Edward Waters College is a private college in Jacksonville, Florida. It was founded in 1866 to educate freed former slaves and is the oldest historically black college in Florida. It is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and is part of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.
The first African Methodist Episcopal (AME) 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 church.
The school went through some financial difficulties and 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 and the school was renamed for the third bishop of the AME Church, Edward Waters.
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 member of the Florida Legislature.
The original Edward Waters College campus was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901, but by 1904 new land was obtained 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.
In 2004, Edward Waters College 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. A hearing was held in Atlanta during February 2005, and the appeal by Edward Waters College was denied. The school then filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction during litigation, which a federal judge granted. The judge stated that the college could show they were denied due process, and appointed two mediators. In June, the college and SACS agreed to a settlement that allowed the school to remain accredited while re-filing their accreditation documentation. The college's accreditation was reaffirmed in 2006.
|Location||1658 Kings Rd., Jacksonville, Florida|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||Howells & Stokes|
|NRHP reference #||76000589|
|Added to NRHP||May 4, 1976|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 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. It was designed by Richard Lewis Brown, Jacksonville’s first known black architect.
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. 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.
Edward Water's marching band is officially known as the "Triple Threat Marching Band." The band was established in 2001 and has won an invite to the Honda Battle of the Bands in 2009 and 2013. The marching band was also invited to perform at halftime for the Jacksonville Jaguars.