Florida’s Fastest Growing HBCU Continues Rapid Ascension, Reaching Nearly 1,200 Students Representing an Incredible 26.6% Increase in Overall Student Enrollment Since 2019

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Overall enrollment at Edward Waters University (EWU)—Florida’s first independent institution of higher learning, and first historically black college or university (HBCU)—has increased for the third consecutive year having reached its highest overall enrollment in nearly two decades this fall at nearly 1,200 students. Accordingly, as of the close of its fall registration period on Friday, August 26, 2022, EWU’s phenomenal multi-year, overall double-digit percentage enrollment increase culminated in a final fall 2022 enrollment count of 1,181 students—a 6.3% increase over last fall (1,110), and a whopping 26.6% increase in overall student enrollment since 2019 (932). Edward Waters continues to demonstrate its ability to succeed in a highly competitive and dynamically shifting higher education landscape by enrolling more students over the past four years than in any four-year period since 2005, and the most students in a single fall semester since 2004. Additionally, Edward Waters’ fall 2022 enrollment was bolstered by its highest fall-to-fall student retention rate since 2015, and its highest rate over the past four years.

Relatedly, the university simultaneously welcomed its second largest class of new students on record as a total of 509 new students enrolled at the state of Florida’s and Jacksonville’s newest university—having made a historic transition after 155 years from Edward Waters College to Edward Waters University last summer.

“In many circles Edward Waters is often mentioned largely for its historical significance which is something for which we are unabashedly proud” said EWU President and CEO, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.

“At the same time, however, we believe our recent phenomenal enrollment growth is dually a strong testament to our contemporaneous relevance as an institution that is quickly becoming a ‘destination institution’ of choice amongst college going students and their parents as a result of our high quality and expanding academic programs, dedicated university faculty and staff, and commitment towards providing a stellar student experience that is primarily focused upon ensuring our students personal, academic, and professional success,” President Faison added.  

Correspondingly, the university received over 9,500 applications for the current 2022-2023 academic year which represented a 38.7% increase in total applications received by the university over fall 2021 indicating a continuously growing interest from parents and students seeking to make EWU their higher educational home. This year’s enrollment outcome is also indicative of substantial progress realized towards enhancing the retention and persistence of EWU students as the latest overall enrollment effort indicates that the institution was successful in retaining and supporting the persistence of nearly 80 percent (79.3%) of its students who were eligible to return from spring 2022 to fall 2022.

“The extraordinarily positive enrollment results being experienced at EWU can be directly attributed to the commitment, relentless efforts, and focused collaborative work of the dedicated members of our cross-institutional Strategic Enrollment and Retention Team (S.E.R.T),” President Faison said.

“In particular, our entire S.E.R.T. team led by Dr. Jennifer Price, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Mr. Kendrick Dunklin, our Dean of Enrollment Management worked collaboratively with the Office(s) of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Registrar in diligent partnership with our Tiger Center for Academic Persistence and Success (T-CAPS), Athletics, and the Division of Academic Affairs to achieve this signature high overall student enrollment mark,” said President Faison.

In addition, the overall competitive profile for this year’s newest collection of Tiger scholar students is equally notable as the average grade point average amongst the entering EWU Class of 2026 is nearly a 3.0 (2.92). Moreover, this fall the university is also excited to welcome its fourth consecutive cohort of high achieving Tiger scholar-students who are members of the “Delta Cohort” of the EWU Honors College. This fourth iteration of 20 dynamically talented and academically gifted Tiger scholars earned an average 4.14 high school grade point average and includes a class valedictorian as well as a student who earned 5.3 grade point average.

Even more, amongst the 509 new students matriculating at EWU this fall nearly 30 of them are a part of the institution’s second cohort of graduate students who are enrolled in EWU’s fully online Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree program.  Accordingly, Edward Waters will officially confer the institutions first-ever graduate degrees to its first cohort of MBA students at the close of this academic year in May 2023. In addition, this fall also saw the launch of EWU’s second graduate degree program—the Master of Arts in Education Policy and Advocacy—and a new Bachelor of Forensic Science degree at the undergraduate level. 

The university also recently announced plans to launch an additional five new academic degree programs over the next 12 months including bachelor degrees in Social Work, Computer and Information Science, and Public Health as well two more graduate degree programs including the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Cybersecurity (MS-Cybersecurity).   

Lastly, on September 1, 2022 EWU will officially begin competition as a NCAA Division II institution pursuant to entering year two of its three-year NCAA transition thereby becoming immediately eligible to compete for conference regular season and conference post-season championships as members of the historic Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), which has incorporated 13 of the school’s 16 athletic teams.     

About Edward Waters University

Edward Waters University (EWU), accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), is a private, historically black, urban institution of higher education, which offers a liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on the Christian principles of high moral and spiritual values. EWU was established in 1866 and is an African Methodist Episcopal Church-related institution of learning. It is the first private and independent institution of higher education in the State of Florida.