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