Five UWCs Appoint New Heads But Questions Still Linger

by the Flying Dutchman,
March 7th, 2018

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In anticipation of the upcoming academic year, five UWC colleges have announced the appointment of new Heads who indeed seem qualified for their positions, but questions around the diversity of our leadership still linger.  
We provide you a summary of the new Head of Colleges:
Soraya Sayed Hassen

UWC Mahindra College in India recently announced the appointment of Soraya Sayed Hassen as Interim Head of the College, for a period of one year beginning in August 2018. Soraya is a well-established member of the community at UWC Mahindra College, where she currently acts as Deputy Head – Education & Learning. Prior to joining UWC three years ago, Soraya worked as an educator in Mauritius and Australia. Soraya brings more than 16 years of experience as an educational professional, at both the secondary and tertiary levels, to the role of Interim Head.
Gabriel Abad Fernández
Another current staff member of UWC has also been promoted to the position of Head: After 16 years of service at UWC South East Asia in Singapore, most recently as the Director of Boarding at UWCSEA’s East Campus, Gabriel Abad Fernández will replace current Interim Head Denise Davidson as Head of UWC Dilijan in Armenia. Originally from Málaga, Spain, Gabriel also brings with him several years of experience in education: in addition to his work at UWCSEA, he has also taken active roles in the education sector more broadly, as a member of the Council of International Schools and the International Baccalaureate Educators Network.

Pelham Lindfield Roberts
Leaving UWC Mahindra College but not leaving the UWC movement, Pelham Lindfield Roberts will take the helm as Principal at UWC Changshu China upon the retirement of Principal Robert Clarence. Pelham is well-known within the UWC movement for his time teaching at UWC Atlantic College in Wales, and for his current service as Head of UWC Mahindra College, a role he has held for the last five years. Between his positions at UWC, Pelham held Headships at international schools in the United States, South Africa and at Salem International College in Germany (part of Schule Schloss Salem, the first school founded by Kurt Hahn).

Guđmundur Hegner Jónsson
On 9 February, UWC Red Cross Nordic announced the selection of Guđmundur Hegner Jónsson as its new Rektor. Guđmundur will take the place of current Rektor Richard Lamont, who is leaving UWC RCN after six years of dedicated service to the College. Originally from Iceland, Guđmundur joins UWC Red Cross Nordic from his current position as Headmaster of the secondary school section of an international college in the United Arab Emirates, previously having worked in international schools in China, Serbia, and Italy.

Mark Feltham
The most recent appointment comes for UWC Mostar, which announced on 26 February that Mark Feltham will replace Valentina Mindoljević as Head beginning in July 2018. Originally from Australia, Mr. Feltham has taught at schools in both Australia and the UK and served as a school governor in London.

It is good to see that UWC continues to pick new Head of Colleges who do indeed seem qualified to assume their office, but by simply looking at pictures, it seems that the question of whether UWC neglects its own aim of “ensur[ing] increased diversity throughout the UWC governance structure” outlined in the new “UWC 2018 and Beyond” strategy under the action point “Govern” (Point 1.6 of section “C – Govern) still lingers.
Recent developments from the UWC International Office – perhaps caused by the article “Our Leadership Lacks Diversity” which we published last month – have, however, made us confident that the IO is taking steps to address this issue. Jesper Damberg, TFD writer and author of the piece, was recently contacted by the International Office in response to the article. The IO responded that the Nominating and Governance Committee of the UWC International Board wishes to prepare a proposal for a monitoring tool regarding the diversity of leadership positions, and that they would like Jespers and the Flying Dutchman’s input. It is promising to see that our movement responds so progressively to critical discussions. We believe that some change was sparked.