Breaking: Durham University Chancellor to step down


Durham University Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen is to step down after more than a decade in his role. 

Sir Thomas, who began as Durham University’s 12th Chancellor in 2012, succeeding author Bill Bryson, will step down in July 2022 after the summer graduation ceremonies. 

The University did not announce who will succeed Sir Thomas as Chancellor. However, an “international search” is underway for his successor.

In stepping down, Sir Thomas described his 10 years in the role as “glorious” He said:  “Durham has always held a very special place in my heart and it was a tremendous privilege to accept this role in 2011. 

“It has exceeded all expectations. I have particularly found it a special honour to be a part of the University congregations. This is one of the biggest days in the lives of our students and their families who come from all over the world to celebrate graduations in the majestic surroundings of the Cathedral.” 

Sir Thomas is one of Durham’s longest serving Chancellors. His duties with the University have included a ceremonial role at many Congregations. He has also performed alongside students at Durham University concerts, including for Prince Charles in Durham Cathedral.

“Durham has always held a very special place in my heart”

Sir Thomas allen

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Antony Long said:He has given spectacular service to the University and has been an excellent embodiment of our values in all that he has undertaken in the role.

“From presiding at countless graduation ceremonies to taking part in student concerts, including performing alongside our musicians for Prince Charles at Durham Cathedral. It has been a privilege to know and work alongside him.”

Joe Docherty, Chair of Durham University’s governing body, University Council, said: “Sir Thomas has devoted time, passion and commitment to the University over the last decade, across so many fronts.  We will be very sorry to say goodbye to him and we are immensely grateful for his service.”

Sir Thomas was born in Seaham Harbour, in County Durham. He began his career at the Welsh National Opera and has sung in 50 roles at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. 

He has won worldwide acclaim for the many roles he has performed in, including Billy Budd, Pelléas, Eugene Onegin, Ulisse and Beckmesser and for his interpretations of the great Mozart roles, Count Almaviva, Don Alfonso, Papageno, Guglielmo and his signature role, Don Giovanni.

The Chancellor is the Head of the University and the role includes ceremonial, pastoral, scholarly and ambassadorial duties. Previous incumbents include Henry Percy, 7th Duke of Northumberland; the ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn; and actor and filmmaker Sir Peter Ustinov.

Image: Durham University

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