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Durham First

Notes from the Chancellor

Chancellor with Librarian

In March I was privileged to be awarded the freedom of the City of Durham at a very formal but nevertheless magical ceremony at the beautiful town hall in Durham's Market Place. I'm not too sure what exactly this new honour entitles me to. Perhaps I'll get to graze goats on Palace Green or dry my washing in the Cathedral nave on the birthday of the Venerable Bede. Whatever privileges have been bestowed upon me, none can compete with the pride I feel in joining a handful of former Durham mayors, eminent council servants and fellow ‘wildcard' freemen like Desmond Tutu and Sir Bobby Robson, in the oak panelled hall of fame above the fish counter of the equally treasured indoor market.

I continue to serve the University (and my adopted city) with great enthusiasm (and still a little bemusement) and I've had some memorable moments at the University since I last wrote to you. I was involved in the launch of our IAS' book, Thinking About Almost Everything, which is available in all good bookshops now (more of this on page 7), I've met yet more students and staff, chatting about everything from Shakespeare to social responsibility, community volunteering to computational vivisection. (OK so I made up that last bit but I'm sure we'll have a research expert on the matter in our ranks soon). This place and its people - be they students, staff or alumni - never cease to amaze me.

No direct call from me to dig deep this time around although I am delighted to say that we have been overwhelmed by the response to the Library Appeal which I gladly supported with over 1600 alumni pledging support and more than £130,000 raised to date. I hear that donations are still arriving in the post daily.

More than £100,000 has been raised for library resources, with an additional £30,000 raised for our colleges and departments.

I mentioned in my Library Appeal letter that currently only around 4% of our alumni support Durham, but thanks to this appeal, am pleased to report that we are well on the way to raising our participation rate this year. Thanks to all those who have supported, and it is not too late to consider making a gift this year. Oops, I've done it again. Not everything in life is free, it would seem.

Warmest wishes always

Bill Bryson, Chancellor