior management teams within a number of private companies and Surrey Council.

Di can be contacted on +44 (0)191 3346044 or