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Fiona Hill, Chancellor

2022 - present

Dr Fiona Hill in chancellor robesDr Fiona Hill was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, the daughter of a coal miner. She is an acclaimed foreign affairs specialist, author and former presidential advisor to George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She served on the US National Intelligence Council from 2006 to 2009 and was a member of the US National Security Council from 2017 to 2019.

Fiona is, and will remain, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington DC. It conducts in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.

Fiona is a widely recognised authority on Russian and European Geopolitics. She has researched and published extensively on her specialist subjects. She is author of “There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century” and co-author of “Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin”.

"From the coalhouse to the White House"

After attending Bishop Barrington Comprehensive School, Bishop Auckland, Fiona pursued degree studies at St Andrew’s University, Scotland, graduating with a Master’s in Russian and Modern History. She holds a Master’s in Soviet Studies and a doctorate in History from Harvard University, USA, where she was a Frank Knox Fellow. She became a US citizen in 2002 and is married with one daughter.

Having, in her words, moved “literally from the coalhouse to the White House”, she is passionate about social mobility. She visited her former secondary school in June 2022 to give a talk to pupils. She encouraged them to grasp “every educational opportunity” they are given and spoke of her desire to “give back” to the area where she grew up.

You can find out more about Fiona on the Brookings Institution website.

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(Recorded via Zoom at the Meet the Chancellor event in November 2022)

The role of the Chancellor

The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of Durham University. It is a high-profile role which includes official, pastoral, scholarly and ambassadorial duties. 

Some of the key responsibilities of the Chancellor include:

  • presiding over the University's degree congregations (degree ceremonies)
  • helping the University to promote its achievements and to enhance its profile regionally, nationally and internationally
  • hosting or participating in a number of the University's activities with students, staff, alumni and other stakeholders.

Contact details

Any enquiries may be directed via the Director of Advancement, Marketing and Communications, Lucian Hudson, at