Pearson College UWC

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Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific
Pearson College UWC
The Pearson College UWC logo
Metchosin (Victoria), British Columbia (BC)
Coordinates 48°20′48″N 123°33′51″W / 48.34667°N 123.56417°W / 48.34667; -123.56417Coordinates: 48°20′48″N 123°33′51″W / 48.34667°N 123.56417°W / 48.34667; -123.56417
Type International Baccalaureate World School
Motto Making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future
Established 1974
Principal Désirée McGraw
Enrollment 180
Publication Pearson Times

The Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific (Pearson College UWC) is one of seventeen[1] United World Colleges (UWC) around the world. It is named after the late Canadian Prime Minister Lester Bowles Pearson, winner of the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, and an early champion of the College. The mission of the UWC movement and of the school is to "make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future". The college follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum, covering the final year of high school and a pre-university year for up to 100 students a year, hailing from nearly 90 countries.[2]

The college was opened to students in September 1974. An official opening the following year was attended by Lord Mountbatten, Jean Chretien, and Charles, Prince of Wales.[3]

The current President and Head of College is Désirée McGraw, appointed in April 2015. McGraw formerly was President of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation, and a former advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada. Former Head and Director from 2006 to 2015 was David Hawley who is now Chief Academic Officer of the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO).


Lester B. Pearson, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Prime Minister of Canada, was the driving force behind the founding of Pearson College. After retiring from public life, Pearson became interested in the United World Colleges movement. At that time, only one United World College existed — Atlantic College in Wales, established in 1962. Pearson visited Atlantic College in 1969 and there, met with students and faculty. He came away convinced that there must be more such colleges around the world and, in particular, one on Canada's west coast. He envisioned that:

“Students will be welcomed without regard to race, religion or politics and we intend to establish scholarships so that the students who attend the College will be from all levels of society and will be genuine representatives of their own peoples. This system … could become a revolutionary force in international education.”

Lester B. Pearson became Honorary Chairman of a committee formed to build what was to be known as the College of the Pacific. He worked tirelessly in the early days of the planning process, but died in December 1972, just as the project was getting underway. Soon after his death, it was decided that the College would be renamed Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific as a living memorial to his legacy. The Hon. John L. Nichol, CC, was chosen as initial Chairman of the Board of Trustees and a major fundraising effort began, with over $4 million raised—83% coming from individuals, corporations and foundations across Canada and around the world, and the remaining 17% from governments around the world. Ground broke on the college's construction on Sep. 25, 1973.

Over the next year, Jack Matthews, the founding director of the College, recruited a faculty of men and women from around the globe, and on Sep. 25, 1974, the inaugural cohort of 100 students arrived. Since then, up to 200 students have attended each year. Pearson College continues to be funded through individuals, alumni, corporations, foundations, select provincial and local governments in Canada and some UWC donors.

Today, more than 4,000 students have graduated from Pearson College UWC. Alumni, including several Rhodes Scholars, and they work in a variety of professions in every corner of the world.

Academics and administration[edit]

Walkway leading to East House, one of Pearson College's residential buildings

The College's main academic curriculum follows the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme – Pearson was the first school in Canada to adopt the Diploma Program. Students are also required to participate in community-oriented services, cultural activities, and sport events. A highlight of the academic year is the professional dance, music and cultural show, "One World", led by a talented backstage crew and attracting thousands of audience members from Victoria and the surrounding communities.

Marine Science Laboratory at Pearson College


Students must be selected by their respective UWC National Committees based on their merit, promise and potential. Each of the more than 150 National Committees makes recommendations for admission to the College independently, and according to their individual selection procedures. Admission is thus extremely competitive, and reaches across a broad spectrum of socioeconomic diversity. Sponsorship for these scholarships comes from a mixture of organisations, governments and private donors.


Floating Building – Pearson College UWC

The College is located on the shores of Pedder Bay, near Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, located within the traditional territory of the Beecher Bay (Scia'new) First Nation. The College provides a suitable location for the study of the environment, due to the surrounding woodlands and the nearby Race Rocks Marine Protected Area, an ecological conservation area maintained by the College, which appoints an eco guardian, in partnership with BC Parks, the Canadian Coast Guard and several other committed parties.

There are 5 residential houses that house all students of the College and some faculty members. All student houses are mixed gender, with boys on one floor and girls on the other, and students live in shared rooms of 4 to 5 people. The campus includes a large dining area, indoor swimming pools and fitness facility, a modern theatre-style lecture facility as well as "traditional" classrooms and a floating marine sciences building.

The College's proximity to Pedder Bay allows a broad range of waterfront program offerings. A fleet of sail boats, kayaks, canoes, and Scuba diving equipment are also stored on the docks and in the floating marine sciences building.


View from the Director's Lawn of the College. In the distance are the Olympic Mountains.

Recent graduates have placed in some of the world's top universities, and some alumni are have become notable leaders in human rights, international development, business, law, science and other fields.[4] The most common university destinations for recent students after graduation were, in order, McGill University, the University of Toronto, and Harvard University.[5] Other schools that frequently matriculate graduates of the program include The University of Oxford, Brown, and Princeton.

Seventeen graduating students have been selected as Loran Scholars,[6] the highest number of any single secondary school. After leaving the college, thirteen students have gone on to win Rhodes Scholarships, the highest per-capita rate of Rhodes Scholars of any secondary school in the world. After graduation, students are eligible to participate in the Shelby Davis Scholarship programme, which funds undergraduate study based on need at select American universities. The 160 students who comprised the graduating classes of 2014 and 2015 were collectively awarded $12.5 million in scholarships.[7]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Schools like no other | United World Colleges". Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  2. ^ "Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  3. ^ "Pearson College UWC - Canada's school for students of exceptional promise and potential worldwide". Retrieved 2016-07-31. 
  4. ^ "Alumni Universities". Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific. Retrieved September 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Loran Scholars: Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific". Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved April 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ "Pearson College UWC - Pearson College UWC — Canada's School, 2016 Brochure - Page 14-15 - Created with". Retrieved 2016-07-31. 
  8. ^ "Douglas Alexander: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  9. ^ "Maldives ex-president Mohamed Nasheed was 'forced out'". BBC News Online. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  10. ^ "The Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross - The Bishop". Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  11. ^ .Astrup, Soren; Egelund, Rikke; Astrup, Elisabeth (2008-09-09). "Enstemmig opbakning til Espersen" (in Danish). Politiken. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  12. ^ "Peter Sands: The banker who’s still smiling". The Sunday Times. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  13. ^ "Books By Alumni". Alumni Lists. Pearson College. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  14. ^ "Professor Federico Varese". University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 Dec 2013. 

External links[edit]