Guest Series: Nat Glover, President of Edward Waters

June 14, 2012 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Nat Glover, the former Sheriff of Jacksonville and the president of Edward Waters College, discusses the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the outreach of Edward Waters College. Join us after the jump for an eye opening essay by one of the city's most popular lawmen.

In higher education there are discussions taking place regarding the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These institutions once were the only places where African-Americans could obtain a post secondary education. They have since grown – or evolved – to serve larger populations of students from all races, nationalities and cultures. However, generally, the mission of HBCUs has remained the same: Educate, cultivate, empower, and serve the community.

HBCU students usually get to experience college in a more intimate way. Classes and enrollments are smaller; staff and faculty know, and remember, students by name; enduring friendships are made and unique networks are created; niches are encouraged, discovered and honed; and strong social and moral foundations are built. Generally, students attending majority institutions with tens of thousands of students usually don’t receive these experiences throughout their entire college matriculation. They usually have to attend workshops or join clubs – if offered at convenient, non-conflicting times – to expand these important skills. At Edward Waters College, we understand the importance of incorporating these elements into every component of our students’ experience from day one. This is one of the benefits of attending an institution that takes a family-inspired approach to education; and it is one of the main reasons students choose an HBCU, such as Edward Waters College, to pursue a post secondary education. In addition to the learning environment, HBCUs are also known for community outreach.

Since its founding in 1866, Edward Waters College has always tried to find ways to incorporate the surrounding community in its institutional initiatives. Most recently, the College opted to house the New Town Success Zone – a public/private partnership that provides health, social and educational services within City Council District 9. Since being housed at EWC, the New Town area has experienced a 41 percent reduction in violent crime largely due to its “community policing” initiative. It has also commenced construction of a public park behind the EWC campus to provide a safe, enjoyable place for families and children to play and interact with others in the neighborhood. Our students also get involved by participating in NTSZ initiatives and mentoring at surrounding schools throughout the year.

It is often said that “Edward Waters College needs the community, and the community needs Edward Waters College.” While I am unsure of the origins of this aphorism, I am certain of its accuracy. It continues to resonate in the approach we take to furthering the growth and success of the institution.

In addition to the New Town Success Zone, we are focused on two other major community-centered projects. One is the construction of a family health center for the treatment and prevention of urban health disparities. The facility will house primary health care offices, research labs and a lecture hall for both academic and community use. In partnership with a community research advisory committee, EWC and other health-based organizations aim to provide treatment and prevention programs for common urban health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, HIV/AIDS, asthma and cancer. EWC’s Biology students will also conduct labs and research in the facility.

The second project we are spearheading is the construction of a two-story, 16,000 sq. ft. police substation. As former Sheriff, I can attest to the great need to have such a facility
to service the Zone 5 community in and around Edward Waters College.  Last year nearly 34 percent of the murders in Jacksonville were committed in Zone 5.  Other than the obvious safety improvements the facility and its law enforcement personnel will bring, it is projected to save the city $14,000 per year. This $2.6 million facility will also house classrooms and a lab on the first floor for our criminal justice students. Additionally, students will be able to network with law enforcement and witness police operations on a daily basis.

At Edward Waters College, we are always looking for ways to better serve our students and enhance our community.  For some, Edward Waters College is an intergenerational landmark in the city. For others, it is a place of holistic learning. With these three fairly new projects underway, we hope to also be known as the catalyst for the improvement of the socioeconomic state of Northwest Jacksonville. Thus, Edward Waters College, an HBCU, is still relevant. We are, and always have been, uniquely positioned to be a resilient multi-dimensional institution with a mission to contribute to the betterment of humanity.

Edward Waters College is on the RISE.

Editorial by Nat Glover