University President Announces ‘Week of Respite’ While Issuing
Unprecedented End-Of-Year Bonuses To University Staff Employees
JACKSONVILLE, FL – On last Friday in a special called meeting with all university staff members Edward Waters University (EWU) President, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., announced that the University would be ending the Fall 2021 semester a week early in observance of what he called a ‘Winter Week of Respite’ beginning Monday, December 13th through the remainder of the week. In effect, the university’s first ever ‘Winter Week of Respite’ granted all full-time 12 month university employees an additional full work week of paid time off leading into the institution’s annual winter break which was originally scheduled to begin on December 20th.
“I was just thanking God with tears literally rolling down my face when Dr. Faison made that announcement,” said Ms. Beverly Bolton, an EWU alumna and sixteen-year veteran employee currently serving as an executive assistant in the University’s Division of Student Success and Engagement.
“The school is really thriving like never before and we’ve all worked so hard but many of us have been through a lot personally especially with the pandemic and were just in need of the additional time off to focus on our own health and wellness or be with our families and loved ones,” Bolton said.
During this past Friday’s meeting President Faison additionally announced end of year discretionary performance incentive compensation bonuses of $1,000 and $1,500 respectively to all full time 12-month employees who have provided at least one year of service to the institution.
“In my time at Edward Waters we’ve never received anything like this and to know that our work is being recognized and appreciated by our President really means a lot—I’m just so happy that Dr. Faison planted this seed and now we’re reaping the benefits like he said we would!” Bolton exclaimed.
Indeed, the last two years have been marked by unprecedented growth and transformative progress for Florida’s first independent institution of higher learning and first Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Over that time span Edward Waters enrollment has skyrocketed by 19.1% highlighted by having welcomed its largest class of new students on record this past fall and buttressed by a nearly 80% Spring to Fall semester retention rate leading to the largest overall enrollment the institution has seen (over 1100+ students) in nearly two decades. The recent remarkable growth makes Edward Waters the fastest growing college or university in Jacksonville and the fastest growing HBCU in the State of Florida per published reports.
“For President Faison to acknowledge our hard work and contribution to Edward Waters’ success with the bonus and also recognize that we needed time off to rest and be with our families was really meaningful to me and I know it meant a lot to other employees as well,” said Oluwatoyin Lipede, Assistant Director of Financial Aid in the university’s Division of Enrollment Management and thirteen-year university employee.
“Just to know that our work is valued and appreciated from the President and administration is very special especially at this time of year,” Lipede said.
“The extraordinary service rendered by our university employees over the past nearly two years (twenty-two consecutive months) through the height of unprecedented challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has been exemplary and awe-inspiring” said President Faison.
“While over the last two years many other institutions have at best stagnated and at worst experienced significant downturns Edward Waters has auspiciously excelled and significantly advanced in virtually every measure. That didn’t happen by happenstance—it is directly attributable to the tremendous dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and commitment of the invaluable members of our EWU family.” President Faison said.
Relatedly, this past summer marked a historic transformation for the 155-year old institution as Edward Waters earned authorization from its accrediting body SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) to offer graduate degrees for the first time in its storied history (the 100% online Masters of Business Administration degree program) thereby transitioning the institution from the former baccalaureate degree granting Edward Waters College to Edward Waters University. Relatedly, this summer EWU also simultaneously earned a successful Fifth-Year Accreditation review from SACSCOC thereby fully reaffirming the institution’s accreditation status through 2025. And just last week, EWU received notification of its authorization by SACSCOC to offer a new Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science beginning fall 2022.
Even more, after an over a decade long period of financial difficulty most notably challenged by many consecutive years of multimillion dollar operating financial deficits, the new university ended the fiscal year with an operational financial surplus for the second consecutive year. Additionally, EWU surpassed its philanthropic and fundraising goals by over 125% while this past year also saw the completion of over $10 million dollars of new campus capital projects and technology improvements including the $4.4 million dollar renovation of the university’s largest student residence facility, the $4.3 million construction of EWU’s first ever on-campus athletic stadium, complete renovation of the university’s biology laboratory, installation of SMART virtual learning technology in every university classroom, purchase and currently ongoing implementation of a new global ERP system, and completion of a new student activity center scheduled to open to students in January.
Athletically, this past year saw Edward Waters University successfully earn NCAA Division II membership for the first time in institutional history and return to the universally renowned SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) conference after a nearly century long hiatus while adding new NCAA varsity sports in women’s soccer, men’s volleyball, women’s golf, and men’s and women’s indoor track.
“We’ve had a banner past two years under what has been the most harrowing and difficult time and sets of circumstances that perhaps we’ve ever seen in higher education,” noted President Faison.
“As the team leader I was cognizant that our team was urgently in need of time for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rest, restoration, and rejuvenation as well as a tangible expression of acknowledgement for a collective job very well done. So I was ecstatic to be able to extend this gesture of gratitude and appreciation on behalf of the university,” President Faison said.
The University will officially reopen and resume its regular business operations on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022 with classes set to begin for the spring 2022 semester on Monday, January 18th, 2022. Virtual check-in for students begins on January 12th. In-person check-in for students with last names beginning with A-L is on Thursday, January 13th 2022 and for students with last names beginning with M-Z Friday, January 14th, 2022. All in-person check-in will take place in the James Weldon Johnson gymnasium on the EWU campus.
About Edward Waters University: Emerging Eminence
Edward Waters University is distinctively the state of Florida’s first independent institution of higher learning as well as Florida’s first institution established for the education of African-Americans. With a distinguished higher education lineage spanning over 150 years, EWU is primed to continue its Emerging Eminence as a premier urban, private, Christian, historically black, liberal arts university offering high quality degrees and preparing students holistically to advance in a global society through the provision of intellectually stimulating academic programs of study. The University offers a close-knit, collegial, intellectual community that draws students and scholars from around the world. For more information, visit www.ewc.edu
About The Author: Justin Walker
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