Students stage a carnival-flavoured welcome for Chancellor Bill Bryson
(7 November 2005)
Durham University students, led by their Union President, cheerleaders and a menagerie of college animals gave their new Chancellor Bill Bryson a resounding welcome for his inaugural visit to the University.
Chancellor Bryson, appointed in April, is making his first tour of duty during the student term and arrives at Durham railway station on Sunday afternoon to be greeted by musicians (Grey College Band), some students dressed in the animal mascot costumes of their colleges, the Collingwood College cheerleaders and other student representatives including Durham Students’ Union President Nick Pickles. Nick Pickles said: “We felt it was important to give Bill a genuine student welcome, and nothing adds a touch of character like a six foot high DUCK, the mascot of our charity group. It is a rare pleasure to be able to welcome a new chancellor to the university, and I hope Dr Bryson will be as happy to be here as we are to have him.” Vice-Chancellor Sir Kenneth Calman said: “Our new Chancellor conferred degrees on our departing graduates in the summer, but this is his first chance to meet our students in the working term and get a proper insight into university life. It is his induction week. He was a hugely popular choice as Chancellor and this is the students’ chance to show it. “ Students last welcomed a new Chancellor at Durham railway station in 1950 when they greeted the influential historian G M Trevelyan with a reading from a scroll. Pictures of the occasion show male students wearing suits and ties, and the women in skirts, jumpers and sensible shoes. In the more informal 2005 version, the greeting party includes the St Cuthbert’s Society tiger, the St Aidan’s College badger, and the Duck of DUCK – Durham University Charities Kommittee. From the station Bill Bryson, accompanied by Sir Kenneth Calman and Nick Pickles travelled around the city to Palace Green in a 1929 Citroen C4 Landaulette supplied and driven by Mr Stan Harper of Ace Wedding Cars, Durham. During this week Bill Bryson will meet students and staff, visit departments including Queen’s Campus Stockton, plus History, Geography and Physics. He confers honorary degrees at a special public ceremony as part of the celebration of his inauguration as the eleventh chancellor of Durham University. As Chancellor Dr Bill Bryson is the formal head of the University, which has 14,600 students and more than 75,000 graduates across the world. He takes office at a time when the University is increasing its appeal to students from the widest range of backgrounds, investing in its academic strengths and preparing to celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2007 and was recently named ‘University of the Year’ by The Sunday Times. There will be a range of opportunities to meet Dr Bill Bryson during the week. Bill will meet staff and students on Monday at Queen’s Campus. He will visit the Clinical Skills Laboratory where he will observe staff and students examining clinical imaging, and a Foundation Programme Lecture on the ‘Adaptation to the Environment’ module who will be taking part in an interactive exercise on evolution. On Wednesday Dr Bryson will take part in a public ceremony to confer degrees three honorary graduands, of his choice, at Durham Cathedral. These include Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Vicar of St Martin-in the Fields church in London, Professor Stanley Wells, a distinguished expert on Shakespeare and Professor Richard Dawkins, author of many books on scientific issues. There will also be a selection of music, singing and poetry. Dr Bryson will open the new postgraduate facilities at Ustinov College with Dr Penny Wilson, College Principal, Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor and Professor Tim Burt, Dean of Colleges. Formally named Fisher House, the new facilities will provide students with a socialising area. With the introduction of a new Science Learning Centre at Framwellgate School Bill will visit the centre, which works to inspire the next generation of scientists, in a regional partnership led by Durham University. He will meet the staff and see teachers and pupils in action. There are also staff and student events with Bill during the week.