Alum-turned-president says investment has created opportunity and productive citizens.
Only days before he announced his retirement in September, Edward Waters College President Nathaniel Glover Jr. secured an $8.5 million allocation from the city of Jacksonville for campus improvements.
The funding will provide support for an athletic community field, male dormitory, safety and infrastructure enhancements at Florida’s oldest independent college.
The funding comes at the end of a distinguished career in public service, one that began not long after Glover received his diploma from Edward Waters in 1966.
Glover retires from Edward Waters College effective May 31.
In April, he told the Daily Record the city will see a favorable return on its investment in the school.
“I would like to think that we are turning out students who stay here in Jacksonville and become a prominent part of the workforce here, and that’s a good thing for the city,” said Glover, 75.
“We’ve been fortunate that the city continues to invest in Edward Waters College, and we provide a return on that investment.”
That return comes not only in a positive impact on the workforce, but also in social initiatives and educational opportunities that result in productive citizens who could easily be otherwise.
“A number of our students come from challenging neighborhoods. They come from challenged family situations in a lot of instances, and coming out of those neighborhoods they could very well be coming from a challenged school,” Glover said.
“But we get them in and get them what they need and turn them into productive citizens. If you look at it like that, I think that is what you might call the epitome of a good business deal.”
Similarly important to the workforce is Edward Waters College’s contribution to Jacksonville’s civic culture, Glover said.
Beyond his own career of community service, he cites graduates Alvin Brown, Jacksonville’s first African-American mayor; City Council members Reggie Brown and Samuel Newby; and Florida Rep. Tracie Davis as examples.
“Again, that investment is quite obvious, and it’s not a reach and it’s not one of those things that is hard to explain,” Glover said. “We’re proud of what we are doing here.”
In 2010, Glover was asked to serve as interim president of the school and became president the next year.
Eight years later, on May 31, he hands the reins to A. Zachary Faison Jr., the incoming president.
Glover’s standing in the community helped elevate the awareness of the school, served as an example to EWC students and provided an opportunity to raise the level of the school’s law enforcement curriculum.
During his tenure, JSO placed a substation on campus, which includes a crime lab, and is the base for Zone 5 officers.
The school partners with Florida State College at Jacksonville, an arrangement that allows criminal justice students to attend the Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Center on the FSCJ campus to earn their law enforcement certification.
That effectively is their senior year and, when complete, they are certified law enforcement officers.
Glover said he believes the best officers are well-rounded, possessing either a college degree or are military veterans.
“I think without a doubt we are fostering opportunity and making certain that we give the citizens of Jacksonville a return on their investment,” Glover said. “I can tell you we should be providing opportunities for all of our young people and I think we can do better, but there is an opportunity for most young people if we can get them to apply themselves and take advantage of those opportunities.
“I would like to think that Edward Waters College is one of those opportunities where they can launch themselves into a successful career,” he said.
Glover said many Jacksonville-area industries benefit from EWC graduates.
“What we try to do is put on seminars for students going into the workforce and job fairs so that they will be encouraged to stay here, but of course they’re going out all over the state and the country,” Glover said.
“We have students who are doing internships here in different companies, the Sheriff‘s Office and hospitals. I think we are great community and business partners.”
Under Glover’s leadership, EWC implemented a program that places role models in local elementary schools as teachers.
“We are addressing the dreadful number of African-American males (teaching) in the elementary school environment,” Glover said. “We of course give scholarships to go through the elementary education program, and in return they have to stay in this community for five years and teach in elementary school,” he said.
That is one way, he said, to address some of the challenges, “by serving as positive examples to young students so they have a better chance to become productive adults.
“And that’s good for everybody,” he said.
Glover attended Edward Waters College on a football scholarship.
Glover, a linebacker, said his coach told him he had to do three things if he wanted to play.
“He told me I had to play well enough to stay on the team, work hard in the classroom to remain eligible, and clean that restroom every day,” Glover said.
“That restroom” was a public men’s room located across the hall from the college president’s office.
Sitting at the end of the conference table in that same president’s office he has occupied for the past eight years, he asked, “How do you get from there to here?”
You walk across the hall, after a 44-year detour.