Antony Long introduces himself as Acting Vice-Chancellor and provides an update on Michaelmas term as teaching begins.
Regular readers of this column may have spotted there’s a new face at the top. My name’s Antony Long and, following Stuart Corbridge’s retirement, I’m Acting Vice-Chancellor of Durham University – a post I’ll hold until Prof Karen O’Brien joins us as our new Vice-Chancellor in January.
It’s a huge privilege for me to lead the University for this period and I look forward to working with many of you, both in the next few months and beyond that as I return to my role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost.
I’ve spent much of my adult life in Durham – I was an undergraduate here in the ’80s, did my PhD here and have spent much of my academic life here too.
The reason? I love Durham. Of course, much has changed about the City, and the North-East, since I arrived here nearly 40 years ago. But it remains the inspiring place I first encountered and that has kept me here.
Indeed, even more so: as we work together better with our local communities; take a greater role in driving forward our region’s economic, cultural, social and environmental development; diversify our student intake, welcoming students of all backgrounds with the merit and potential to succeed; and address global challenges through our world-leading research.
I’m passionate about making Durham University truly Durham’s University. As we return to more in-person events, I would encourage and invite you to explore what’s happening here that you might be part of. Perhaps it’s sport at Maiden Castle, or theatre at the Assembly Rooms. Perhaps it’s our fantastic museums and attractions, or our outreach to schools and young people. Maybe you could join one our College communities as a mentor – I know our students are very grateful for the different experiences and perspectives this system offers to them.
If you’d like to know more, I’d highly recommend our Community Newsletter – a monthly round-up of community-focused activities and opportunities, delivered direct to your inbox. Go to www.durham.ac.uk/community to join the mailing list.
We’re now into week two of our teaching for autumn term. Most of our students have chosen to be with us here in Durham and we’re operating a ‘blended’ model of both in-person and remote teaching, learning and extra-curricular events.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and the wider community remains our top priority. We sent clear messages to students before term began around vaccination, safe travel and quarantine arrangements, and we’ve since run walk-in vaccination clinics. We’re requiring staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings on campus if possible, and continuing to work very closely with local partners including Public Health. For the latest information, please visit www.durham.ac.uk/coronavirus.
More broadly, we’ve made it clear to our students that we expect them to be positive citizens, of the University and wider community. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to address our new undergraduates at Matriculation, our formal welcoming ceremony – this year held not in the Cathedral but in a marquee on the Racecourse. And I used that opportunity to urge our new arrivals to help build a tolerant, inclusive University; a University that values and supports the wider community. I look forward to working with you towards this goal that, I hope, we can all share.