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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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Meet Mzwakithi Shongwe, '12, who came to UWC-USA from Swaziland.


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mailing address:  post office box 248,  Montezuma NM 87731-0248  USA

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UWC-USA is one of 17 UWCs on five continents. Other countries that have UWCs include Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Swaziland, Thailand, and Wales.


UWC-USA students perform more than 18,700 hours of service every year through our association with 25 community partners. More than 2,500 people in Las Vegas, N.M. and the surrounding community have benefited from service projects led by UWC-USA students.


UWC-USA has 228 students representing more than 70 countries, from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Eleven students come from countries identified as conflict regions. Representation within our student body includes: Africa 10%, Asia 28%, Europe 29%, North America 23%, South America 10%.


Students don’t apply directly to the school; they are selected by committees in their home countries based on academic achievement, leadership, and curiosity about and involvement with global events and cultures.


Philanthropist Shelby Davis has created a $40 million endowment that provides 50 U.S. students with full scholarships to attend a UWC every year.


Our more than 3,357 UWC-USA alumni are spread across the globe: North America 26%, Latin America and Caribbean 16%, Africa 10%, Middle East 6%, Asia 14%, Europe 21%, Pacific 2%


UWC-USA offers the International Baccalaureate diploma program. Students can choose from IB classes in 28 subjects – a remarkable number given the size of the school.

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