Recently, I have been in contact with others like myself who are presidents of the alumni societies of Durham colleges, and are themselves ex students. What is clear to us is that while we are all glad to be Durham graduates we are especially proud of belonging each to our own college. It is evident that every college has its own ethos and atmosphere, as well as its own traditions, which we all fondly remember.
It was in the college that we experienced belonging to a multi-disciplinary academic community. By living and eating alongside peers from other disciplines and with differing interests we were given the opportunity to broaden our horizons. I, myself, have close friends from these years in Durham in sciences, humanities and music; their diverse insights and enthusiasms helped to widen mine, and maybe I occasionally broadened theirs! I expect this will be true for all of you, too. Most of us know intuitively that a collegiate university offers added value to a degree course, and we are grateful for it. When we gather for reunions we not only rediscover that breadth of interest which we initially encountered in college, we also find a rich diversity of experience accrued in the years between.
We in Mary’s are proud of our college as one of the places where women were first educated to degree level. Now, fully mixed Mary’s retains its pioneering character. I am immensely honoured to be the President of the Society. The committee is constantly working to enhance current students’ experience. We are currently initiating a bursary to be offered to a postgraduate who will live in college. This modest bursary of £500 per annum is an expression of our committee’s concern for the progression of current students through their time in college. I hope to be able to inform you more of this initiative in future years; it sits alongside our efforts to support students with book and travel grants. More information about these activities will appear in our annual reports. On line too you will be able to read about the activities for alumni arranged by the College’s sabbatical officer.
Mary’s is now one of the most popular colleges for applications, and certainly one of the most appreciated by students once they arrive in Durham. Recent events held in college have shown how keen alumni are to return, too. Whenever you graduated we look forward to hearing from you about your own successes, and we hope to see you back in college for reunion events. It would also be helpful to know of any initiatives you feel we should consider pursing to advance our efforts to enrich the experience of being a student in what we all know to be the best of the Durham colleges in a university among the best in the world.
If you have any bright ideas about the Society and its work, please don’t hesitate to contact me.