It’s possible 2021 may have been the most transformative year in the 155-year history of Florida’s oldest historically Black college.
Edward Waters became a university in June when the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges allowed the Jacksonville-based school to offer master’s degrees for the first time. Once approved, Edward Waters University immediately began offering an online MBA program.
Earlier this year, President A. Zachary Faisonsaid the goal for offering master’s courses was to raise Edward Waters’ profile. He noted the university has plans to add two more master’s and four more undergraduate programs by the end of the Spring 2023 semester.
Faison said the university is approaching its academic offerings through a matching what students are anecdotally noting are their interests; data from which majors have the most enrollment and matriculation as well as the needs of the labor market.
Edward Waters is concentrating more on encouraging its students to obtain certifications within their degree programs than on concentrations in order to prepare students for postgraduate careers
The result? Edward Waters has its largest enrollment in nearly 30 years. Its 14.5% growth in student enrollment is what will power the university financially to incorporate new degrees and programs.
Since Faison arrived in 2018, Edward Waters has sought to use athletics as a figurative front porch to the university. This was the year, some of those early seeds began to sprout.
In July, the National Collegiate Athletic Association approved EWU’s application to become a provisional Division II institution. The SIAC welcomed the Tigers back to the fold for the first time in more than 80 years later that month.
Also, this summer, Edward Waters christened the Nathaniel Glover Community Field & Stadium. The $4.3 million facility will house the Tigers football and women’s soccer programs.
Edward Waters kicked off the stadium in grand style in August with a 24-20 victory over Florida Memorial. The Tigers finished their first Division II football season with 4-7 record.
“We have some additional sports that we are going to be adding,” Faison told the Business Journal in October. “The next two or three years we expect nothing but continued, phenomenal and record-breaking growth.”