The man at the helm of Jacksonville’s historic Edward Waters College for the past seven years after two terms as the first African-American sheriff in the city has announced his retirement.
Saying it is “time to transition,” 74-year-old Nat Glover said he would like to leave his office at the 151-year-old historically black college on Kings Road by May 2018 and remain as a volunteer adviser to the school.
The college’s 29th president reiterates that he’s not been fired or forced out — it’s just part of his “personal timetable.”
“I would like to move on to the next phase of my life and that is teaching leadership and doing leadership seminars,” Glover said Thursday evening. “I think sometimes we stay in these positions too long and think no one else can do it. But Edward Waters College is so dear to me … this has been a foundation for my success.”
One man who worked for decades with Glover and was elected to lead the Sheriff’s Office after him is John Rutherford, now a congressman. Calling his former boss a “deep man of faith,” Rutherford said he’s sure Glover will continue to train others in leadership as he did with him over the years.
“It’s incredible the career he’s had and the impact he’s had, not just on Jacksonville but Northeast Florida and Florida,” Rutherford said from Washington. “I was blessed with 28 years with him, and Nat was kind of a mentor with me. I worked with him through various channels of command and he was always a great boss. You worked with him, not for him, and I always appreciated that. He let me grow, and sometimes made you grow.”
Glover was born and raised in Jacksonville, going through the local public school system before enrolling at Edward Waters where he played football and earned a bachelor of science degree in social science. After earning a master’s degree in education from the University of North Florida, he joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1966 and moved up to detective, then sergeant by 1974, heading the hostage negotiation team through 1986. Advancing through the department, he served as chief, then deputy director of police services before his 1991 appointment as director. A graduate of the FBI National Academy and Leadership Jacksonville, he was elected sheriff in 1995 before retiring in 2003. He ran for mayor, then chaired Mayor John Peyton’s transition team.
Glover has also served as a special adviser to University of North Florida President John Delaney, promoting higher education, college recruitment and drop-out prevention while serving on the Edward Waters College Board of Trustees. It is that past as a cop and his return to his alma mater that Glover said feels the best for him now.
“I had made a career in law enforcement, arresting and putting young people in jail. Then I have an opportunity to become president of my alma mater, and I have the chance to educate and graduate young men,” Glover said. “That was the epitome of redemption in my mind. In so many instances, I had to arrest people and I entertained a heavy heart doing it. Seeing these people walk across the stage and get their degrees, and me being responsible for their education, has been the epitome. It has been one of my greatest blessings.”
The man who holds the sheriff’s seat now, Mike Williams, congratulated Glover on his upcoming retirement.
“I’m proud to call him a friend and mentor,” Williams said. “He should be very proud of his two outstanding careers. In both he served this community with distinction. Godspeed on your retirement.”
Glover began serving as interim president of EWC in May 2010. The position was made permanent eight months later by the board of trustees to oversee the students and 31-building campus. Saying he hates to “beat my own drum” about his accomplishments there, he is proud of the academic achievements in recent years and helping the community that surrounds it.
“If I was talking about most significant, I would talk about the restoration of the support from this community and the reaffirmation of our accreditation with no feedback from the accrediting agency,” Glover said. “No sanctions, no follow-up, no advice, a clean accreditation and that’s quite an accomplishment in higher education. And I cannot minimize the investment that the city of Jacksonville is making in Edward Waters College. That too is so significant and it speaks louder than the dollars that they invested.”
The most recent investment was approved by the City Council this week — $4.4 million in Mayor Lenny Curry’s city budget for a community-accessible athletic field at college and another $4 million in his Safe Neighborhoods budget to renovate the campus’ aging student dormitories. Glover, Curry and other community leaders announced the city funding at a July 5 news conference, with the mayor calling it an investment in EWC students and the surrounding New Town community.
“They did approve it overwhelmingly. We had one council member who felt the money should be diverted to drainage and sewage, and I was told he could not get a second on that amendment,” Glover said. “Oh yes, I am certain it will be part of my legacy. But make no mistake about it, I will be remaining at Edward Waters College in some volunteer capacity, probably on the foundation board. And I will be as close to the new president as he or she needs me to be.”
Rutherford said he knows Glover will remain a big part of the school.
“A level of leadership that you share those with the next group coming up, that’s part of your responsibility,” Rutherford said. “He’s always done that and it doesn’t surprise me. I think there’s a lot of sharing he can certainly do.”
The search for a new Edward Waters College president has already begun with a search firm hired, Glover said.