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New Vice-Chancellor takes up post at Durham University

Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University

Professor Karen O’Brien has today (Tuesday 4 January) taken up her post as the new Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University (@durham_uni).

Professor O’Brien joins Durham from the University of Oxford, where she led the Humanities Division for five years.

Prior to joining Oxford, she was Vice-Principal (Education) at King’s College London. She has held a number of national and international leadership roles, including serving on the international jury of the Institut Universitaire de France and as chair of the Russell Group Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Teaching and Learning.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse, University of Cambridge and of St Cross College, University of Oxford, she has published widely on the literature and intellectual history of the Enlightenment.

Professor O’Brien becomes the 25th Vice-Chancellor in Durham University’s near-200-year history. She succeeds Professor Antony Long, who served as Acting Vice-Chancellor from August 2021 following the retirement of Professor Stuart Corbridge.

Professor Long now returns to his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost.

Professor O’Brien said: “I am excited to begin work at Durham University. I will endeavour to enhance our strengths as a leading University renowned for the excellence and impact of its research, the quality of its education and student support, and the richness of its student experience.

“I aim to build on our partnerships to increase the social benefit that Durham brings to the region, the UK and the world.

“I am very mindful of the challenges and pressures that our staff and students are currently facing in so many areas, and of the need for support and resilience as we work towards better times.

“I look forward to consulting and working with our staff, students, alumni and friends as we take our great University forward towards its 200th anniversary in 2032 as a global community of learning.”

Joe Docherty, chair of Durham University’s governing Council, said: “Professor O’Brien is an exceptional leader with a distinguished track-record in the University sector. Her depth and breadth of understanding and forward thinking will help her to lead Durham University to even greater success.”

He added: “We are deeply grateful to Professor Antony Long for serving as Acting Vice-Chancellor and Warden since August 2021 and I would like to thank him for his outstanding work.”

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