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Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, stood smiling with arms folded, in front of bookshelves

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien looks ahead to our Congregation and other summer activities.

Few would disagree that one of the greatest treasures of Durham City, County Durham and North East England is Durham Cathedral. Its stunning Romanesque architecture and unique atmosphere attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, of all faiths and none.

We take great pride, and are extremely grateful, that Durham University students get to graduate in the Cathedral. What university, anywhere in the world, can compete with the Cathedral as a congregation venue?

Our Summer Congregation begins on Monday (June 27) – this year running across two weeks, so that we can give students whose graduation was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic the traditional Durham send-off. Thousands of students will graduate, from over 100 countries across the globe, supported by their friends and relatives. Truly, the world will come to Durham; before we send Durham people out into the world.

A city-wide celebration

This is my first Summer Congregation as Vice-Chancellor and my hope is that it can be a celebration not only for students and their loved ones but for the whole city.

We know that these visitors bring a great boost to city businesses: shops, restaurants, accommodation venues and visitor attractions. But there is more than that. Our students have benefitted from the very special place in which they have studied. My invitation is that you celebrate the past year with us. And fingers crossed for two weeks of fine Durham weather!

Other summer opportunities

Once Congregation is over, the University enters a different phase in our academic year. Fewer students are in the city and many of our staff take research trips or well-earned holidays. However, there are still many opportunities to enjoy what the University has to offer during the summer.

The Summer in the City arts festival continues throughout July, we will welcome back the Durham City Run Festival in mid-July, and a superb new exhibition of Roman artefacts as just opened at our Museum of Archaeology, to name just a few examples. The Botanic Garden is an ideal place to enjoy a summer afternoon. Or perhaps you’re looking for something more active, in which case our Sports and Wellbeing Park at Maiden Castle has a huge range to offer.

Finally, if you live in the city, you may have started to see the distinctive purple bags of our Green Move Out scheme return recently. This fantastic initiative allows students to donate no-longer-wanted items to charity at the end of the academic year – benefitting a range of good causes and helping us keep our beautiful city neat and tidy.

It couldn’t happen without a many dedicated student volunteers, whose achievements we celebrated at our annual Volunteering Awards recently. We are always looking to see how we can do more with volunteering, so if you are connected with a charity that could benefit from our support, please get in touch.

Thank you again for your support.

Find out more
Explore our Congregation ceremonies
Enjoy the Summer in the City festival
Join the Durham City Run Festival
More about the new Roman exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology
Find out more about the Green Move Out scheme
Visit the Botanic Garden
Find out what's on offer at our Sports and Wellbeing Park