Mission Statement

The mission of Eckerd College is to provide excellent, innovative undergraduate liberal arts education and lifelong learning programs in the unique Florida environment, within the context of a covenant relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Approved by the Board of Trustees
May 21, 2016

History

Eckerd through the years

The history of Eckerd College is the story of a visionary church, a courageous Board of Trustees, a highly committed faculty and staff, adventurous students, and thousands of friends who turned an idea into a reality. Here are some of the highlights.

May 20, 1958

The Florida Synod of the Presbyterian Church, USA, votes to establish Florida Presbyterian College.

June 27, 1958

William H. Kadel wearing glasses
The United Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church together name William H. Kadel, Ph.D., the first president of Florida Presbyterian College.

Sept. 16, 1958

The Florida Legislature grants the charter for the Florida Presbyterian College, and the Presbyterian synods appoint a board of trustees.

April 22, 1959

President Eisenhower in his office chatting with three men
William H. Kadel,, Congressman William Cramer of St. Petersburg, and Philip J. Lee (the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees) meet with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington D.C. to enroll President Eisenhower as the first charter alumnus of Florida Presbyterian College.

Dec. 14, 1960

The first issue of the student newspaper, The Trident, is released. The issue includes opinion columns about the proper way to launder clothing, the quality of the cafeteria’s food and how the size of the campus is not proportional to the dazzling school spirit the students possess. Also included: a reflection of the required course for all freshmen now known as “The Human Experience.”

Sept. 6, 1960

The first day of classes is held, with 155 freshman and 22 faculty in temporary quarters on Bayboro Harbor in downtown St. Petersburg.

November 1960

Students announce College mascot to be the Triton, a mythological creature with the torso of a man and tail of a fish who calmed the seas with a conch-shell trumpet.

Sept. 24, 1961

Groundbreaking ceremony held for the new campus along Boca Ciega Bay on the southern tip of St. Petersburg. The college received 186 shovels from colleges across the country, including Loyola University, Tulane, Yale, FSU, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The shovels were a symbol of the unity of academia.

June 1962

All but two faculty members submit their resignations to the Board of Trustees to protest decision not to admit first African-American student. In October, the Board reverses position. That young student, Howard Kennedy, later becomes a member of the Board of Trustees.

Dec. 29, 1962

The first International Education Winter Term program takes 30 students to Mexico, led by Sociology Professor Clark Bowman, a founding professor. The course was “An Introduction to the Fields of Anthropology and Archeology in Mexico.” The cost was $275.

September 1963

First classes held at new campus along Boca Ciega Bay.

June 1, 1964

Commencement of the first graduating class takes place at Pasadena Community Church.

Nov. 30, 1966

Florida Presbyterian College receives full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

May 3, 1968

Billy Wireman, a founding faculty member, is named second president, the youngest college president in the country at that time.

September 1, 1968

Black and white photograph of the chapel on terrain with few trees
Wireman Chapel (formerly Griffin Chapel) holds its first service with its purpose—as expressed in the first dedication service on March 9, 1969—to develop the spirit of love, understanding and forgiveness.

Sept. 15, 1970

Twenty-nine students stay at the London Study Centre, the cornerstone of the International Education Program.

June 1971

The two Presbyterian synods transfer full control of the college to a self-perpetuating board of trustees and affirms a covenant relationship between the college and the Church.

September 1971

FPC Search, Rescue and Safety Team (providing services to the public since 1977 as Eckerd College Search and Rescue), the only volunteer student rescue group recently recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, is established.

October 20, 1971

Two dozen African-American students hold a sit-in at Brown Hall to protest treatment of African-American students on campus and to encourage greater diversity among students, faculty and staff.

July 1, 1972

After Board of Trustees member Jack Eckerd gives $10 million to Florida Presbyterian College—the College’s single largest gift at the time, the name of Florida Presbyterian College is changed to Eckerd College.

August 27, 1973

The first day of classes for the first ever Autumn Term program, which was part of “Project ’73.” Project ’73 establishes the Autumn Term program, the Collegium structure, and the role of faculty members as mentors.

November 30, 1977

The Program for Experienced Learners (PEL) is established. First classes were offered in January 1978. The accredited program was open to degree-seeking adults and offered some college credit for documented life experience.

March 21, 1977

Board of Trustees Chairman Jack Eckerd named interim president.

April 29, 1978

Inauguration of Peter Armacost as the College’s third president.

October 31, 1982

The Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC) is officially inaugurated with 14 charter members.

Fall 1986

November 20, 1991

Groundbreaking of the Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory.

April 15, 1993

Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory (GMSL) is dedicated, reinforcing the Marine Science major (established in 1982) as one of the finest and most unique in the country. The GMSL was made possible primarily by a gift of $2.9 million from John and Rosemary Galbraith.

August 14, 2000

Eugene Hotchkiss, President Emeritus of Lake Forest College, is named to a one-year term as interim president.

July 1, 2001

Donald R. Eastman III becomes the College’s fourth President.

August 9, 2003

The Phi Beta Kappa Society awards the Zeta Chapter of Florida to Eckerd College at the 40th Council.

January 22, 2005

Writers in Paradise annual conference is created by co-directors novelist Dennis Lehane ’88 and Professor Sterling Watson ’68.

January 21, 2013

June 2015

James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences earns LEED Platinum designation.

October 27, 2016

Dedication ceremony held for the Doyle Sailing Center.

February 9, 2018