This is my last message to you as Chancellor. I have had the most glorious six years at Durham, and I am going to miss it terribly. But it is time now to allow someone else to enjoy the privilege of representing this wonderful institution, although I am hoping to be able to keep the magnificent robes.
Durham is a place of huge distinction, of actual greatness. Everyone who comes here benefits from and contributes to that greatness. That’s the wonderful thing about it. I hope that you will continue to both benefit and contribute for the rest of your days and to remember, and perhaps remind others, how lucky we all were and are to have a place like Durham: great, good, lovely, successful and loved.
It is for this reason that for my final Chancellor’s Appeal I want to find a way to give something to our most vulnerable students, those whose personal or family finances put them on the very edge of being able to stay here. For my last act as Chancellor I want to create an Alumni Emergency Fund to help those students who may not otherwise be able to remain at Durham because of sudden and unforeseen changes in their financial circumstances.
Of course the University already has a substantial range of programmes to encourage students from less well-off backgrounds, and there are a wide range of scholarships available, many of which have been established by the generosity of our alumni. I therefore wish to target this year’s appeal somewhat differently. I want to ask for your help in supporting students who are already here but who suddenly find themselves in such desperate straits that they are forced to go to their college tutors and ask for an emergency grant or loan from the University.
This happens even in the best of economic times, and our experience shows that almost all the applications are made by students from low-income families or by mature students seeking to make a significant change in their lives. Given the current economic situation, however, we anticipate that budgets are going to become a lot tighter for many more middle-income families and that the number of both UK and overseas students asking for contingency funding will rise considerably. I would therefore like to ask for your help in creating an alumni emergency fund of £250,000.
This figure will be easily obtainable if everyone gives £10 or more. Would you please join me in doing this? If you can help, you can make your gift here online or print off our Donation Form and send it back to us.
This isn’t goodbye however. I am looking forward to becoming a Durham alumnus myself and being involved in the wonderful alumni community that is such a large part of having been here. Perhaps I will even see you at the Palatinate Christmas Ball in London? I am sure you feel the same, but once you have been part of Durham you always feel part of Durham.
With thanks for all your support during my time as Chancellor and with all good wishes for the future,