Edward Waters College, a historically Black educational institution in Jacksonville, Florida, has announced its intention to transition to university status. According to the latest data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education, the college enrolls just over 2,900 students, all undergraduates. African Americans make up 60 percent of the student body.
In 1866, the African Methodist Episcopal Church founded the Brown Theological Institute to educate former slaves for the ministry. Ground was broken for the first buildings for the new school in 1872 on a 10-acre lot in Live Oak, Florida. In 1892 the institute changed its name to Edward Waters College to honor the third bishop of the AME Church. It moved to Jacksonville in 1893. In 1901, the campus was destroyed by a fire and a new campus, where the college is located today, was opened in 1904.
After restructuring its finances, this year the college achieved its first institutional operating net cash surplus in more than a decade. In addition, the 2020-2021 state legislative budget allocated an additional $3.5 million to Edward Waters College for a $6.4 million total.
This influx in funding has emboldened the institution to add new bachelor’s degree programs and it first master’s degree program. The goal for the college is ultimately to become a university with the creation of its first graduate-level program, a master’s degree in business administration.