Edward Waters College

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Edward Waters College
Motto in English
Emerging Eminence
TypePrivate, HBCU
Established1866 (Institute)
1883 (High School)
1955 (Junior College)
1979 (College)
Religious affiliation
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Endowment$1.8 million
ChairmanAdam J. Richardson
PresidentA. Zachary Faison, Jr.
ProvostDonna H. Oliver
Location, ,
30°20′43″N 81°41′05″W / 30.3453°N 81.6847°W / 30.3453; -81.6847Coordinates: 30°20′43″N 81°41′05″W / 30.3453°N 81.6847°W / 30.3453; -81.6847
CampusUrban, 23 acres
ColorsPurple, Orange and White
NicknameTigers and Lady Tigers

Edward Waters College is a private historically black college in Jacksonville, Florida. It was founded in 1866 by members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church) as a school to educate freedmen and their children. It was the first independent institution of higher education and the first historically black college in the State of Florida. It continues to be affiliated with the AME Church, and is a member of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

Image of Bishop Edward Waters


The AME Church was the first independent black denomination in the United States and was founded in 1816 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the Civil War, it sent numerous missionaries to the South to plant AME churches. The first African Methodist Episcopal pastor in the state, William G. Steward, originally named the college Brown Theological Institute. L Charles H. Pearce was also involved in establishing an educational institution for the AME church in Jacksonville.

Struggling with some financial difficulties, the school closed for much of the 1870s. It reopened in 1883 as "East Florida Conference High School”, then changed to “East Florida Scientific and Divinity High School.” Over the next ten years, the curriculum was expanded. In 1892, the school was renamed for Edward Waters, the third bishop of the AME Church.[1]

Drawing of John R. Scott and students.

A drawing of 1893 shows that the College President at that time was John R. Scott, Sr., first pastor of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church of Jacksonville, and a former member of the Florida Legislature.[2]

The original Edward Waters College campus was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901. By 1904 the college obtained new land and work was started on the new facility. Edward Waters was accredited as a junior college in 1955 under President William B. Stewart and five years later had a restored four-year curriculum. Beginning in 1979 the school was accredited as a four-year institution by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and started awarding bachelor's degrees.


Edward Waters College offers bachelor's degrees in eight academic programs including the following: Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Music, Psychology, or Criminal Justice; Bachelor of Science in Biology, Elementary Education or Mathematics; and Bachelor of Business Administration.[3]


Beginning in 1979, Edward Waters College (EWC) was accredited as a four-year institution by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC) and was recently fully reaffirmed in 2015.

In 2004, Edward Waters College had submitted documents to SACS to support their request for reaccreditation. A Florida Times-Union investigation in October discovered that the EWC documents plagiarized sections of text and statistics from a similar Alabama A&M University document. The Commission on Colleges voted to drop EWC from membership in SACS, thus revoking the school's accreditation, but the school appealed.[4] A hearing was held in Atlanta during February 2005, and the appeal by Edward Waters College was denied.

The school filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction during litigation, which a federal judge granted.[5] The judge ruled that the college could show they were denied due process, and appointed two mediators.[6] In June, the college and SACS agreed to a settlement that allowed the school to remain accredited while re-filing their accreditation documentation.[7] The college's accreditation was reaffirmed in 2006.


Centennial Hall
Jax FL Centennial Hall01.jpg
Edward Waters College is located in Florida
Edward Waters College
Edward Waters College is located in the United States
Edward Waters College
Location1658 Kings Rd., Jacksonville, Florida
Coordinates30°20′42″N 81°41′04″W / 30.3450°N 81.6844°W / 30.3450; -81.6844
Arealess than one acre
ArchitectHowells & Stokes
NRHP reference No.76000589[8]
Added to NRHPMay 4, 1976

Historic facilities[edit]

Centennial Hall[edit]

Centennial Hall, which contains the Obi-Scott-Umunna Collection of African Art, is the oldest building on campus. Built in 1916, it was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976.[8] It was designed by Richard Lewis Brown, Jacksonville's first known black architect.[9]

The Centennial Hall building contains the Edward Waters College Library which, was relocated from the H. Y. Tookes Building in 1979. The library also contains art and artifacts from central and West Africa.[10]


  • Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, served as president from 1997 to 2005 and was credited with increasing enrollment and raising standards at the school.
  • Dr. Oswald P. Bronson, former president of Bethune-Cookman College, served as interim president while a presidential search committee took two years to select a new leader.[11]
  • Dr. Claudette Williams became the first female president of Edward Waters in 2007. She resigned in February 2010 to assume a position as a vice president with the accreditation organization, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[12]
  • Nat Glover became EWC's 29th president on February 12, 2011. He retired in May 2018.
  • Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr. is the 30th President of Edward Waters College and took office in July 2018.


Edward Waters athletic teams are known as the Tigers and Lady Tigers. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I level, primarily competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). The Tigers formerly competed in The Sun Conference, formerly known as the Florida Sun Conference (FSC). For football only, the Tigers participated in The Sun Conference for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and have joined the Mid-South Conference's Sun Division beginning in the 2017 season.[13] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, softball, track & field and volleyball.

In 2019, the college received a membership invitation to join the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), a historic HBCU athletic conference playing at the NCAA Division II level.[14] Although still holding active membership in the NAIA, EWC has a scheduling agreement with the SIAC to play SIAC opponents in non-conference competition.[14] Edward Waters was a member of the conference from 1929 to 1935.[15] Following the invitation, the college plans to apply for NCAA Division II membership and begin the multi-year transition process to become a full postseason-eligible member of the NCAA and SIAC.[15]

The college broke ground on a permanent on-campus football facility in February 2020. The team previously played at local high schools. The new facility is planned to meet NCAA specifications as part of the athletic development process associated with the move to Division II.[16]

Marching band[edit]

Edward Waters' marching band is officially known as the "Triple Threat Marching Band." The band was established in 2001 and has twice received an invitation to the Honda Battle of the Bands in 2009 and 2013. The marching band has also been invited to perform at halftime for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.[17]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davis, Ennis: "Edward Waters College", Metro Jacksonville, May 17, 2010
  2. ^ "President John R. Scott of Edward Waters College and students". State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. 1893. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Academic Programs". Edward Waters College. Archived from the original on 2014-02-13. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  4. ^ "Edward Waters Loses Accreditation After Plagiarism Scandal". Associated Press. 2004-12-30.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Edward Waters College Loses Accreditation Appeal, Files Lawsuit". Associated Press. 2005-03-24. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08.
  6. ^ "Edward Waters College gains a victory in court". Associated Press. 2005-03-18.
  7. ^ "Edward Waters Reaches Settlement To Keep Accreditation". News4Jax. 2005-06-03. Archived from the original on 2009-09-04.
  8. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  9. ^ Guthrie, Ana (2012). "The History of Florida's Four FBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) Libraries". Florida Libraries. 55 (2): 38.
  10. ^ Guthrie, Ana (Fall 2012). "The History of Florida's Four FBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) Libraries". Florida Libraries. 55 (2): 38–42.
  11. ^ "Oswald Bronson Named Interim President of Edward Waters College". Associated Press. 2005-02-24.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Dr. Claudette Williams Resigns as President of Edward Waters College". HBCU Digest. 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2010-03-01.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Wilson, Michael (25 February 2016). "Local teams officially join Mid-South football conference". The Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  14. ^ a b St. Cyr, Jamal (July 9, 2019). "Edward Waters College invited to join SIAC". News4Jax. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  15. ^ a b Freeman, Clayton (July 9, 2019). "Edward Waters plans to join NCAA Division II". The Florida Times-Union. MSN. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  16. ^ Freeman, Clayton (January 27, 2020). "Edward Waters to break ground on new field Feb. 5". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-12-27. Retrieved 2015-12-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Meet the candidate: Reggie Brown". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved Oct 15, 2020.
  19. ^ Harper, Frederick Douglas (Feb 24, 2020). The Stories. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781796089431. Retrieved Oct 15, 2020 – via Google Books.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]