Edward Waters University
Administration building
Former names
Brown Theological Institute Institute (1866–1870s)
East Florida Conference High School (1883–1880s)
East Florida Scientific and Divinity High School (1880s–1892)
Edward Waters College (1892–1955; 1960–2021)
Edward Waters Junior College (1955–1960)
Motto in English
Emerging Eminence
TypePrivate historically Black university
Religious affiliation
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Endowment$1.8 million
ChairmanAdam J. Richardson
PresidentA. Zachary Faison, Jr.
ProvostGenyne H. Boston
Students1,181 (Fall 2022)
Location, ,

30°20′43″N 81°41′05″W / 30.3453°N 81.6847°W / 30.3453; -81.6847
CampusUrban, 23 acres (9.3 ha)
Colors      Purple, orange, white
NicknameTigers and Lady Tigers
Sporting affiliations

Edward Waters University is a private Christian historically Black university 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. 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 University 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 University 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 University (EWU) was accredited as a four-year institution by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC).

In 2004, Edward Waters University had submitted documents to SACS to support their request for reaccreditation. A Florida Times-Union investigation in October discovered that the EWU documents plagiarized sections of text and statistics from a similar Alabama A&M University document. The Commission on Colleges voted to drop EWU 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 University 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 university's accreditation was reaffirmed in 2006.


Centennial Hall
Edward Waters University is located in Florida
Edward Waters University
Edward Waters University is located in the United States
Edward Waters University
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

Centennial Hall

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 University 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]



The Edward Waters athletic teams are called the Tigers and the Lady Tigers. The university is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) as a provisional member since the 2021–22 academic year; which they were a member on a previous stint from 1930–31 to 1934–35.[15]

Prior joining the NCAA, The Tigers previously competed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 2010–11 to 2020–21 (with an associate transitional membership period for competing in conference championships during the 2021–22 school year); and in the Sun Conference (formerly known as the Florida Sun Conference (FSC) until after the 2007–08 school year) from 2006–07 to 2009–10. For football only, Edward Waters participated in The Sun Conference for the 2014 and 2015 fall seasons, and would later join the Mid-South Conference's Sun Division from the 2017 to 2020 fall seasons.[16]

Edward Waters competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball; and co-ed sports include competitive cheerleading.

Move to NCAA Division II

In 2019, the university received a membership invitation to join the SIAC, a historic HBCU athletic conference playing at the NCAA Division II level.[17] Although still holding active membership in the NAIA, EWU has a scheduling agreement with the SIAC to play SIAC opponents in non-conference competition.[17] 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 the SIAC.[15]

The university 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.[18]

Marching band

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.[19]

Notable people

See also


  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 February 20, 2018.
  3. ^ "Academic Programs". Edward Waters College. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "Edward Waters Loses Accreditation After Plagiarism Scandal". Associated Press. December 30, 2004.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Edward Waters College Loses Accreditation Appeal, Files Lawsuit". Associated Press. March 24, 2005. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013.
  6. ^ "Edward Waters College gains a victory in court". Associated Press. March 18, 2005.
  7. ^ "Edward Waters Reaches Settlement To Keep Accreditation". News4Jax. June 3, 2005. Archived from the original on September 4, 2009.
  8. ^ a b "National Register Information System – (#76000589)". 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. February 24, 2005.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Dr. Claudette Williams Resigns as President of Edward Waters College". HBCU Digest. February 26, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Coleman, Matt. "Nat Glover takes over as head of Edward Waters College". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  14. ^ Amos, Denise. "Edward Waters College picks new president". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Freeman, Clayton (July 9, 2019). "Edward Waters plans to join NCAA Division II". The Florida Times-Union. MSN. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  16. ^ Wilson, Michael (February 25, 2016). "Local teams officially join Mid-South football conference". The Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  17. ^ a b St. Cyr, Jamal (July 9, 2019). "Edward Waters College invited to join SIAC". News4Jax. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  18. ^ Freeman, Clayton (January 27, 2020). "Edward Waters to break ground on new field Feb. 5". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  19. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  20. ^ "The Founders".
  21. ^ "Meet the candidate: Reggie Brown". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  22. ^ Harper, Frederick Douglas (February 24, 2020). The Stories. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781796089431. Retrieved October 15, 2020 – via Google Books.

Further reading