Eckerd College

Eckerd College is a private Presbyterian liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, Florida. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Eckerd College
TypePrivate, coeducational, residential
Religious affiliation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Endowment$58.3 million[1]
PresidentDonald R. Eastman III
Location, ,
United States
Campus188 acres (0.76 km2), suburban
ColorsTeal, Navy, and Black
AthleticsNCAA Division IISunshine State


Eckerd was founded as Florida Presbyterian College in 1958 as part of national growth in post-secondary education driven by GIs entering college after returning from World War II and later by the baby boom of children. The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (Southern) worked together to start the college, receiving a charter from the Florida legislature in 1958 and opening in 1960. The college opened in temporary quarters at Bayboro Harbor with a liberal arts focus and 154 freshmen;[2] it had 310 freshmen and sophomores in January 1962, when it was about to expand with the addition of a junior class,[3] and began the 1966–1967 academic year with 810 students.[4] In 1971, Jack Eckerd donated $10 million to the college and the following year the institution's name was changed to Eckerd College.[5] A covenant relationship is still maintained with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In the 1980s, college President Peter Armacost decided to spend much of the college's endowment on real estate development — specifically, building waterfront homes and a retirement center on college-owned land next to the main campus. In 2000, the Board of Trustees discovered that more than half of Eckerd's endowment had disappeared. Armacost retired, the vice president for finance resigned, and the college eventually lost the partially developed land.[6] In February 2004, the college announced that it had regained solvency.[7]

In May 2006, Miles Collier, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, and his wife, Parker Collier, announced a $25 million challenge gift to the college;[8] they subsequently increased this to $40 million.[9] In November 2008, alumnus Grover Wrenn, a member of the founding class in 1960, gave the college a $1 million gift, the largest from an alumnus.[10]

Presidents of the college

  • William Kadel[3] (1958–1968)
  • Billy Wireman (1968–1977)
  • (interim) Jack Eckerd (1977)
  • Peter Armacost (1977–2000)
  • (interim) Eugene Hotchkiss (2000–2001)
  • Donald R. Eastman III (July 1, 2001 – present)


Eckerd College awards Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Some 39 majors are offered, including Marine Science, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, International Business, Creative Writing. Students can also design their own majors.

Eckerd College originated the 4-1-4 academic calendar,[11] with the "1" representing the Winter Term during the month of January, in which each student concentrates on a single class. Before graduation, students in nearly all majors are required to either pass a senior-year comprehensive examination or to complete a senior thesis project. All students must complete a senior seminar course in their final year.

Among undergraduate research opportunities are available to students is D.A.R.W.I.N., a computer science project (partnered closely with marine science) to automate dolphin dorsal fin recognition.[12] Another is the Eckerd College Dolphin Project, the longest running undergraduate-centered dolphin research program in the world.[13] A United States Geological Survey center in St. Petersburg provides further research opportunities.

Eckerd students have won more NOAA Hollings Scholarships than students at any other school (66 recipients as of 2016).[14] Phi Beta Kappa (Eckerd is one of the youngest colleges in the country to be awarded a chapter) and Sigma Xi are among the nationally recognized academic societies at Eckerd College. Eckerd's Ethics Bowl teams have consistently captured awards in intercollegiate competition, winning the competition for seven straight years (2004-2011).

Supporting the academic program is the Peter H. Armacost library, a $15 million facility opened in January 2005. The 55,000 sq ft (5,100 m2) two-story library is located near the college's student center and dormitories. It houses book and periodical collections and features seating for about 400, including 17 group-study rooms and 58 computer stations. Both high-speed cable and wireless connectivity are available throughout the library.[15]

Students can study abroad, including at the Eckerd College Study Centre on London's Gower Street. Foreign students attend Eckerd, which also offers short-term English-immersion courses in a dedicated campus facility.

Since 1980, Eckerd College has also been the home of the Leadership Development Institute for managers and executives.[16]


Eckerd College is also one of 40 liberal arts schools profiled in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives,[17] and was ranked tied for 140th of 223 national liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for 2020.[18]


Eckerd College has a suburban 188-acre (0.76 km2) campus on Frenchman's Creek and Boca Ciega Bay, about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Gulf of Mexico beaches. The campus is near residential and commercial neighborhoods of St. Petersburg.

The college has various sustainability efforts, including bikesharing systems and efforts to reduce plastic waste.[19]

The school is ranked on the Princeton Review's list of Green Colleges[20] for its sustainability efforts.

The college has several architectural styles, but a common feature is the use of glass and external views to emphasize a connection with the environment. Recent campus additions include the Peter H. Armacost Library, Iota residential housing complex, sports facilities, a renovated student center and the renovated Miller Auditorium. Other campus buildings include those designed and used for classrooms, laboratories, offices, conferences, theatrical productions, musical instruction, art exhibits, athletic events, and student services.

The James Center For Molecular and Life Sciences, a 51,000-square-foot (4,700 m2), US$25 million laboratory facility, opened in February 2013. In Summer 2015, the college was to break ground on a $15 million arts building, bringing together visual and digital arts disciplines currently found across several buildings. The construction of the Sailing Cove is underway on the Western end of the campus beach. Both projects incorporate green initiatives and feature natural landscaping to accent the facilities.[21]

Campus life and activities

Eckerd College maintains a regular series of on-campus events for the benefit and enjoyment of campus and community. The music, theatre, and art programs are active in staging concerts, dramatic productions, and artistic shows, respectively, throughout the academic year. On-campus speakers have included the late nobel laureate in economics, Milton Friedman, the late Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, Jimmy Carter, Michael Collins, Anderson Cooper, Jared Diamond, Gerald Ford, Stephen Jay Gould, Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, Stephen King, Henry Kissinger, Richard Leakey, Dennis Lehane, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, William Proxmire, Paul Rusesabagina, Helmut Schmidt, Peter Singer, James Van Allen, Elie Wiesel, and Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

Eckerd's student government, the Eckerd College Organization of Students, gives an annual total of more than $500,000 to more than 100 student-run clubs and organizations, including Eckerd's student newspaper (The Current), a radio station (WECX), a student programming board, Palmetto Productions, sports clubs, cultural clubs, and various academic-related clubs, such as those for anthropology, art, biology, chemistry, philosophy, law, and foreign languages.

Among the service clubs are campus chapters of Amnesty International, Circle K, and Habitat for Humanity. Eckerd College also hosts the EC Coalition for Community Justice, a group seeking to raise campus housekeepers' wages.

Eckerd's Waterfront Program is a center of watersport activities, such as sailing team, skiing, kayaking, and fishing. An award-winning student group, Eckerd College Search and Rescue (EC-SAR), helps the U.S. Coast Guard in rescue operations throughout the Tampa Bay area.

About 80% of Eckerd students live in on-campus residence halls that are either co-educational or all-female; there are no all-male dorms. Eckerd College has 11 residence hall complexes, each with a name from the Greek alphabet. Among these, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Kappa, and Iota complexes offer traditional dorm-style housing. Omega and Nu complexes house upperclassmen, and are organized around suites on each floor. An on-campus hotel was recently converted for student use, and is now called Sigma complex. The newest dorm complex, Iota, opened on September 30, 2006.

Since 1973, Eckerd College has set aside pet-friendly housing for students wishing to bring small animals to campus.[22] Every spring, a separate graduation ceremony is held for outgoing pets, complete with "diplomas" presented by the president. Other special housing includes a "Health and Wellness House" and "Community Service" house and an "Environmental House". The Campus also build a pet park in 2014 for community use.


Eckerd College is a member of the Sunshine State Conference (NCAA Division II) fielding 13 athletic teams in coed and women's sailing, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, baseball, volleyball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, and softball. The Eckerd varsity sailing team competes nationally as a member of the SAISA (the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association) and is a member of the ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association). The college's basketball and volleyball teams play in the McArthur Physical Education Center's gymnasium. A swimming pool, adjacent to the gymnasium, is open to all students. Eckerd's mascot is the Triton, and the school's colors, teal, navy and black were adopted by the athletic programs in 2005; previously the school's colors had been black, red, and white.

In 2006, for the first time in the 24-year history of the Eckerd College Women's Volleyball program, the Tritons qualified for the NCAA South Region tournament.

In addition to Division II teams, Eckerd students also participate in club sports such as rugby union, lacrosse, and field hockey. The Eckerd College Men's Lacrosse Team finished the 2006 season ranked #3 in the National Collegiate Club Lacrosse Poll, with a 13-1 record. Since its founding in 2003 the team has captured two state championships, a regional championship, and a third-place national finish. In 2000, the Eckerd's Men's club Volleyball Team won the NIRSA Division II Sports Club Volleyball Championships in Reno, Nevada.

Notable people

Notable alumni

Retired or part-time faculty

See also


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  2. Wilbur, William C. (October 8, 1991). "Eckerd College: a proud part of the community". St. Petersburg Times (opinion). p. 2.
  3. "Gettysburg Native Building Campus For Presbyterian College He Heads in Florida". The Gettysburg Times. January 30, 1962. p. 3.
  4. "Presbyterian College Budget At $1,138,000". St. Petersburg Independent. October 15, 1966. p. 5A.
  5. Press, The Associated (2004-05-20). "Jack Eckerd, 91, the Founder Of a Chain of Drugstores". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
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Further reading

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