History & Leadership
The legal name of the New Mexico campus is the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West in honor of Dr. Armand Hammer, who founded the institution in 1982.
Hammer loved a challenge. When Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and the first President of UWC International, wondered out loud how Hammer might succeed in founding a UWC in the United States when others before him had failed, Hammer was confident. “I’d be happy to help you,” he told Mountbatten and His Royal Highness Prince Charles in 1978.
Within two years, Hammer had purchased the Montezuma site for $1 million. “The castle’s roof was a maze of holes,” he wrote in his autobiography. “The grounds were completely overgrown, and we walked around them with mud up to our ankles. Nonetheless, my mind was made up immediately. This was the place.”
Hammer, who had lived through two world wars, truly believed in the UWC mission. “If 17-year-olds all around the world could share that dream [of a world without war] and act upon it in their adult lives, they might become ushers to an age of peace on Earth,” he said.
Hammer’s generosity and faith in youth have transformed the lives of more than 3,000 UWC-USA alumni—and the countless communities around the world those alumni have since touched.
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