by Max Marbut
“If I had not gone to college, today I would be either in the cemetery or the penitentiary,” declared former Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover at Monday’s meeting of the Downtown Rotary Club of Jacksonville.
Since November 2006, Glover has worked as special assistant to University of North Florida President and former Mayor John Delaney. Glover’s role is to promote higher education, enhance college recruitment and prevent students from dropping out of college.
Glover addressed the group to build support for “The Jacksonville Commitment” — a coalition of UNF, Jacksonville University, Edward Waters College and Florida Community College at Jacksonville.
“We pulled together all the local colleges to participate in this program that will send youngsters to college even if they and their families can’t afford it,” said Glover. “To their credit every (college) president said they would put some scholarships on the table.”
In addition to the scholarships, the program will also include counselors in Duval County public high schools. Glover said the City administration has pledged $1 million from the Jacksonville Journey initiative to help fund the educational accessibility program.
“Kids who go to college fall into four groups,” said Glover. “The first group is the kids who are smart enough to qualify for a scholarship. The second group is kids with parents who have money. Another group is the kids who have a talent for music or sports. Then there’s a fourth group of kids who can’t afford to go to college and were never encouraged to try. That’s the group we’re after. We have to give them some hope.”
He added the eligibility requirements are not based on race, but solely on economic needs and will be chosen from the pool of students on the free or reduced-price lunch programs in the public schools. Glover also pointed out the institutions will not lower their admissions standards for the Jacksonville Commitment students.
“It will be an investment in the future,” he said. “I believe the Jacksonville Commitment can address a number of ills in our community, crime being number one. College graduates don’t rob convenience stores or do drive-by shootings. We can pay now or we can pay later.”
Glover admitted that as part of the Jacksonville Journey, the Jacksonville Commitment is dependent on the parent program being funded. After the meeting adjourned he told the Daily Record that’s why he was speaking to the Rotary Club.
“I’ll be speaking to many groups like this about this program. These are the people who can talk to the City Council (members) in support of this funding. And if the City can’t fund it, we’ll have to look to the business community for support,” he said.
Glover also said he has no intention of seeking any elected office. In 2003, he lost to Mayor John Peyton after serving as sheriff for eight years.