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An historic celebration to welcome our new Chancellor

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We celebrated the installation of our 13th Chancellor, Dr Fiona Hill, on Thursday 29 June in the beautiful setting of Durham Cathedral. 

The ceremony, which was opened by our Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Professor Karen O’Brien, was attended by University staff, students, alumni and supporters, together with representatives from local schools and colleges. 

The outgoing Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen, also took part in the ceremony to welcome his successor.  

The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of Durham University. The role will see Fiona act as a global ambassador for the University, as well as presiding over key events. 

Dr Fiona Hill
Dr Fiona Hill

Fiona is the daughter of a coal miner who grew up in Bishop Auckland. Throughout her career she has become an authority on Russian and European geopolitics and has provided advice to US presidents including Barack Obama. From an early age she had a thirst for learning and is very passionate about education, social mobility and giving back to the community. 

Fiona said: 


I am very proud to be from the North East and it is an immense honour to take on the role of Durham University Chancellor.

‘’For me education is the beating heart of opportunity and with it, anything is possible.   

“I hope that as Chancellor, I can inspire and empower young people from all walks of life to fulfil their potential.” 

Fiona is and will remain a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe, in the Foreign Policy programme at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington DC. 

Inspirational Chancellor 

Professor O’Brien applauded Fiona’s pride in her County Durham roots and her respected career as foreign policy advisor to world leaders, as well as her commitment to knowledge and learning for all members of society.  

Dr Fiona Hill our new Chancellor and Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden
Dr Fiona Hill our new Chancellor and Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden

She said: “Dr Fiona Hill has built an outstanding career in foreign policy whilst retaining a pride in her family upbringing and the values instilled in her as she grew up in County Durham.  

“We hugely value her commitment to education for all and her complete belief in the transformational power of education – a belief that is central to the values of Durham University."

Fiona will be an inspirational Chancellor, leading by example and supporting others through her contact with our community.

Welcome to our Durham community, Fiona.  



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