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portrait of Jolyon Mitchell next to a bush

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Jolyon Mitchell as our new Principal. Professor Mitchell, who is currently at New College, University of Edinburgh, will take up the role as head of St John’s on 1 September 2023.

A St John’s College Council appointment 

The appointing panel for a new Principal of St John’s College was unanimous in its choice of a new Principal, and this was approved unanimously by University Council. 

Welcoming the appointment of Professor Mitchell, the President of St John’s College Council, the Right Reverend Dr Robert Innes, the Bishop of Europe, said:The appointing committee was very aware of its responsibilities towards the College in discerning a worthy successor to David Wilkinson. We conducted our work thoroughly, carefully and prayerfully.  

“In Professor Jolyon Mitchell we believe we have found a new Principal who is exceptionally gifted, who has a wide range of sympathies and interests, and who will be an energetic, kind and determined leader.  

“I know that Jolyon will build strong relationships with students, support and academic staff and College officers. I look forward with confidence and excitement to seeing how St John’s College will continue to develop and flourish as it enters a new era with Jolyon as its Principal.” 

 A St John’s and Durham graduate  

Jolyon is currently a Professor at the University of Edinburgh where he specialises in religion, violence and peacebuilding and is Director of CTPI (the Centre for Theology and Public Issues).  

A former producer and journalist with BBC World service, he is the author and editor of over a dozen books. Educated at the Universities of Cambridge (Selwyn College), Durham (St John’s College), and Edinburgh, he is ordained in the Scottish Episcopal Church (having trained at Cranmer Hall), and a former President of TRS-UK (2012-2018 – the national association for Theology and Religious Studies in the UK).  

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. He directs a number of projects on peacebuilding, including ones which led to Peacebuilding and the Arts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Peace (2022).  

He has worked with Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, as well as Palestinian and Israeli journalists, on peacebuilding projects in Jerusalem and the West Bank.  

Jolyon has served on international film juries at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals. A former marathon runner and keen cricketer, he enjoys teaching and supervising students from all over the world.  

He comments, “I’m honoured to be taking on this new role and I’m hugely looking forward to working with the students and staff at St John’s, building on the College’s outstanding legacy and unique community. I am also looking forward to working with the world leading Department of Theology and Religion in Durham.” 

A new chapter of St John’s College 

Dr Rebecca Bouveng, Vice Principal of St John’s College, added: “I am absolutely delighted with the appointment of Professor Jolyon Mitchell as new Principal, and look forward to working with him in this new chapter of St John’s.  

“His media and communications expertise will be incredibly valuable for the College’s advancement and strategic communications, and his experience working with Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith groups will enrich our commitment to interfaith engagement and building a diverse and inclusive community.”