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Welcome to 2019-20, A New Year of Inspiration

To the entire on-campus and worldwide Pearson College UWC community, welcome to the 2019-20 academic year, a year of inspiration, learning and adjustment, especially for our year 46 students as you settle in. Year 45 students, welcome back! We’re sure your summer was filled with wonderful experiences and we look forward to hearing all about them. Our first-year cohort is one of our largest – 106 students strong. Year 46, we know your heads will be spinning for the first few days. Enjoy it and embrace every new experience with an open heart.

To our faculty, staff, residents and volunteers, we are all part of an amazing team. Thank you for your ongoing support for global education in these challenging times around the world. More than ever, the value of fostering and guiding young people who will become positive leaders and changemakers is critical to our collective future.

We know the start of a school year brings questions as well as excitement about the opportunities that lie ahead. As leaders with responsibility to guide the College vision, provide prudent financial stewardship and ensure that our programming is effective and meaningful to our students, we are eager to share some recent developments.

Creating an Indigenous Vision at the College is one of our key objectives this year. We are pleased to be working closely with Marcia Dawson, an accomplished Indigenous leader who will assist Pearson in developing this vision on both individual and community levels. Together with Indigenous elders and experienced community colleagues, Marcia will work directly with Indigenous students at Pearson and will facilitate consultation and dialogue with the entire Pearson community.

Marcia is Gitxsan, originally from Gitanyow in what is now known as north-western B.C. and lives in the unceded Lekwugen territory now called Victoria. Her work with a diverse range of Indigenous organizations, public agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and governments at the community, provincial, and national levels is complemented by a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Indigenous Studies from the University of Victoria.

The Board fully supports this new direction, which builds upon the commitment made by Désirée McGraw at the beginning of her mandate as President and Head of College to ensure all members of our community on the unceded territory of the Scia’new (Beecher Bay) First Nation understand the truth, history and contemporary realities of Indigenous peoples, and also builds upon her call to action for Pearson to participate in Reconciliation.

We hope many of you have seen our shared stories of working with Scia’new leadership, elders and community. We embrace the flourishing of this respectful relationship which is seeing more experiential learning and activities involving both our students and members of the Beecher Bay community. On a more formal level, we continue to be engaged in discussions with Scia’new First Nation and the District of Metchosin on a Memorandum of Understanding to help develop a common vision for the lands around the campus. We hope to share exciting news arising from these discussions soon.

The renewal of the Pearson campus continues. Work is virtually complete on East House – the fourth of our five student residences to be refurbished with new, brighter interiors and energy-efficient retrofits to improve not only the learning and living environment but also to keep the operating costs of these historic structures under control. A look in any direction on campus reveals new, long-life roof replacements on a number of academic and other buildings to deal with deteriorating wooden shakes.

Much of this work, and the infrastructure renewal to come, is made possible by the generosity of donors who believe in the mission of the UWC and Pearson. We fully support Désirée and her team as we pursue an ambitious campaign to Renew and Re-found Pearson College fo the next 50 years of service, scholarship and leadership. This campaign seeks to refurbish our campus, renew our curriculum and reinvest in scholarships that make it possible for outstanding young people to attend Pearson and other UWC schools.

Pearson’s volunteer Board of Directors takes seriously the College’s fundraising initiatives. Like most other UWC schools, we face the ongoing challenge of financial sustainability. That is why the Chairs of the eighteen UWC Colleges are undertaking a complete review of our individual and collective financial needs and opportunities. For Pearson these challenges will be addressed through the lens of our Strategic Plan 2022 and reflect UWC International’s commitment to building financial sustainability across all 18 UWC schools.

Finally, a reminder of our core mission: education and related programming. Last spring, a cross section of the Pearson community gathered as a working group to begin a six-month process to develop and confirm our Educational Vision and Strategy. As Heather Gross, Vice President of Education Programming put it, the challenge is to offer the most creative and innovative programming possible while ensuring that we are nimble and responsive to the academic, experiential and other educational needs of our global student body.

Pearson continues to play a key role in cross-UWC discussions around creating a UWC diploma that modernizes our IB program and reflects Pearson’s unique character. Expect to hear more about those discussions in the coming months.

We hope you will join us as we consider the many positive initiatives coming in the year ahead. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and the senior leadership team, we wish you well as we begin the 2019-20 school year.

With respect,

Anne McLellan
Chair of the Board of Directors
Pearson College UWC