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Durham University

Colleges and Student Experience Division

Operations Directorate

As a key part of the Durham University Wider Student Experience, the Operations Team ensure that all undergraduate students have the opportunity to spend part of their time at university in residence at one of our sixteen Colleges. We consider it of particular importance for new undergraduate first year students to live, work, eat, and socialise together as part of a community of learning. The Operations team, of over 200 people, offer direct support to students through specialist guidance and advice. The team also support student-led activities and events, and the organisation of non-student events for internal and external users of the Colleges. In addition, the Operations team provide College services, including: porters, security (including out-of-hours cover), reception, housekeeping and cleaning, and bar management. All of these roles seamlessly support the consistent day-to-day running of student experience within wider College life.

Meet our team

Dr Nina Griffiths: Director of Operations

Initially trained as a scientist, Nina changed career to manage Corporate Development at Northumbria Police before moving to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, where she set the strategic agenda and led and positioned the organisation to meet emerging challenges and improve its services. Nina then joined the University in May 2019 as Director of Operations. In her role, Nina will ensure that a coherent and consistent service for the University’s residential operations across the Colleges, Experience Durham and Catering operates seamlessly and holistically in support of the student experience and student wellbeing.

Matt Deakin: Senior Manager (Residential Student Services)

Matt joined the University as a Careers Adviser in 2002 and subsequently worked as Employer Relations and New Business Manager (2005-2010). He joined the Colleges Division in 2011 as Assistant Registrar and has had a range of roles and responsibilities across the Division over the past eight years. Matt is responsible for all student college allocations as well as student accommodation planning, working closely with colleagues in Estates and Facilities and Student Recruitment and Admissions.

Chris Finnemore: Senior Community Operations Manager

Chris joined the University in 2001 as the Catering Manager at Grey College. In 2005, Chris moved to St Cuthbert's Society as Bursar, and in 2010 became Bursar of the College of St Hild and St Bede. In his new role as Senior Community Operations Manager, Chris is responsible for the efficient and effective management and operation of all the business and operational functions of the following Colleges: Van Mildert, Hild Bede, St Cuthbert's, St Aidan's, St Mary's, and Trevelyan.

Karen Blundell: Senior Community Operations Manager (Interim)

Karen joined the University in 2000 as the Bursar at Grey College. In 2010, Karen became joint Bursar for Grey & Collingwood Colleges. In her interim role as Senior Community Operations Manager, Karen is responsible for the efficient and effective management and operation of all the business and operational functions of the following Colleges: Collingwood, Grey, Hatfield, University College, Josephine Butler & Ustinov.

Paul Taylor: Head of Operations

Paul joined the University as Deputy Director of Catering (Retail) in 2008, with responsibilities for growing and developing Retail Catering Services across the University. In January 2017, Paul became Head of University Catering, with responsibilities for College and Retail Catering and Food Safety across the University. Since summer 2019, Paul has been working as Head of Operations, and continues to work closely with colleagues from across the Division and University and with the engagement of student communities in the development of new services.

Ricky Cohen: Senior Operations Manager (College Catering)

Ricky joined the University as Deputy Head of Catering in 2009, following a previous career within the licensed retail industry. Ricky has responsibility for catering within Durham's Colleges, providing managerial and leadership expertise to develop service provision across College catering.

Sarah Williamson: Senior Operations Manager (Retail Catering)

Following on from over 20 years in the catering and retail industry, Sarah joined the team in October 2018. Sarah is responsible for the performance of teams within retail cafés and restaurants across the University, with the aim to deliver excellent services to staff, students, and visitors alike. Sarah is also Catering lead on the launch of new brands into the estate, rebranding the existing cafés, and managing third part vendors.