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Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, stood smiling with arms folded, in front of bookshelves

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O'Brien, reflects on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as sharing some upcoming opportunities in and around Durham.

Friday 24 February is the first anniversary of the Russian attack against Ukraine. This act of aggression shocked the world, and as an international community of learning, we at Durham University condemn the invasion.  

In the past year we have done much to respond, from student-led vigils and fundraising activities through to sharing relevant academic expertise. We are proud to be twinned with Zaporizhzhia National University in eastern Ukraine, through which we are supporting Ukrainian students and scholars.  

We have hosted a highly successful Ukraine Talk Series, led by Dr Markian Prokopovych, a Ukrainian-born specialist in Eastern and Central European History, from our History Department. The next in this series will be at the Gala Theatre, Durham, and on Thursday 2nd March and will explore issues facing Ukrainian refugees. Tickets are available from the Gala 

We stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian colleagues and friends on this sad anniversary. 

Global reach and impact

Our support for Ukraine is one example of Durham University’s global reach and impact. We have over 120 nationalities among our staff and students, connections all over the world, and our research is tackling some of the major global challenges facing society today.  

This week (February 20-27), some of my colleagues are in India, where we have recently opened our first office, have many active research collaborations, and a growing number of alumni. Such connections raise the profile not only of Durham University, but of Durham City and County, and the North East as a whole.  

In March, and for the first time, we’re celebrating these international connections, and the multicultural diversity of our community, with a Durham Global Week (March 4-11). There will be a huge range of events open to all, including food, performance, discussion, theatre, literature and more. We would love you to join in. Find out more here.

Sports, learning and theatre

It's half-term week for many local schools, and it has been a pleasure to see our Team Durham Sports Camps return. These offer superb sessions for children during the school holidays, and will be back next at Easter. Search here for details.   

I’m delighted to share that Durham University’s Day Nursery has been rated as Outstanding by Ofsted. We’re proud to have offered this service for over 30 years now and my congratulations go to all staff and children. See our website for more information. 

And finally, well done to everyone who was involved in the recent Durham University Light Opera Group production of Hello Dolly at the Gala Theatre. It was a joyous and superb collaboration of student producers, musical theatre performers, choreographers, technicians and musicians. If you missed it, take a look at for upcoming shows.