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Photo by Michael Baker

Get to know the staff!

Melissa – College Librarian

  1. If you could outline your role at John’s in a sentence, what would you say?  Supporting students with finding and using the library resources they need for their studies and working to keep the library safe and organised.
  2. What is your favourite place around College? The library of course!
  3. Where do you recommend people visit in Durham? It’s quite a walk from College, but Brasside Pond is lovely.
  4. What is your favourite book? This changes, but I’m currently really enjoying a Dorothy Day biography called The World Will Be Saved by Beauty.
  5. Why would you come to Johns if you were a student?  There is a wonderful sense of community and you will be able to study in our beautiful new College Library

David Wilkinson – Principal 

  1. If you could outline your role at John’s in a sentence, what would you say? College Principal – no one including myself is sure what I do.
  2. What is your favourite place around College? Main entrance to Haughton
  3. Where do you recommend people visit in Durham? Tomb of the Venerable Bede in Durham Cathedral
  4. What is your favourite book? Sherlock Holmes, The Complete Collection
  5. What tip would you give a prospective student to getting their University career off to the best start here at Johns? Don’t panic
  6. Whose job would you like to have at Johns instead of your own? On the servery in Haughton serving potatoes of all styles
  7. Do you have a favourite day during the academic year at Johns? (eg. Johns Day, Bailey Ball etc.) Congregation – being able to congratulate students for all their hard work
  8. What is your favourite type of potato at Johns? Curly fries
  9. If you could come to University now, what subject would you study? Sports science
  10. When did you come to Johns and has it changed since you have been here? I became Principal in 2006 and it has changed a lot
  11. What is something unique to Johns? A college chapel which has been in use for over 800 years
  12. Describe yourself in 3 words. Optimist, Christian, Ageing
  13. Why would you come to Johns if you were a student? Despite the Principal, it is the best college in the university – serious about serious things but doesn’t take itself too seriously
  14. If you were a packet of crisps, what would you be and why? Ready salted – not too out of the ordinary
  15. What is something about John’s that not many people would know? Many years ago when the College was in need of repair, the University Vice Chancellor during a visit fell through the floor of one of the corridors
  16. What has surprised you about life in Johns this year? Amazing resilience of staff and students in the midst of the pandemic
  17. Who is another staff member or team that you could not do your job without? Clare who looks after my diary and admin
  18. If you had a spirit animal, what would it be and why? An owl – it would be a hoot
  19. What is your favourite film? Return of the Jedi

Rebecca Bouveng – Senior Tutor

  1. If you could outline your role at John’s in a sentence, what would you say? As Senior Tutor, it’s a pretty broad remit centred on college life: I head up student support and wellbeing, events and student development, accommodation and admissions, in addition to being a College Officer, i.e. part of the management team.
  2. What is your favourite place around College? These days, the Linton Garden Café/Bar outside area.
  3. Where do you recommend people visit in Durham? Aykley Heads nature reserve and Vennels Café for their Pavlova, in that order.
  4. What is your favourite book? There are many, but I always find myself re-reading John’s le Carré’s Tinker Tailor and Smiley series, Jane Austen, and Dennis Lehane.
  5. What tip would you give a prospective student to getting their University career off to the best start here at Johns? Talk to a lot of different people, especially those you wouldn’t normally hang out with. Spending time with people who are different from you and think differently from you will sharpen you intellectually and make life more interesting.  
  6. Whose job would you like to have at John’s instead of your own? Harry’s (maintenance/gardening) – I’d love spend more time outside and work with my hands. Though I suspect the gardens would suffer.
  7. What is your favourite type of potato at Johns? Hash browns, eaten at breakfast with eggs and tomato. I really miss breakfast at John’s (staff normally eat in the dining room, but not this year during Covid).
  8. If you could come to University now, what subject would you study? History.  “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history” – Hegel.
  9. When did you come to Johns and how has it changed since you have been here? I came to John’s in 2000 as an international Fresher. Then, the food wasn’t memorable and the dining room felt dark and dingy.  Now, the catering is fresh, tasty and generally amazing and sunny Haughton Orangery (the extended dining room) is the best spot in College.
  10. Why would you come to Johns if you were a student? I already did, can’t remember all my original reasons but I’m really happy I did.
  11. What is something about John’s that not many people would know? That much of the UK Fairtrade Movement originated at John’s, driven by John’s students in the late 1960s.
  12. What is your favourite film? Rushmore. For some students, John’s becomes their Rushmore.

Jasmine Baker-Sones – Assistant Senior Tutor

  1.  If you could outline your role at John’s in a sentence, what would you say? My role is to provide student support for all undergraduate and MA students as well as to create student development opportunities within St John’s College.
  2. What is your favourite book? ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman is one of my stand out favourites! It is hilarious and heart breaking all at the same time.
  3. What tip would you give a prospective student to getting their University career off to the best start here at Johns? My tip would be to not put too much pressure on yourself in your first year of University. You are coming to university to study, but also to have fun and try new things! I always say to first years “It would be very boring for your Department if you came in as first class student, you are here to learn and grow throughout your degree so don’t put yourself under too much academic pressure in the first year of your degree, just enjoy it!”.
  4. Why would you come to Johns if you were a student? I would have come to John’s for its beautiful buildings and gardens as well as the location on the Bailey. The community and friendly atmosphere at John’s would also have persuaded me, and not to blow my own trumpet, but also the excellent student support from the Senior Tutor’s Office, the SJCR Peer Support team and wider university community.
  5. Who is another staff member or team that you could not do your job without? I could not do my job without the whole Senior Tutor’s Office. As a team, we support each other, collaborate on projects and supply each other with baked goods!

John Blackbourn – Porter/Reception 

  1. If you could outline your role in a sentence what would it be? Here to help and to serve
  2. What is your favourite place in College? Cranmer Lawn when the Magnolia Tree is in blossom
  3. What is your favourite type of potato at Johns? Couch.
  4. What is unique to Johns? A staircase that leads to nowhere.
  5. Why would you come to John’s if you were a student? Food’s great and the Bar’s good.
  6. If you had a spirit animal what would it be and why? A Lakeland Terrier. I lost mine last year at the grand old age of 15 years. So he would be my choice because he was loyal, great fun, never complained and you could have a good conversation with him and he would always listen.

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