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New Chancellor appointment

View of Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral and Framwellgate Bridge across the river

Following an inclusive process involving all of our community, Dr Fiona Hill has been confirmed as our next Chancellor and will be officially installed at a ceremony in Durham Cathedral in summer 2023.  

Many thanks for your interest and to all those involved in this process. 

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Role description for the Chancellor

Durham University is a historic institution with modern values. Our Chancellor is the ceremonial Head of the University and their public profile both represents and reflects the values of the University.

This Honorary position has been held in the recent past by Dame Margot Fonteyn, Sir Peter Ustinov, Bill Bryson OBE and Sir Thomas Allen. 

The key responsibilities of the Chancellor:
  • preside over the University's degree congregations (degree ceremonies)
  • help the University to promote its achievements and to enhance its profile regionally, nationally and internationally
  • host or participate in a number of the University's activities with students, staff, alumni and other stakeholders
The Chancellor should have the following characteristics:
  • Has demonstrated excellence and achieved outstanding distinction in their field, inspiring an enduring respect from a broad range of stakeholders, with a distinguished name and qualities immediately recognisable and with whom the University, the City and the Region can feel proud to identify
  • Shows genuine affection for and interest in people from all walks of life, coupled with a warm personality and ability to engage effectively with a wide range of different stakeholder groups
  • Embraces the University's values and mission and, in particular, recognises the importance of higher education, learning and research 
  • Has public presence for ceremonial and other events and a proficiency in public speaking
  • Does not currently participate in politics or can be perceived as being too overtly political
  • Willing to support enthusiastically the University in its philanthrophic, alumni relations and external partnership activities

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The selection process

  • The establishment of a Joint Committee of Council and Senate to steer the search and appointment process and carry out an appropriate process of due diligence on a shortlist of candidates
  • Review of the Chancellor role description and person specification, nominations process, selection criteria for shortlisting candidates and proposed timescale
  • Nominations open for the wider University community (including lay members of Council, current students and staff, retired staff and alumni) to put forward the names of individuals who meet the person specification to be the new Chancellor
  • Review of nominations received and longlisting of candidates by the Joint Committee
  • Final prioritisation of nominations, shortlisting of candidates and due diligence undertaken by the Joint Committee
  • Joint Committee make a recommendation for the appointment of a Chancellor to a joint meeting of Senate and Council for onward transmission to a special meeting of Convocation
  • Convocation appoint a Chancellor on the nomination of the Council and the Senate sitting in joint session.

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The Search Committee

Under the current Statutes, the appointment of the Chancellor is made by Convocation on the nomination of the Council and the Senate sitting in joint session.  In accordance with previous practice, Council and Senate have appointed a Joint Committee to steer the search and appointment process for the new Chancellor and recommend the nomination to go forward.

The membership of the Joint Council and Senate Committee is as follows:

Council Members:

  • Joe Docherty (Chair of Council)
  • Alison Hastings (Lay Member of Council)
  • Dr Liadi Mudashiru (Staff Member of Council)
  • Seun Twins (President of Durham Students’ Union).

Senate Members:

  • Professor Karen O’Brien (Vice-Chancellor and Warden)   
  • Professor John Parker (Academic Head of Department), Department of Mathematical Sciences
  • Professor Simon Forrest (Head of College), Principal of the College of St Hild and St Bede
  • Professor Jun Jie Wu (AEA Standing Committee Member), Deputy Executive Dean of Science Faculty (Postgraduate).

In attendance:

  • Alison Blackburn (Interim University Secretary)
  • Lucian Hudson (Director of Advancement, Marketing and Communications)
  • Jeremy Diaper (Senior Governance Officer).