by Shelby Durden
Jacksonville University Intern
Jacksonville University was founded on April 16, 1934 in downtown Jacksonville as a junior college offering night classes. It quickly became a four-year, co-ed institution and moved to its present location in the Arlington area of Jacksonville in the early 1950s. It currently has approximately 4,200 student attending the university and hundreds of staff members. Jacksonville University is a small liberal arts institution that has made a large impact on the community.
Tim Cost became Jacksonville University’s 12th President on Feb. 1, 2013, and he came in with the mind set of making not only the university, but also the community a better place. Since JU had been celebrating their Charter Day each April 16th, he felt it was a natural fit to incorporate community service by holding a Charter Day of Service. This would take place every year around April 16th, in order to celebrate the schools birthday and have the university as a whole come together to better the community. The faculty is very supportive of this initiative, that they cancel classes for charter day so that people can get out and volunteer.
The school facilitates volunteer opportunities that range from planting gardens to reading books and everything in between. Because the ages of their students, staff and alumni range between 17 and 75, they offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities to accommodate everyone. JU has also started a social media push to encourage their alumni all over the world to get out and volunteer on Charter Day. Jacksonville University understands that when they focus all of their energy together, there is a lot more productivity.
In 2016 Jacksonville University has pledged 25,000 hours of service. President Cost feels that his students who are primarily 18 to 22 really have a strong passion for service work. It is something that the current generation appreciates and gets involved in. By investing in service, President Cost’s desire is for Jacksonville University to not just be “in the community” but “of the community.”
As a graduate of the class of 1981 from Jacksonville University, President Cost recognized that Arlington today was not the amazing Arlington that he left back in 1981. He then began to brainstorm with other university officials on how they could improve the area around them. There were later meetings involving JU along with JEA, The Sheriff, The Mayor, local churches and many other city members to figure out how they could best be of assistance to the Arlington Community. JU ensured that everyone knew that their doors were always open if people needed anything. They have also made many financial contributions as well as hours of community service to take steps to better the community around the campus. This project is now known as Renew Arlington and still has the same goal to better Arlington.
Jacksonville University has numerous athletic teams, Greek life organization, International Student Association, and many other groups of students that are eager to volunteer. All of the students and faculty who volunteer have shown dedication and embodied what it means to be unselfish leaders. The school has made a lasting impact on the community and plan to continue and expand their dedication to Jacksonville.
For their commitment to mobilizing volunteers to meet critical needs in our community, Jacksonville University is receiving the 2016 Tillie Kidd Fowler Award.