Change in Leadership at the UWC International Office
Dear members and friends of the UWC movement,
We are writing to you today to inform you that Jens Waltermann has tendered his resignation as Executive Director after serving the UWC movement in this role for the past six years. Jens will remain in post until the end of June 2021 to ensure a smooth transition.
Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, Chair of the UWC International Board, commented: “The UWC International Board has accepted Jens’ resignation with great regret and respect. During my time as Chair of the Board, Jens and I have worked very closely together. Over the past six years, the UWC movement has overcome many challenges and reached great heights. While there is still much work to do, Jens’ leadership has contributed greatly to meeting our strategic goals and strengthening UWC’s position in international education for peace. I have highly appreciated his drive, his dedication to UWC and to our common mission, his professionalism and - importantly - his personal integrity. As we now move forward to the next chapter, on behalf of the UWC International Board and the other members of the UWC International governance, I want to thank Jens for his immense contribution to the UWC movement and wish him the very best for his future.”
The UWC International Board will take responsibility for the succession process.
Below, you can read Jens’ letter to the UWC community which also highlights some of the important developments the UWC movement has seen during the time of his tenure.
With many thanks for your continued support of the UWC movement.
Letter from Jens Waltermann, Executive Director of UWC International, to the UWC Community:
Dear UWC Community,
I am writing today to let you know that after six wonderful, inspiring, successful and very challenging years as Executive Director of UWC International I have tendered my resignation to the UWC International Board.
The past six years have seen significant growth of the UWC movement: from fourteen to eighteen UWC schools, from 140 to 155 national committees and from 300 to 1000 short course participants. We now also have an almost even balance of schools in Europe and Asia, and have expanded to East Africa. The partnerships we have built over this period - from UNHCR and Teach For All to the EU and RISE, and not to forget the Davis Philanthropies as our long-standing partner - have allowed us to reach even further: to students, who would have never dared to dream of a UWC education.
We have moved in a common direction laid out in the UWC Strategy 2018 and Beyond. Together with thousands of national committee volunteers, we have strengthened the national committees’ capacity and role in the UWC movement. We have brought the Board Chairs of our schools much closer together and built the UWC Hub as a platform for our 60,000 alumni across the globe. Most of all, this journey has been about our students: I have been most inspired by them. And we must continue to trust them, for trust inspires responsibility. And despite financial challenges we must defend the diversity of our UWC students: seeking young people from all cultures, ethnicities, beliefs and backgrounds to come together and to build bridges across the deepening socio-economic divides we see globally.
Besides celebrating successes we have also faced adversity: COVID-19 hit UWC hard, and although we have been able to manage this crisis better than I could have hoped back in the spring of last year, it is not over yet. So far, UWC Heads have been able to maintain educational opportunities for most of our students and all schools have remained financially stable, but reserves have been depleted in many schools and we cannot be certain what 2021 will bring. I want to thank all the great educators and staff at our schools and colleges for their resilience and relentless support to the students - and I want to thank all the national committee volunteers who have helped bring students home and back into schools under the most difficult circumstances.
The Black Lives Matter protests, meanwhile, brought home to all of us that issues of race remain unresolved not just in US police departments but also at UWC. There is much work ahead for us all to make sure that every student – no matter what colour – feels that they belong, that they have role models and that their narrative has its place at the heart of UWC.
The past six years have been challenging, sometimes exceptionally so. Part of the role of Executive Director of UWC International is to hold a highly diverse UWC movement and its independent entities together - in spirit and in practice. Nonetheless, it has been a privilege and an honour to serve UWC. I meant it when I said that I felt incredibly lucky to be paid for doing what I love - together with a wonderful and strong team at the UWC International Office, who I am deeply grateful to.
After six years it is time for me to step aside. But I can assure you that UWC International remains in good hands with Musimbi Kanyoro as our Board Chair and Quique Bassat as Chair of the UWC International Council. They are committed to keeping UWC on the path we have been on together.
As a UWC alumnus, turned national committee volunteer and college founder, turned Executive Director, you will know that the past six years have not just been a ‘job’ for me and that my UWC journey does not end. I remain deeply dedicated to a movement that has shaped me and that I had the privilege to be able to shape a little bit in return.
Executive Director, UWC International
Pearson College UWC, 1983-1985