President's Corner

President's Blog

TUESDAY, 26 JULY 2016 2:35 PM

President’s Update: Summer 2016

La version française du Message de la Présidente : Été 2016 suivra sous peu.

In recent letters to parents, I mused that for the next weeks we would look out our office windows and see a campus where there are no students sitting, walking, running, or just standing quietly, taking the time to enjoy the fresh air and scents of summer. No calling out to friends, no bursts of laughter, nor the melodies of a single musician practicing. It would be awfully quiet! 
True, the students are not here, but it has hardly been a quiet time. 

In This Update: 

Saying Goodbye to the Students

The 19 May campus “Clean-up Day” was followed by the final Village Gathering and year-end barbecue, infused with all the emotions associated with saying au revoir to so many friends who would soon be far away. Please enjoy the photo album and a copy of my remarks

Outgoing faculty member Karun Thanjavur’s message of farewell, adieu, auf wiedersehen addressed to the Year 41 and 42 students perfectly embodies the amazing spirit of community that infuses the campus and Pearson community.

"Let me take this opportunity to let you know that my short but very memorable, enriching involvement at Pearson is also drawing to a close, and in some ways this will also be my last week at Pearson with you all, at least in the capacity of a teacher. To leave Pearson was a very difficult decision for me, and the reasons behind them are personal. Whatever the reasons may be, I wish to let you know that it was your warm welcome when I was parachuted into the middle of your school term, the engaged, enjoyable (and at times challenging!) classroom times with you, and the equally enjoyable, enriching times participating in various activities and discussions that made this decision extremely difficult for me.

Even though my tenure as a teacher is coming to a close, I sincerely desire to keep up my involvement with you all and the Pearson community in general as a volunteer. Topping the list of activities are of course the astro-club, Trail Rider, helping with math/physics tutoring, and perhaps even kick starting the computer programming course I proposed. As is always the case at Pearson, there is no dearth of interesting ventures to explore together! And hopefully enough time to do so too!! Let me also assure all my Y42 classes that I will remain fully engaged with my responsibilities till the end of this academic year, which especially includes a seamless transition of my advisees, EE and IA wards and all other such commitments.

As a final request, since I too am 'graduating' this year, I hope Y41 will accept me into your company as a quasi-alum. I would be delighted to join you for your reunions in the future."

Recent Past Events

On Monday, 6 June, Jean Drouin, Vice-chair of the Pearson Board of Directors and I hosted an event in Calgary for alumni, supporters and friends. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was our special guest and spoke eloquently of his commitment to intercultural understanding and recounted an experience at Pearson more than 15 years ago that he credits with starting his journey into civic politics.

I am very proud that Pearson hosted two important UWC conferences in mid-June. The trail-blazing UWC Pastoral Care Conference (19-24 June) was the first of its kind, bringing together residential staff representatives from all 15 UWC schools – in addition to the two prospective campuses in Thailand and Japan
– for invaluable exchanges on
best practices relating to residential life, including student wellness, gender issues, safety and security on campus, and much more.

On 21 June, Pearson alumnus Jens Waltermann, Executive Director of UWC International, gave a talk to all delegates providing updates from the International Office. A big thank-you to Dean of Students Libby Mason who worked closely with Richard (Larry) Lamont, the Head of Red Cross Nordic UWC, to ensure the success of the conference.

The annual meeting of the Directors of Admissions of all UWCs
was an enlightening opportunity to share challenges, innovations and goals as well as to exchange best practices in the invigorating task of encouraging exceptional young people to join the UWC movement.

1-16 July
We were thrilled to have the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA) join us on campus again for their annual two-week session. The grounds were magically transformed as dozens of artists unleashed their talents at this special retreat.

Current and Upcoming Events

FUN Camps
4 July - 26 August
A new, slightly younger, group of participants have joined Pearson College on campus this summer. The FUN Society in partnership with Pearson is bringing environmental education and leadership summer camps to youth ages 5 to 16 years old. The camps, which are made accessible to low-income, disadvantaged and/or at-risk children and youth, pair traditional camp activities, such as hiking, swimming and interactive games, with environmental education and adventure activities like kayaking and geocaching. Led by a mix of FUN Society staff and Pearson College students, campers experience the environment in all its wonder and are trained to become eco-superheroes to discover how they can enact positive social change at any age. We are grateful to Canadian telecommunications company Telus for the grant that enabled Pearson to partner with the Society.

Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL)
17 July – 6 August
Each summer, we bring together youth from around the world for
a three-week UWC experience that gives them the opportunity to build an international community committed to creating positive change in the world. Once again this season – our 20th! - we are hosting 81 participants who, along with 17 “animators” in the 2016 PSYL Program are enjoying an intensive, interactive and experiential learning program under the watchful eyes of the outstanding team of Program Coordinators. This year, for the first time, PSYL youth will be collaborating with local young leaders – including the Victoria Youth Council – to craft a series of youth-generated recommendations for Canada's climate plan. On Saturday 30 July, over 100 young leaders – representing five Canadian First Nations and 26 different countries, including two young Syrians recently settled in Canada – will gather at Pearson College to host a youth-led Climate Town Hall.

10-Year Reunion Years 31 and 32
6-10 August
Everyone is looking forward to welcoming the 35+ Pearson Alumni from Years 31 and 32 for their 10-Year Reunion. They represent over 15 countries and 6 Canadian provinces and, while all are making their mark in their chosen fields, Fredy Quib Oxom from Guatemala stands out both as the first Indigenous scholar from his country and for his commitment to his remote community. After graduating from Pearson, he went on to study with a Davis scholarship in the U.S. and returned home as soon as he graduated. He earned Davis Peace Project funding with which he built a high school in his hometown. It is now a fully operational, thriving, Indigenous Institute. Stay tuned for more on Pearson social media about Fredy’s project and the fascinating career choices of his fellow alumni. 

Year 42 Students’ Return
25 August
I can't wait to see the faces of “my” Year 42 (after all, we started at Pearson together) again, as we assume the role of “old hands”, guiding the new cohort of Year 43.

Year 43 Students Arrive
27 August
The composition of Year 43 continues the Pearson College tradition of deliberate diversity in our selection process. This year’s cohort of 80 students includes Pearson’s first from South Korea, at least one refugee, one selected through WUSC, and several Indigenous students. I am looking forward to greeting each and every one of you personally. 

I urge everyone – returning Yr 42 students , the new Yr 43 cohort, parents, guardians and families – to consult The Student Handbook 2016-17 as you make your plans for the coming year. Please note that this updated copy reflects our most recent policies and procedures relating to all students. 

The UWC Congress 2016
28 and 29 October in Trieste, Italy
(See UWC News below.)

Pearson College UWC Annual General Meeting
3-6 November, Vancouver, B.C. 
We have exciting plans for the AGM and will be confirming them to you in the early Fall. 

Administration News

Over the past months I have been examining the best possible organizational structure to enable Pearson to carry out our educational mission while ensuring our financial sustainability. The organizational changes I am now implementing are aligned with three pillars:

  • Education & Programming (the overall “Pearson experience” in terms of inter-cultural living, learning and leading for impact and change)
  • Advancement & External Relations (raising funds, friends and profile)
  • Operations & Administration (all internal non-academic functions including HR, finance, legal, infrastructure, IT, operational & strategic planning)

I am happy to announce a number of recent changes which the Board and I believe will enable Pearson to better accomplish its goals while fostering a culture of performance and excellence where hard work and results are recognized and rewarded.

Please read the full announcements here of the following appointments:

Education & Programming

  • Mark Bannar-Martin to continue as Deputy Head and Dean of Studies (through 31 December 2016)
  • *Heather Gross appointed as Pearson's new Director of Experiential Education (in addition to her ongoing work in Admissions and University Counselling)
  • Emily Coolidge appointed as Future Dean of Studies (effective 1 January 2017)
  • *Julia Clark appointed as Future Dean of Students (effective 1 June 2017)
  • *Clint Kuzio appointed as Pearson's first Indigenous Educator, Advisor and Coordinator of Reconciliation Programming
  • *Dani McArthur appointed as Library and Learning Support Coordinator

Advancement & External Relations

  • Dan Hurley appointed as Pearson College’s new VP Advancement & External Relations (effective 15 August)
  • Suzanne Dubé appointed as Director of Philanthropy & Legacy Giving
  • *Benoît Charlebois appointed as Director of Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Operations & Administration

  • Tyrone Pile appointed as Pearson College's new VP Operations & Administration
  • Nina Moroso appointed as Pearson's Governance Officer and UWC National Committee of Canada Coordinator (see UWC-NCC below)
  • Valérie Colas welcomed as new Executive Coordinator and Assistant to Head of Pearson College (effective 1 August)

I am especially pleased that of the appointments made so far, five of the appointees (indicated by *) are Pearson College Alumni – confirming our commitment to engaging Alumni and enhancing their impact on the world; and six are in Education – reflecting my commitment to re-invest in our central mandate and to ensure our program (both inside and outside the classroom) is world-class. 

UWC News

A newly reconstituted UWC National Committee of Canada (UWC-NCC)
Most countries have a national committee structure. In early June, the Pearson College Board of Directors confirmed their decision to create the UWC-NCC, initially constituted as a standing committee of the Board.

This step strengthens a truly national selection process and an expanded reach for UWC students in Canada. Importantly, it incorporates a multi-faceted role that includes programming – in particular Experiential Education – along with External Relations (fund-raising, communications and marketing, community engagement and alumni relations). UWC-NCC will be a venue for selection of Canadians to attend other UWCs, for means testing and for new national programs that are targeted beyond provincial or territorial affiliation (francophone, Indigenous, rural or urban students). Working in this direction will substantially increase the flexibility of Pearson College to continue to attract the strongest candidates possible and at the same time to improve access for all Canadians to the UWC experience. In tandem with the regional selection practice, this national layer will conform to the UWC International recommendations and be important for governance and practical reasons.

Congratulations to PIA (Phuket International Academy) in Thailand
PIA (Phuket International Academy) in Thailand officially becomes the UWC’s 16th school, under the name of UWC Thailand, effective 1 August 2016. We’re pleased to have you as part of
the UWC family! 

“Connect, Challenge, Celebrate”
The UWC Congress 2016 will take place on 28 and 29 October in Trieste, Italy. Climate change, increasing global inequality, a
rise in nationalism, an ever growing number of refugees and conflicts between and within societies are just a few of the major challenges we are facing today. In light of this, the need to educate young people for a peaceful and sustainable future is greater than ever – and so is the need for our community to vigorously pursue the UWC mission.

The Congress is the biggest UWC event and brings together members from across UWC – current students, alums, current and former staff from all UWC schools and colleges, national committee volunteers, governors, donors – alongside friends and supporters of the UWC movement.  

Davis-UWC Impact Challenge
Deadline 31 July
In August 2015, Shelby and Gale Davis challenged Pearson College and each of the 15 UWC schools worldwide by offering up to $1 million US in matching funds for charitable donations from individuals. But to unlock the match, Pearson College must increase the total number of individual donors over last year.

We have until July 31 to increase our community of donors in order to unlock the $1 million match. All matching funds directly support scholarships for future students who will benefit from UWC’s unique education. Thank you very much to everyone who has already stepped forward to give us a tremendous boost! We look forward to sharing the outcome in the coming months.


Under the leadership of Pearson Alum Benoît Charlebois (Year 9/1984, Canada-QC), Pearson’s Community & Stakeholder Engagement program will be expanding to provide richer connections for our talented and passionate alumni. There will be more on-campus opportunities such as an Alumni-in-residence program, Speakers’ bureau, and weekend rental opportunities, off-campus connections around mentorship, career networking and organizing around shared causes, and virtual activities which will bring the alumni to the campus (e.g. for Global Affairs sessions) and the campus to the Alumni. Please contact Alumni Relations and Engagement Officer Julia Norman for more information.


One of my key goals since taking on the role of Head of College has been to ensure that Pearson College’s learning environment aligns with the UWC mission and with key innovations in experiential education.

Working Group on Education
In May, I formed the Working Group on Education to advise on how we can deepen:

  • Coherence within and across our curriculum and co-curriculum programs
  • Opportunities for shared learning and collaboration among faculty and students
  • Clarity and intentionality in aligning our educational program with our over-arching UWC mission and values

One of the Working Group’s main recommendations has been to create a new space for collaborative shared learning within the on-campus community, i.e. across and among faculty, students, staff, residents and volunteers.

The goal of the shared learning space is to foster more experiential learning opportunities, to promote greater inter-disciplinary collaboration and to empower students to work collaboratively with each other and with faculty and staff.

Pearson’s New Study on Experiential Education
This spring, we engaged Johannah Bernstein (an international educator and international lawyer based in Switzerland) to explore how we can deepen experiential education in both our curricular and co-curricular programs.

Johannah spent 10 weeks at Pearson – interviewing faculty, staff and students as well as actively participating in all aspects of living and learning at the College both inside and outside the classroom (learning labs, workshop facilitation, mentorship, Theory of Knowledge planning and advising, etc.). Building on this work, she is currently conducting in-depth interviews with Heads and educators at other UWCs as well as leading organizations in education around the world.

The outcome will be an interactive guide for Pearson (and other UWC and IB schools around the world) to deepen experiential education within both the IB curriculum and all the co-curricular components that characterize the UWC educational model. At its core however, the study will advise Pearson on how we can improve our approach to experiential education to ensure that the College improves our alignment with:

  • UWC mission and core values
  • Experiential education best practices at UWC schools and academic institutions around the world
  • UWC’s overall strategic goal to empower students to be impactful change-makers for a peaceful and sustainable future

Stay tuned for details of the exciting developments in Pearson’s Education program, which I will be sharing over the next months.

We will be taking up many of these issues at a plenary panel I’ve been asked to coordinate at the upcoming UWC Congress.

The Next Few Weeks

My family – including our new addition in September – and I are all tremendously excited to settle in to our new home at Pearson, enjoying the idyllic setting on the shores of Pedder Bay and meeting the new challenges and opportunities ahead.

While preparing for the coming year, I will be off campus until 15 August. In the meantime, I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy time and look forward to many adventures together over the coming year.

I may be offline, but Pearson College never sleeps, so be sure to visit us on our social media channels and keep up with all the latest Pearson news. And, be sure to watch for your electronic version of the Pearson Times, coming in the next few weeks. 

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