Reading Allowed had its first meeting this Saturday past. Around 15 people came, many to share, some just to listen. We squeezed into a snug little room in Grad’s building. This, alongside the hot drinks and dim lamplight, added to the cosiness. We kicked off with a short children’s story about arrogant raindrops. Reading passed anticlockwise around the circle; with teas, hot chocolates and coffees frantically assembled in the intervening spaces. We had a huge variety of pieces: from Hungarian poetry to Silmarillion to Plath to two people’s own work to a passage on fecal analysis from a non-fiction book on wolves. We have no particular limitations on what can be read; speeches and song lyrics being examples of other writing people may share in the future.
There are currently around 26 people on the chat where we organise the meetings. As it is open-invite, more people are slowly trickling in as their friends recommend it. Overall it was a sort of gender-diverse Dead Poets’ Society; something that we didn’t realise until we actually started. There is another one planned this Saturday, hopefully then continuing every other week.
P.S. Much as we love a pun, we’re hoping that a quote will be shared at some point that makes for an even more fitting name.
The Governing Body of St Chad’s College is delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Woodruff as its next Chair.
Mark brings a great deal of governance experience and a long commitment to social justice and inclusion. He is currently a Programme Director of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Mark is also a musician and, as a priest, a writer in the field of ecumenism.
Mark knows St Chad’s well. He was a student here in the late seventies and has been actively engaged as an alumnus in recent years.
Mark succeeds Jonathan Blackie, who is near the end of his term as Governing Body Chair. The College is extremely grateful for Jonathan’s wise and kind leadership over the last eight years.
On Monday 20th November 2017, staff and students at St Chad’s College were joined by the North East England Chamber of Commerce and leaders of the North East business community for the launch of our new regional graduate retention initiative, Intern:NE.
The talent and energy of Chad’s graduates is often unfortunately lost to the North East when the vast majority of these students leave the region to begin their careers, most often in the South East. The new Intern:NE program aims to challenge students’ assumptions that you can begin or progress your career only in the South East by connecting our current students with exciting opportunities in the North East business community.
Through engagement with a North East business or organisation via internships graduates are more likely to consider working in the region after graduation. This helps the region to retain prized talent and energy, and gives North East businesses valuable early access to some of the most accomplished graduates in the UK.
The College is proud of its location and heritage in the North East, and is committed to contributing to the region’s economic and cultural success. Over the past six months, College staff have been building relationships with some of the most prestigious employers in the North East to secure offers of internships or work experience placements exclusively for students at St Chad’s. We were joined at the launch by partners, CEOs and Trustees of many of these employers, who had the opportunity to mix with and speak to our students.
James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, addressed guests at the launch and said:
‘Improving our graduate retention rate is a key challenge for the North East. As a region, we are relatively successful at retaining students from the North East who go on to work here after graduation. However, we can do more to improve our attraction and retention of students from outside the region.
We know there are many great reasons to build your career in the North East, and we want to support businesses, particularly SMEs, to raise awareness of the opportunities they offer to graduates. The Intern:NE initiative developed by St Chad’s College at the University of Durham will help to address this issue by giving students an introduction to employers in the North East and providing valuable work experience.’
On Monday 13th November the Chapel Choir sang evensong in the cathedral for the first time this academic year.
The highlight of the service was undoutably the Vaughan Williams anthem: Lord, Thou hast been our refuge for choir, organ and trumpet, the final chords of which shook the building. Many thanks go to Tom Rickard, 3rd year Economics, for his trumpet playing and to Peter Swift, the College Organist, for playing the organ.
In sleepy Durham nothing much has changed but our graduates have moved on into the big wide world. But for one weekend they had the chance to journey back to Durham for two days of nostalgia, northern chills and necking reasonably priced drinks in the bar.
The bop of Friday saw Chadsians relive their adolescent days with the returners bop theme being childhood TV and film characters. I imagine the Cassidy Quad looked very similar to the CBBC production floor in the late 1990s and early 2000s as we were graced with the likes of Neil Buchanan from Art Attack, The Chuckle Brothers and all four Teletubbies!
Saturday was steak night for the returners’ on formal before they headed to the Princey B one last time! Apart from one attempt to dive into the river the night went swimmingly and the weekend, as a whole, was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Alice graduated from St Chad’s in 2016, having studied English Literature, and is currently working as a Theatre Producer across Yorkshire and the North West. She is currently the Resident Producer for two companies: Knaive Theatre and Front Room Productions. Knaive Theatre creates bold, controversial and political theatre and is currently touring the acclaimed Bin Laden: The One Man Show, while Front Room specialises in intimate site-specific productions. Most recently she has produced an outdoor version of Twelfth Night set on a Yorkshire farm, and later this year will produce an immersive production of A Christmas Carol that is to tour venues in Leeds, York, Bradford and Manchester.
Earlier this year she took her first Arts Council funded project, Unsung, into Research and Development. Unsung explores the untold and under-acknowledged stories of four pioneering female figures from British history – Ada Lovelace, Sophia Jex-Blake, Lilian Bailey and Andrea Dunbar. She and the ensemble had two key objectives: to devise something that interrogated in a lively and modern way the underrepresentation of women in history, the theatre, and society at large, and to develop four complex female protagonists.
By creating Unsung, they intend to question why these inspirational figures, and hundreds of others like them, are so absent from what Britain, as a nation, is taught of its history. In collaboration with the writer Lisa Holdsworth (Midsomer Murders, Waterloo Road), the show is undergoing further development at the moment, with the intention to tour regionally in 2018.
On Tuesday evening, in the context of the Postgraduate Formal dinner, our newest College Fellow, Professor Bryan Morton CBE, was presented with his (very green) St Chad’s Foundation Fellow’s hood.
Before presenting Bryan with his hood, Dr Masson said: “We are honouring with our College’s highest award, our College Foundation Fellowship, someone who has made a significant contribution to Chad’s over a number of years. It is our way of saying thank you, because actually, when someone accepts a fellowship, the real honour is ours. It’s a way of saying: “this is someone we admire, and who is making a very distinguished contribution in a number of areas that we think are very important – someone in whose glory we want to bask, just a little”.
Dr Masson highlighted three reasons for St Chad’s decision to honour Bryan Morton in this way: first for his outstanding success as an entrepreneur and for his commitment to sharing his experience with Durham University and students of St Chad’s; second for his work in the healthcare industry, developing drugs to treat a range of terrible diseases and alleviate suffering all over the world; and finally St Chad’s is hugely grateful for Bryan’s generosity in supporting the College’s Joe Cassidy Scholarship Fund which helps to help ensure that no student with the talent is excluded from a Chad’s education because they cannot afford it.
Special guests at the dinner included the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Corbridge, the Dean of Durham Business School, Professor Susan Hart, President of the North East Chamber of Commerce, John McCabe, and a number of other North East business leaders and champions of enterprise.
It was a wonderful evening abounding in good conversation, great food, and new friendships. Not only was our newest College Fellow hooded and welcomed, but St Chad’s relationship with the University and with the North East was toasted and celebrated.
The first in the series of ‘Perspectives’ talks at St Chad’s College took place on Monday 16th October at 6:30pm. The ‘Perspectives’ series which brings together a wide range of academics from Durham University is St Chad’s College’s very own pioneering interdisciplinary college module. For this first event, a panel of students and researchers came together to discuss the incredibly topical issue of millennials, the ‘snowflake’ generation, notoriously (and perhaps unjustifiably) known for their wayward ideals and expectations. The evening was introduced by College Principal, Dr Margaret Masson and Vice Principal, Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan, who both emphasised the importance of inter-disciplinary and even inter-generational learning and scholarship at Durham. Encouraging students to make the most out of the resources at both St Chad’s and the wider university, they also introduced the notion of the ‘snowflake generation’, which has been recently defined as millennials who are generally more prone to taking offence and less resilient to difference in attitudes and ideas than previous generations.
First up to speak about this issue was Durham Students’ Union’s very own President, Megan Croll. Megan gave a personal insight into the issues and challenges that she faces and helps people with in her role as a student leader. These included issues such as the rise of social media in connecting individuals, as well as the ability of our ‘digital age’ to give us far more choice over who we engage and interact with, citing dating apps such as Tinder as positive ways to identify shared interests. Megan also outlined the heightened level of pressure that students are now being put under to achieve more than previous generations, and claimed that this might be responsible for fuelling the ambitions of students to go further than their predecessors.
Second to speak was Dr Benedict Anderson who is an Assistant Professor in the Law School. Dr Anderson defined a snowflake as a ‘unique item that melts under pressure’, and argued that this can apply to a wide range of people when faced with challenging situations. He also outlined the sketchy area between intention and offence, citing how it might be possible to unconsciously cause offence due to differences in outlook and ideology.
Final to speak was Becca Dean, a youth worker and PhD researcher in the School of Applied Social Sciences. Becca introduced three broad ideas that attempt to explain the effects of the current generation’s excessive use of social media. Firstly, Becca introduced the concept of ‘Elkind’s Personal Fable’, which attempts to explain how self-curation is often imagined as a social act, where our appearance becomes a symbolic representation of who we are. Secondly, Becca unpacked Erikson’s Stages of Development, explaining how our sense of ‘self’ coordinates and changes the way in which we relate with others, creating communities that systematically include and exclude others. Finally, Becca used the research of Caitlin Moran to explain how the internet, still in its relative infancy, is like a teenager; a “new-founded liberal city that failed to install a sheriff” and was consequently a little wayward in its behaviour.
The audience were very receptive to these ideas, taking the opportunity after the introductory speeches to break into small clusters and explore the issues at stake. This was followed by a more informal networking opportunity to find out more about the experiences, insights and research of the speakers. The next talk in the series takes place on Monday, 30th October at 18.30, where the topic will be the very relevant issue of the future of meat and the ethical issues that surround its consumption.
On the weekend of 21st-22nd October, several of the St Chad’s College Choir Scholars joined the St Chad’s Alumni Choir for a weekend of singing at the prestigious Leicester Cathedral. Although the Scholars were very generously treated to a four-star hotel and a lovely meal, the weekend was no jolly and lots of hard work was achieved!
Having left Durham at 7am in a minibus for Leicester, upon the arrival of the Durham cohort, rehearsals started straight away led by Philip Drew. The repertoire for this weekend was a treat, featuring some great British choral classic such has Howell’s Collegium Regale and Stanford’s Beati Quorum Via. The choir sang two services: Choral Evensong on Saturday and a Eucharist Service on Sunday morning. Both services were a success, especially considering the short rehearsal time that all the members had together. Notably, the choir did very well to get to grips with pesky Psalm from Saturday’s evensong which was extremely long with difficult moments!
The choir felt very welcome at Leicester Cathedral by the staff and by the people of the parish. The whole weekend was highly enjoyable, and I would like to thank the Alumni for asking the scholar’s to join them at their reunion and also thank them for their extreme generosity!
Third year, Music, Choral Scholar
Thanks to Philip Drew for directing, to Peter Swift for playing the organ, and to everyone who came and sang, or supported us!