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Durham First

Moving Forward

Carolyn Fowler

Another Durham first

Durham University has appointed its first female Registrar and Secretary in its 177 year history.

Carolyn Fowler, 39, becomes the first woman to be appointed permanently to the post after initially holding the position on an acting basis. As Registrar she is the University's chief operating officer with responsibility to the Vice-Chancellor for the University's business.

She heads the Registrar's Division of professional support departments which includes more than 650 staff working in areas of student admissions and recruitment, human resources, careers, libraries, IT, business relations, international services, communications and fundraising. The Registrar is also secretary to the overall governing Council committee and the Senate, which oversees academic policymaking and is a member of the University's senior management team and executive committee.

Carolyn was one of the first women to attend Durham's University College, housed in Durham Castle, and graduated in 1990 with an honours degree in History. Following various posts in the private and public sector in 1998 she was appointed as Administrative Officer in the School of Education at Durham before becoming Head of the Undergraduate Section in the Registrar's Division.

She became Deputy Director of the University's Strategic Planning and Change Unit in 2004 and a year later was appointed as Academic Registrar. She became acting Registrar and Secretary when the then incumbent Lee Sanders left Durham University for a role at the University of Birmingham in October 2008.

Originally from Kent, Carolyn is married to Tim and has a daughter, Elinor, nine. She said: "Durham is a place I really love and having arrived here as a student more than 20 years ago I am extremely proud to have been appointed as Registrar to the University.

Durham is one of the UK's top universities with a strong record in teaching and research and an extremely professional support service which combine to provide students with a truly first class experience. I look forward to working with the whole University community to build on these strengths over the coming years."

Note on the Progress of Durham University

As alumni may recall from my interview in the last issue of Durham First, Government is spreading its funding for education more and more thinly such that direct funding now makes up only about one third of Durham University's total income, and that of other leading Universities. The Government funding stream for research is linked to how well Durham performs across the UK higher education sector.

I am pleased to say that, following a rigorous research assessment exercise (the RAE), 90 percent of Durham's research work was found to be of international quality, placing us amongst the leading Universities for research in the country. This has resulted in a 5.5 percent increase in research income from the Government to Durham. Dividing research income by the number of full-time academic staff, my analysis shows that on a per capita basis, Durham University is ranked 7th in the country (out of 159 Universities) after Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Bristol, and Southampton. Interestingly, Durham received greater percentage increases than all but two of the above. This represents an outstanding achievement, confirming that Durham University is among the top tier for research not just nationally but internationally.

Teaching also received a 2.7 percent increase, which is in line with what other elite teaching universities received this year.

This overall funding award from the Government will further enhance the world-class research and teaching environment that Durham offers its students and staff. However, in developing a new University strategy a priority is to enhance this still further. We must aspire to be the very best and also ensure we are not too modest but are recognised as such around the world.

Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins