Edward Waters College Introduces Campus-Wide Shared Reading And Engagement Initiative

JACKSONVILLE, FL. (August 31, 2018) – The Edward Waters College (EWC) Shared Reading Experience was developed as a way to provide primarily first-year Edward Waters College students with a common educational experience, share new perspectives, and introduce them to the EWC family. The program is designed to provide primarily first-year students with an enjoyable and positive reading experience, to reinforce the message that reading is an integral part of the college experience, and to foster a sense of community amongst the College’s students. The College’s First-Year Seminar (FYS) course will include academic expectations based on the content of the shared reading selection.

Consistent with the College’s mission of nurturing a rich intellectual community, the EWC Shared Reading Experience (ESRE) challenges students, faculty, and staff to examine themselves and the local and global worlds they inhabit through reading. The readings and related discussions aim not only to encourage critical reflection about important issues but also to invite consideration of how our individual actions affect these issues.

The EWC Shared Reading Experience will:

  • Offer diverse perspectives and commentary on key issues affecting our lives and provide a common experience for first-year learners to ease the transition into the academic community of the College;
  • Build an intellectual community among first-year learners, returning students, faculty and staff through discussion forums to question and discuss these perspectives in depth;
  • Encourage integration of these ideas and perspectives in other aspects of the Edward Waters College experience;
  • Foster critical thinking by offering multiple opportunities to examine and reflect upon the reading throughout the year;
  • Encourage students to make connections between classroom and out-of-classroom experiences;
  • Engage students in discussions surrounding current societal issues.

Anchored around incoming freshmen, the ESRE will look to expand and grow to include students across all years to become involved in classroom discussions, campus events, and community activities based around the Common Book. 

One of the annual highlights of the EWC Shared Reading Experience will be a visit by the book’s author, who is invited to speak to the Edward Waters College campus and local community as well as participate in a book-signing and other community events.


All books can be picked-up in the Office of the President or Provost’s Office in the Lee-Cousins Building by faculty and staff beginning Tuesday, September 11, 2018. First-come, first-serve!   All freshmen/first-year students will receive a copy during next week’s Convocation Est Ceremony of Matriculation which is held on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. in the Adams-Jenkins Sports & Music Complex.

Dr. Thomas J. Calhoun Appointed Vice President of Enrollment Management & Strategic Matriculant Services

JACKSONVILLE, FL. (August 31, 2018) – Having earned a distinguished reputation as an inimitable higher education leader and senior administrator, Dr. Thomas J. Calhoun, Jr. has accepted an appointment as the Vice President of Enrollment Management & Strategic Matriculant Services at Edward Waters College (EWC). Dr. Calhoun will begin his tenure, effective September 10, 2018 as the College’s chief enrollment management strategist and architect. He will be responsible for providing greater coordination, and analytical rigor to every phase of the overall operational recruitment, enrollment, retention, and persistence of EWC students in support of the institution’s aspirations to achieve both heightened student success and greater enrollment growth.

“We are delighted to welcome such a seasoned and demonstrably effective higher education leader of the caliber of Dr. Calhoun to our venerable collegiate community here at Edward Waters College,” said EWC President & CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.

As an accomplished administrator and academician with a higher education career spanning 20 plus years, Dr. Calhoun is the former President of Chicago State University and most recently served as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Engagement at Kentucky State University. He formerly held posts as Vice President for Enrollment Management, Interim Provost, and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of North Alabama (UNA). Prior to his leadership service at UNA, Dr. Calhoun served as Assistant Dean for Student Academic Services at the University Of Washington College of Engineering.

“Dr. Calhoun’s high acumen and expertise in leading this very critical area of expanded focus for EWC will serve to principally enhance the development and implementation of innovative and effective support models aimed at promoting our student’s overall success leading to future enrollment growth for our institution,” President Faison said.

As an academician and member of the faculty, Dr. Calhoun was a laboratory technician in the Biology Department at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, where he taught experimental laboratory methods in molecular biology. He subsequently directed a science and technology program at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY and later served as principal of North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School, principal at Hales Franciscan High School, and headmaster at St. Gregory Episcopal School. 

“I am inspired by President Faison’s tremendous and transformational vision for the future of Edward Waters College and am enthusiastic to join in support of his leadership,” said Calhoun. “It is equally thrilling to have the opportunity to serve in partnership with the stellar community of administrators, faculty, staff, and alumni of Edward Waters in support of the outstanding students at EWC.”

Dr. Calhoun holds Bachelor’s degrees from Tuskegee University in Philosophy and Biology, the Master of Science degree in Biology from Clark Atlanta University, the Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from the University of Chicago, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Washington. 

Dr. Calhoun is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  He has lectured and preached extensively around the country, and has served as an associate minister at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC, Quinn Chapel AME Church in Chicago, IL, First AME Church in Seattle WA, Greater St. Paul AME Church in Florence, AL, and St. John AME Church in Frankfort, KY.  He holds the Master of Divinity degree from Turner Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA.

Dr. DeShanna K. Brown Appointed Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Development, Marketing and Communications

JACKSONVILLE, FL. (August 23, 2018) – With a diverse background in advancement and development in higher education spanning more than a decade of fundraising experience in annual giving, corporate sponsorships, campaign development, donor cultivation, alumni engagement and philanthropic giving at historically black colleges and universities, Dr. DeShanna Brown has accepted an appointment as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Development, Marketing and Communications at Edward Waters College (EWC).   

Dr. Brown will begin her tenure, effective September 17, 2018, and will provide the leadership and vision to establish the College’s fundraising and philanthropic function as a model inventive and dynamic fundraising operation.

“We are simply ecstatic to welcome such an experienced development professional and proven fundraising leader of the quality of Dr. Brown to the EWC community,” said EWC President & CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.

Dr. Brown has been recognized by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for best practices in advancement and was selected by the White House Initiatives on Historically Black Colleges and Universities as a thought leader on HBCU Alumni Giving Rates. She recently published her dissertation on the Development of Strategic Fundraising Practices for Divisions of Student Affairs at 4-year institutions and co-authored Student Affairs Staff: Raising Funds to Raise the Bar (2019) for the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA).

“Dr. Brown is both a distinguished advancement and development scholar and a seasoned fundraising practitioner having led multimillion dollar fundraising campaigns in higher education and particularly at an HBCU and we look forward to her leadership in developing and implementing of a comprehensive strategy to increase giving at the College amongst all of our community stakeholders including trustees, alumni, faculty and staff, students, corporations, foundations, friends and community partners,” President Faison said.            

Dr. DeShanna K. Brown has served as the Director of Development for the Division of Student Affairs at Louisiana State University (LSU) since March 2014. Before joining LSU, Dr. Brown served as director of annual giving for Spelman College – one of the most selective women’s college in the nation and a global leader in the education of women of African descent. During her tenure, she led her team in raising more than $8 million against a $150 million comprehensive campaign goal to support scholarships, academic initiatives, and campus renewal during the college’s largest ever fundraising effort, The Campaign for Spelman College. She has also held positions at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.

“I am enthusiastic and eager to join in partnership with the entire EWC community at this transformational time of Emerging Eminence under the visionary leadership of President Faison,” said Dr. Brown. “EWC’s historic mission and its current trajectory serve as a great source of inspiration for me personally and I look forward to engaging the greater Jacksonville community towards heightened investment in the higher educational crown jewel that is Edward Waters College,” Dr. Brown said.   

Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University, a Master’s degree from the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University, and a Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Brown is a former board member of The Minerva Foundation Inc. (Marietta, GA) and the Healthy Moves Initiative Inc. (Marietta, GA). She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Mandrake Miller Appointed Vice President for
Student Success And Engagement

Boasting of a superlative record for supporting overall student achievement as a seasoned and progressive student success and engagement leader in higher education, Mr. Mandrake Miller has accepted an appointment as the inaugural Vice President for Student Success & Engagement at Edward Waters College (EWC).    

Mr. Miller will begin his tenure, effective August 20, 2018, and will provide direct leadership as the institutions chief student affairs officer charged with bringing the dynamism, energy, innovation, and leadership necessary to efficaciously shape the future of the EWC student experience. As a student-centered professional, Mr. Miller will initiate, develop, maintain, and provide oversight for a comprehensive array of student programs and services that support students in their academic pursuits, campus life, and civic and social responsibilities.

“We endeavored to find a vanguard student affairs leader who would be dedicated to enhancing the student engagement, student leadership, and overall student experience at our historic institution and Mr. Miller truly fits the bill,” said EWC President & CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.

As a seasoned student affairs professional, Miller most recently served as Dean of Students at Tuskegee University where as the university’s chief student judicial officer he dually led in the development and  implementation of student programming and experiential initiatives designed to enhance student academic progress,  student leadership, and student’s overall personal growth and professional readiness. He also shared leadership responsibilities in support of campus residence life and housing as well as oversight of various campus life initiatives and student sponsored clubs and organizations.

“Mr. Miller possesses both the relevant experience and vision to engage our EWC students in new and exciting ways and we look forward with great anticipation to achieving unprecedented successful outcomes amongst our Edward Waters College students under his leadership,” President Faison said.            

Miller’s student affairs career spans multiple leadership appointments at Livingstone College (North Carolina), Bethune Cookman University (Florida), Chowan University (North Carolina) and Virginia Union University — with related experiences managing and overseeing student programs and departments spanning the student services gamut from Residence Life and Housing to Student Conduct, Campus Ministry, Student Life and Development, Greek life, and Athletics.

“I am filled with excitement and enthusiasm to join in partnership with the academic community at EWC in service and support of the outstanding students at Edward Waters College,” said Miller.

“As an institution of emerging eminence I am honored to have been selected by Dr. Faison to lead the student success and engagement effort at EWC and I am eager to work towards bringing his compelling vision for the EWC student experience into fruition,” Miller said.    

A native of South Carolina, Miller earned a M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University and a B.S. from Morris College. He currently is completing a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Christian Ministry from Grand Canyon University. Miller is a United States Army Veteran, having completed tours in Iraq and Kuwait and is also an ordained minister. He is married to Mrs. Shaquana Miller and they have a three-year-old daughter Madison.

President Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr. and First Lady Donate $25,000 to EWC

JACKSONVILLE, FL. (August 9, 2018) – During the annual Edward Waters College (EWC) Fall Faculty & Staff  Institute President and First Lady Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr. made a donation of $25,000 to the College to support their newly established EWC Professional and Scholarly Development Fund. (PSDF).

The EWC Professional and Scholarly Development Fund was established by Dr. and First Lady (Tyciee) Faison to support and expand opportunities for professional and scholarly development amongst faculty and staff of Edward Waters College. In establishing the fund, the first family supported the aforementioned initiative by making a $25,000 gift to the College to be disbursed over the next 5 years with the Fund becoming accessible beginning September 1, 2018 and every subsequent September 1st until 2022.

President A. Zachary Faison, Jr. and First Lady Tyciee present a check for $25,000 in support of and to establish the Professional and Scholarly Development Fund.

“We are truly excited to make this initial investment towards the professional and scholarly development of the outstanding and dedicated faculty and staff at EWC,” said EWC President, Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr.

All full-time EWC faculty and staff employees, upon completion of one-year of employment service to the College, are eligible to apply to receive disbursements from the fund once per fiscal year for a professional and/or scholarly development activity.  Activities may include reputable seminar/ training programs, e-learning opportunities, presentations and participation at external regional/national conferences. Specified professional or scholarly development activities must be directly related to the faculty academic discipline and/or job responsibilities at Edward Waters College.

“Our intention is for this gift to catalyze increased philanthropic support to our entire college community as we fervently believe that EWC is fertile ground in which others should plant seeds that will assuredly reap a bountiful harvest as evidenced by our outstanding graduates who contribute greatly to the City of Jacksonville, the State of Florida, and beyond,” Faison said. 


JACKSONVILLE, FL. (July 31, 2018) – After an illustrious 30 plus year career in higher education as a tenured faculty member, academic department chair, vice president, provost, and university president, Dr. Donna H. Oliver has accepted an appointment to become Edward Waters College’s (EWC) new Provost & Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Effective August 6th, Oliver will serve dually as the College’s chief operating and chief academic officer providing intellectual leadership to create, advance, and implement the academic mission of the College and oversee its academic programs, a wide range of faculty matters, and student academic affairs.  Under the leadership of the President, and as a senior member of his executive cabinet, Oliver will provide innovative stratagems and vision to the College community towards building a strategic academic direction under a new resource model, balancing the excellence of individual academic departments with a strong commitment to interdisciplinary endeavors and collaboration.

“At a time of national debate about the role of higher education and particularly liberal arts colleges in our society, EWC was seeking an intellectual and scholarly leader who is bold, dynamic, entrepreneurial, and collaborative,” EWC President A. Zachary Faison Jr., said. “I am more than confident that we’ve found just that in Dr. Oliver and I look forward with great anticipation and enthusiasm to working with her to advance the competitiveness of our overall academic and institutional profile.”   

Oliver will join the institution at a transformative time as she is President Faison’s first executive cabinet appointee and will be expected to work closely with members of the College’s board of trustees, college administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and a myriad of external stakeholders and constituencies. More specifically, Oliver is charged with fostering the creation, advancement, and implementation of the academic vision for the College and will maintain responsibility for all of EWC’s academic departments and degree programs while leading and implementing strategic planning and all reaffir­mation of institutional accreditation efforts. As Provost & Senior Vice President she is ideally positioned to leverage the institution’s excellence in academics and service to achieve even higher levels of institutional eminence.

 “I am eager and excited to join in partnership with the outstanding community of faculty scholars and dedicated higher ed­ucation professionals at Edward Waters College,” Oliver said. “I am also deeply inspired by President Faison’s tremendous vision and am honored to be chosen to support his progressive leadership as he leads EWC to unprecedented new heights of emerging eminence.”   

Prior to joining the College, Oliver made history as the first African-American woman to ever lead a public university in the state of Mississippi when she was appointed President of Mississippi Valley State University in 2009. As a seasoned se­nior administrator she also formerly served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Edward Waters College; Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bennett College; and professor of education/director of Leaders for the 21st Century at Elon University. She is the 1986 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, the 1987 National Teacher of the Year (having been selected from among America’s 2.5 million K-12 teachers), and was presented the Crystal Apple Award by President Ron­ald Reagan during an Oval Office Ceremony in the White House, after serving 12 years as a public high school biology and chemistry teacher. Oliver is a life time member of Girl Scouts of America, the Burlington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Mt. Zion Full Gospel Baptist Church.

Oliver earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an M.S. in Edu­cational Administration from North Carolina A&T State University, an M.Ed. in Biology and Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an A.B. in Biology from Elon College. She holds three Execu­tive Leadership Certificates: a New Presidents Academy Certificate from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU); an Institute for Educational Management (IEM) Certificate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education; and a Management Certificate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bryan Business School.

She is married to James C. Oliver, a retired buyer from General Dynamics.  They have one daughter, Minister Rachel Oliver-Cobbin, the 1986 Miss Black America and a former lead female vocalist for the internationally renowned recording artist, Atlantic Starr.  Rachel is married to Keith J. Cobbin, who is the Owner/Principal Consultant at Cobbin Consulting Group at Health Information Technology Company and they reside in Las Vegas, NV with their two children.  Dr. Oliver and her husband are the proud grandparents of those two children, 13-year old Cameron James Oliver Cobbin and 10-year old Raina Lael Oliver Cobbin