EWC Students Excelling in Technology & Entrepreneurship

By William Jackson – For African Americans, entrepreneurship has always been important as many Blacks struggled to find jobs after slavery and during the segregation era.  Madame CJ Walker, is known as the first Black millionaire. She once said, “I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

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Nikki Giovanni To Feature As Inaugural Lecturer At Edward Waters College President’s Distinguished Speaker Series

Jacksonville, FL – September 21, 2018Stay Woke: The Edward Waters College (EWC) President’s Distinguished Speaker Series will commence on October 18, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. on the EWC campus, featuring world renowned author, poet and activist, Nikki Giovanni. The speaker series is a student and campus-wide academic and experiential engagement initiative intended to present a robust and varied collection of distinguished and scholarly speakers to the EWC campus community. The new initiative seeks to engage the views, ideas, and espoused ideals expressed by national thought leaders, authors, entertainers, activists, advocates, athletes, educators, business leaders, and opinion shapers who will be featured as a part of the series. 

“The primary aim of the series is to broaden the perspectives of our college community and widen our students’ overall academic experience beyond the classroom,” said EWC President & CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.  “We intend for this vehicle to serve as a platform to provoke meaningful discussion, reflective and critical thinking, and provide enriching insight and illumination into the critical issues of our time,” President Faison said.

The series is aptly titled ‘Stay Woke,’ as a timely colloquialism, evincing a focus upon the continuous expansion and development of the overall knowledge base of EWC’s academic community while also interfacing intentionally with culturally-based issues and promoting socially conscious and socially responsible activism in a millennial and post-millennial era.

Accordingly, the incomparable Nikki Giovanni, is an award winning American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world’s most well-known African-American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children’s literature. She has won numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal and 7 NAACP Image Awards. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award for her poetry album, The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection. Additionally, she has been named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends and authored three New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers. A frequent lecturer and reader, Giovanni has taught at Rutgers University, Ohio State University, and currently at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she serves as a University Distinguished Professor.

“Indeed, it is truly an honor for EWC to welcome Dr. Nikki Giovanni as our inaugural speaker for this highly anticipated series and we anticipate that this exciting new initiative will accelerate the academic focus of our students, while creating an environment that attracts even more scholars to the educational experience at Edward Waters College” said President Faison.

The series, featuring Nikki Giovanni, is free and open to the public and will begin
Thursday, October 18, 2018
at 6:00 p.m. in The Milne Auditorium
on the Campus of Edward Waters College



About Edward Waters College

Edward Waters College (EWC), accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges, and Schools (SACS) and member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), is a private, historically black, urban college which offers a liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on the Christian principles of high moral and spiritual values. EWC was established in 1866 and is an African Methodist Episcopal Church-related institution of learning. It is the first private institution of higher education in the State of Florida.

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.

EWC SGA Hosts “Be The Vote” Rally featuring Angela Rye

JACKSONVILLE, FL. (August 24, 2018) – The Student Government Association of Edward Waters College in collaboration with the Gillum for Governor campaign will be hosting a “Be The Vote” rally featuring famed CNN National Political Strategist and Commentator, Angela Rye as a surrogate for Andrew Gillum for Governor, the progressive Mayor of Tallahassee and HBCU alumnus. Rye is one of the nation’s leading voices on the intersection of politics, race, and equality in America.  The event will be held on the campus of Edward Waters College in its Milne Auditorium on Monday, August 27, 2018, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  The Student Government Association of EWC welcomes the entire EWC community to attend, as the event is free and open to the general public.  Please note that seating is limited.

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. (August 3, 2018) – Having earned a distinctive reputation as a scholar-educator, a distinguished academician, and an accomplished higher education administrator, Dr. Monique L. Akassi has accepted an appointment as Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs at Edward Waters College (EWC).

Dr. Akassi will begin her tenure, effective August 6, 2018, and will provide leadership in support of the Office of the Provost and particularly its ongoing and continuous collaborative engagement with the college’s faculty. She will serve as a champion for the training and advancement of faculty throughout the college and will support the Provost in the achievement of the goals of the Division of Academic Affairs.

Monique L. Akassi, Ph.D.

“Dr. Akassi brings a wealth of contemporaneously relevant academic experience that will support Edward Waters College’s ascension into the next realm of scholarly achievement, particularly amongst the College’s faculty. In this transformative season in higher education, Dr. Akassi is poised to leverage the College’s academic strengths toward achieving even greater academic preeminence,” EWC Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Donna H. Oliver, stated.

Dr. Akassi will be expected to broadly influence the direction of faculty and Academic Affairs by leading and coordinating college-wide practices and policies associated with faculty work and Academic Affairs in general. Prior to joining the College, Dr. Akassi served in various faculty leadership roles, most recently as an Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature at Virginia Union University, where she also served as a faculty senate officer. Prior to Virginia Union, Dr. Akassi served as an Assistant Professor of English and Director of the University Writing Center at Morgan State University after having served as a member of the faculty at Bowie State University where she founded the Africana Critical Composition & Rhetoric Association (ACCRA) and the Undergraduate Research & Writing Across the Curriculum Conference.  She has received various administrative and academic appointments throughout her higher education career and is a widely-published literary scholar, bringing critical research along with her varied publication experiences as the author/editor of seven books and two academic journals, including her latest publication with Cambridge, W.E.B. Du Bois and The Africana Rhetoric of Dealienation with a foreword written by Mr. Arthur McFarlane II, great grandson of W.E.B. Du Bois.

“I am eager and inspired to work in support of the continued scholarly achievements of the accomplished faculty and higher education professionals at EWC,” said Akassi “It is truly exciting to join the EWC community at such an evolutionary time, and I am convinced that EWC is poised to reach unprecedented academic prominence led by Provost Oliver and under the dynamic and visionary leadership of President Faison.

Akassi earned a Ph.D. from Morgan State University, an M.A. from Wright State University, and a B.A. from the University of Cincinnati.  In addition, she has completed and holds post-doctorate certifications in Management & Development and Educational Leadership from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a post-doctorate certificate in Executive Leadership at Hampton University.

Akassi is married to Dr. Clément A. Akassi who is an Associate Professor of Spanish & French, and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Howard University. They have one son, Amaré, who enjoys mathematics, reading, writing and basketball. 


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

New Town Success Zone Back-To-School Event

New Town Success Zone Hosts its 10th Annual Back to School Giveaway

JACKSONVILLE, FLNew Town Success Zone in partnership with Edward Waters College (EWC) will host its 10th Annual Back to School Giveaway Event on Saturday, August 4th, 2018 at 9:00 am. There will be  over 75 vendors present addressing employment services, education, medical and behavioral health services, child development services, as well as housing.  Families will be able to receive FREE school physicals and immunizations from St. Vincent’s medical providers, book bags stuffed with back-to-school supplies and groceries to the first 300 families. JEA will be there for any questions about utilities or services.

City of Jacksonville, along with the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office, will also be in attendance to share useful information that impact our communities. New Town Success Zone focuses on the two generational models to foster a positive impact on individuals, children, and families.  The 10th Annual Back to School event will not only positively impact the children of our community, but will benefit the entire family, also. This event will be held at the Adams-Jenkins Sports & Music Complex located at 1859 Kings Road, Jacksonville, FL. 32209.


George E. Maxey  

Executive Director

New Town Success Zone

Center for the prevention of Health Disparities

Edward Waters College

1401 Grunthal Street

Jacksonville, FL. 32209

Office: 904-470-8899

Email: george.maxey@ewc.edu