List of Vice-Chancellors and Wardens of Durham University

Archdeacon Charles Thorp, the first Warden of Durham University

The Vice-Chancellor and Warden is the Chief Executive Officer of Durham University. He or she also holds the position of "Warden of the Durham Colleges" and is appointed by Council. Reporting to the Vice-Chancellor and Warden (and also members of the University Executive Committee) are the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Research, Education and each of the faculties (Arts and Humanities, Science, and Social Science and Health), the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Warden of the Colleges, the Registrar (Chief Operating Officer) and the Treasurer (Chief Financial Officer).[1][2][3]

Under the original constitution of the University, the post of Warden combined the roles of chief executive and formal head of the University. Charles Thorp was appointed acting Warden in December 1831 by Bishop William van Mildert, and in 1834 he was appointed to the position on a permanent basis by the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral (who were then the governors of the University). After Thorp's death in 1862, the past of Warden was held ex officio by the Dean of Durham, with the Sub-Warden (which had previously been rotated between the professors of the University) becoming a permanent post, presaging the Vice-Chancellorship.[note 1] From 1909, with the creation of the federal university, and the handing over of the Dean and Chapter's responsibilities to the newly-formed Council, the executive and formal roles were officially separated into the Vice-Chancellor (executive head) and the Chancellor (formal head), with the Warden becoming the Chancellor and the Sub-Warden becoming the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor was elected by the Council to serve a two-year term. In 1937 the permanent posts of Warden of the Durham Colleges and Rector of King's College were created, with the Vice-Chancellorship being held by each for two years at a time. With King's College becoming Newcastle University in 1963, the Wardenship of the Durham Colleges was permanently united with the Vice-Chancellorship as the Vice-Chancellor and Warden.[4][5][6] The University numbers Chris Higgins as its 23rd Vice Chancellor and Warden, implying a count starting with the University's reconstitution in 1909 and continuing through the further reconstitutions in 1937 and 1963 despite the changes of title over this period.[7]

Wardens of Durham University

Source: Durham University Records.[4]


Source: Fowler (1904)[5] and Durham University Records.[4]


Source: Durham University Records.[4]

Vice-Chancellors and Wardens

Source: Durham University Records[4] except where otherwise noted.

See also


  1. The Durham University Records webpage lists the Wardens with the Chancellors and the Sub-Wardens with the Vice-Chancellors[4]


  1. "How the University is run". Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  2. "Responsibilities of Council Members". Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  3. "University Executive Committee". Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Durham University Records: Central Administration and Officers". Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  5. 1 2 J. T. Fowler. Durham university; earlier foundations and present colleges. F. E. Robinson & co., 1904. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  6. Nigel Watson (2007). The Durham Difference. James & James (Publishers) Ltd, London.
  7. "Key dates". Durham University. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 2007 - Professor Chris Higgins becomes the 23rd Vice-Chancellor and Warden.
  8. Tony Kearney (1 September 2015). "New leader takes up post at Durham University". Northern Echo. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
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