Edward Waters College is a private, historically black college whose future is lined with pride, growth and success. Edward Waters College, the oldest private institution of higher education in the state of Florida, was founded in 1866 specifically to educate newly freed slaves.
Located on the Kings Road corridor, in close proximity to downtown Jacksonville, FL, Edward Waters College continues to build upon its solid foundation of teaching, research and community outreach. Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., the college increased its enrollment of a little over 300 students in 1997 to over 1,300 students. Approximately 51% of the student body is male, 49% female, and over 90% of the students rely on financial aid. The College has also expanded its land and is still growing, and because of this growth, the College was highlighted in The Florida Leader Magazine ”The Best of Florida Schools 2004” for the ”Biggest Growth for Private Colleges”. The Music and Fine Arts Department was also featured as the ”Best Music for Private Colleges” which highlighted the world renowned EWC Choir and the Triple Threat Marching Band.
Edward Waters College continues under the leadership of President Dr. Oswald P. Bronson, Sr., the 27th president who took the helm June 2005 after serving as interim president since February 2005. He brings over 35 years of leadership experience and continues the legacy of academic excellence and institutional pride through the DOUBLE E PRINCIPLE: EXCELLENCE AND ETHICS.
Edward Waters College was initially named ”Brown Theological Institute” by Rev. William G. Steward, the first AME pastor in the state. The school experienced some financial difficulties and was forced to close for nearly a decade. In 1883, the school reopened under the name of ”East Florida Conference High School” and later, ”East Florida Scientific and Divinity High School”. Within a decade, the educational program was extended and the school´s name was changed to Edward Waters College in honor of the third bishop of the AME church.
Through the years, the College has withstood the test. After being destroyed by fire in 1901, the College acquired the current site in 1904 and began to rebuild Edward Waters College. The school was first accredited as a junior college in 1955 under President William B. Stewart and by 1960, the College had restored its four-year curriculum. In 1979, SACS accredited the College as a four-year institution. Football returned in 2001 after a 34-year absence with the program becoming a championship team. The Tigers were named 2004 SEAC Champions. Along with football, the marching band returned. The Triple Threat Marching Band has continued to make waves and has performed during half time for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Purple Thunder Dance Squad, the group of plus-sized ladies who perform with the band, was highlighted in ”The Best of Florida Schools 2005” as the ”Best Non Traditional Dance Squad”. The Lady Tigers Basketball Team claimed its second EIAC Championship in 2005 as well as the Tigers Volleyball Team. The Baseball and Softball teams also clinched the 2005 EIAC Region 14 Championship.
To help with community revitalization, the College is building the Edward Waters College Community Sports and Music Center. The Center measures approximately 50,000 square feet and is an 1,800 seat facility with classrooms, concession stands, offices, and will house the Music and Fine Arts suites. The Center, which will be completed in October 2005, is part of the Edward Waters College Athletic Complex that will consist of the 10,000 seat Tiger Stadium and the Aqua Sports Center with an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Today the College stands as a beacon of hope for many young people who might otherwise not have an opportunity to enter higher education. Edward Waters College prepares students for careers in teaching, technology, research, religion, politics and other leading fields of today and in the future. Edward Waters College continues to shine as a ”rising star” in northeast Florida.