JACKSONVILLE, FL – Aug. 14, 2020  The Edward Waters College (EWC) Board of Trustees took steps earlier this month to maintain the positive momentum of the College by unanimously approving an extension of President & CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.’s contract until July 2025. Faison’s contract was originally set to expire in July 2023.

EWC Board of Trustees Chairman, Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr. expressed that the Board appreciates how President Faison and his administration are comprehensively advancing the College in an upward trajectory and propelling its mission forward. “During the Board’s recent performance review and evaluation of President Faison which included input from a cross-section of institutional stakeholders including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we articulated our enthusiastic support and tremendous satisfaction with his leadership as he embarks upon his third year at the helm of Edward Waters College,” said Chairman Richardson.   “EWC is stronger than ever and President Faison has raised the bar at essentially every level with his vision, passion, and commitment to high achievement,” Richardson said. “We are confident that he will continue to elevate the College through extraordinary leadership and academic and administrative excellence.”

Faison took the helm of the State of Florida’s first independent institution of higher education and first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in July 2018 as America’s youngest HBCU President or Chancellor. Along with the leadership team he has assembled, he has led in the development and implementation of an ambitious strategic plan, Eminence 2025. The plan, created through the College’s inclusive, consultative, and comprehensive strategic planning process, established dynamic goals to guide Edward Waters College into the future. A sampling of some of the College’s accomplishments under President Faison’s leadership include the following:

  • Eliminated the College’s existing multimillion dollar net operating cash deficit and achieved the institution’s first fiscal year-end operating net cash surplus in over a decade at the close of the most recent fiscal year (FY 2020).
  • Raised the College’s admissions standards to increase the College’s competitive profile while simultaneously stabilizing institutional enrollment. 
  • Secured a historically significant $3.5 million-dollar state funding increase in the College’s reoccurring state funding allocation to $7.4 million (a 72% state funding increase over prior years beginning in FY21) paving the way for the forthcoming addition of new academic programs at the College and providing significant additional funding to support the retention and persistence of EWC students.
  • Increased private gifts, pledges, and in-kind support to the College by 40% led by an 85% increase in total giving from the EWC Board of Trustees.
  • Earned SACS-COC approval to offer the College’s first ever fully online degree program (Bachelor of Business in Organizational Management) and earned SACS-COC approval to offer all of the College’s academic degree programs fully online.
  • Secured an innovative corporate partnership with Follett Higher Education group to provide six-figure philanthropic support to the College and furnish new Chromebook laptop computers to every new first-time in college full-time Edward Waters College student through the year 2025.
  • Led the contractual renegotiation necessary for the City of Jacksonville to directly fund the $4.4 million-dollar comprehensive renovation of the College’s largest student residence facility and the $4.3 million-dollar new construction of the College’s first ever on-campus athletic stadium both scheduled for completion in Fall 2020.
  • Established the inaugural Honors College at Edward Waters securing an initial freshman student cohort (i.e., the Alpha Cohort) boasting an average 4.0 grade point average and nearly 1150 on the SAT.
  • Completed global upgrade of the College’s learning management system including overall modernization of campus technological infrastructure including installation of new computer servers as well as enhanced and expanded wi-fi access points throughout the campus.  
  • Established the College’s first Center for Undergraduate Research and founded the Rev. Charles H. Pearce Summer Institute & Bridge Program.
  • Produced the College’s first ever interdisciplinary refereed journals: (1) Edward Waters College HBCU Journal On Research Initiatives and (2) The Edward Waters College Undergraduate Journal on Research Across the Disciplines.  
  • Earned an invitation from NCAA Division II-member Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) for the College’s athletic program to join the conference while also adding three new sports to the institution including its first ever women’s soccer program and men and women’s indoor track program in Fall 2020. 
  • Led the College in achieving recognition by the HBCU Campaign Fund as a Top 10 Smaller HBCU Rising for 2019 and 2020.
  • Established the EWC Faculty & Staff Development Fund to support faculty research and expand professional development opportunities for College faculty and staff.

“I want to thank Chairman Richardson and the entire Edward Waters College Board of Trustees for their tremendous support and continued confidence in our leadership,” President Faison said. “I am blessed to serve with an incredible collection of board leaders, superlative administrators, and exceptionally dedicated faculty and staff who are committed to upholding a high standard of excellence by ensuring the College provides a transformative educational experience for our outstanding Tiger scholar students. Per the recent launch of our bold and visionary Eminence 2025 strategic plan, we are poised to become a best-in-class ‘destination institution’ of Emerging Eminence that cultivates expansive opportunities of demonstrable success and achievement for our students.,” said President Faison.

Dr. Faison earned his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Albany State University where he was a Presidential Scholar and Honors Program Merit Scholar graduate and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law. As an attorney, executive higher education administrator, and scholar-educator he has completed post-doctoral study at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, was a fellow of the American Association of State College & Universities (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative, and holds the Certification in Fundraising Management from the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).

President Faison maintains active memberships with various local and national civic, professional, and community organizations. In February 2020, Faison was appointed by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to serve as a member of the JEA (the eighth largest publicly owned electric utility in the United States and largest in Florida) Board of Directors. He also serves as a trustee member of the Jacksonville Chamber, is a member of the Jacksonville Civic Council, Leadership Jacksonville, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, and was recently named an institutional director of the UNCF Board of Directors. Dr. Faison has received regional and national recognition for his outstanding leadership and achievements per his selection as a member of The Business Journals Influencers: Rising Stars 100; the National Bar Association (Top 40 Attorneys Under 40) the Jacksonville Business Journal (Top 40 Under 40) and has been specially recognized and honored by both of his alma maters—The University of Georgia and Albany State University—as amongst each of its respective 40 most distinguished alumni under 40.