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Durham University officially welcomes Dr Fiona Hill as 13th Chancellor


Durham University has officially welcomed acclaimed foreign affairs expert Dr Fiona Hill as its 13th Chancellor, in a historic ceremony at Durham Cathedral today. 

The role of Chancellor is ceremonial and ambassadorial. 

The ceremony was attended by dignitaries, community members and representatives from local schools and colleges.

Outgoing Chancellor, opera singerSir Thomas Allen, took part in the ceremony to welcome his successor. 

Dr Hill grew up in Bishop Auckland in County Durham andis an authority on Russian and European geopolitics. In her career she has advised US presidents including President Obama and President Trump. 

She has spoken of having a thirst for learning from an early age and is passionate about social mobility and giving back to the community. 

Dr Hill said:

“I am very proud to be from the North East of England and deeply honoured to take on the role of Durham University Chancellor. 

“My life has literally taken me from coal-house to the White House. 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.” 

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

Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University, 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.”

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.

PreviousChancellors of Durham University, which was founded in 1832, include author Bill Bryson, actor, film maker and writer Sir Peter Ustinov and ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn.

Dr Hill’s installation comes days after Durham University rose to 78th place in the QS World University Rankings 2024, further confirming its status as a UK- and world-leading university. 

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