Important Message from the Board of Trustees and I-House President
Dear International House Community,
We hope you are all well and safe.
We wanted to update you with some news about Calvin Sims: He has accepted an offer to return to the world of journalism, where he will oversee news standards, ethics and procedures at a major news media organization across all platforms. As he told us, this is one of those opportunities he couldn’t turn down, and that while I-House is a very difficult place to leave, one compensating feature of this new job is its international scope and dedication to understand all countries and cultures.
This August marks Calvin’s seventh year as President and CEO of International House. During that time, under his leadership, I-House has made significant progress: Our programming and opportunities for residents have been expanded and enriched, we have renewed our historic buildings, reorganized our staff, and found new ways to showcase the organization and engage alumni and friends. These changes are not a reinvention of I-House – which has remained vibrant and strong since 1924 – but a renaissance built on the solid foundation and legacy of this remarkable institution.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our applications were up, enrollment at full capacity, with more than 700 residents from 90 countries and 80 institutions, including the Obama Columbia Scholars, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Graduate Fellows, and the Asian Cultural Council Fellows. And despite the operational challenges of COVID-19, the House remains in good health with our strong endowment, and continued investments in our infrastructure.
This is a difficult time for organizations which, like ours, are intertwined with schools and universities, and there are some challenges ahead. Fortunately, Calvin has built a strong team that is very much engaged in meeting that challenge.
We are grateful for his multiple contributions and will miss his leadership, perspective, and friendship. We also want to acknowledge Calvin’s wife and I-House’s First Lady, Patricia Baptiste, for being such an integral part of the I-House community. We will miss her warm smile, intelligence and open heart.
As we map out a plan to fill Calvin’s shoes, he will stay on for several months to support the transition, and we will keep you posted on our progress. We hope you will see this moment as an opportunity to renew our commitment – once the pandemic recedes – to reopen the South Building, fill the House with residents, and inspire the life-long qualities of empathy, respect, and moral courage.
Frank G. Wisner
Chair, Board of Trustees
Peter O’Neill ’92
Chair, Executive Committee
Board of Trustees
Our Board Chair, Frank Wisner and Executive Committee Chair, Peter O’Neill have shared with you the news of my upcoming departure from International House. If you missed that message you can see it here. I will be stepping down by year’s end to return to the world of journalism, where I will oversee news standards, ethics at procedures at a major news media organization across all platforms.
What an honor and privilege it has been for me to lead this remarkable institution which for nearly a century has stood as a shining example of international harmony and peace. The true measure of our impact is that our residents carry this experience and our values with them for the rest of their lives — wherever they are in the world.
International House has been a wonderful professional experience as well as my community and home to my family: my wife Patricia and my son Marcel, who has grown up here. I am grateful to have shared this experience—the traditions, the diverse community, and the celebrations—with them. Our Alumni have showed me that International House is a lifelong community, and we will carry the light with us as you have.
I am deeply grateful to the staff, whose professionalism, dedication, and hard work make I-House so remarkable, and also to the trustees who do so much to enable and support the staff, the residents, and our shared mission. I am also grateful to you, the Alumni, who have amplified our work across the world and been so supportive of the House. Thank you for your continued engagement with International House.
In closing, I leave you with a passage from a New York Times essay on International House, shortly after we opened our doors in 1924:
“Across from International House is Grant’s Tomb with the motto ‘Let Us Have Peace’ – a peace imposed by force. And at The Hague, there rises a palace built by Andrew Carnegie, which is consecrated to peace, a peace dictated by justice. But here in International House, the nations are learning to practice a peace won neither by battle nor by argument but evolved by mutual respect.”
It has been a pleasure to serve you and to build on your legacy, and I look forward to keeping in touch.