History maker: Edward Waters University names 1st female athletic director in program history

Ivana Rich, 10th AD in school history, will lead the Tigers

Dr. Ivana Rich was named the first African-American woman as Edward Waters University's Associate Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. (Edward Waters University)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Edward Waters University, Florida’s oldest HBCU, made history Tuesday with the announcement of its first African-American woman to lead the athletics department in the 155-year history of the institution.

Dr. Ivana Rich was welcomed as the new associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics at a press conference held at the Adams-Jenkins Community Sports and Music Complex.

“I am excited to take this role here at Edward Waters, especially in the 50th anniversary of Title IX to show that there is a need for women leaders and to show that we can do this, and we can sit in that seat. I believe that is critically important,” Rich said.

Rich, who is a proud mother and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is no stranger to the HBCU scene. The previous HBCUs she’s worked for include Norfolk State University, Howard University and Virginia State University.

Dr. Ivana Rich and Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr. (Edward Waters University)

However, those do not include the full list of universities that Rich has worked for. She’s also previously worked at Robert Morris University as an athletic academic support counselor. She was a volleyball coach at Coastal Carolina University and a volunteer assistant coach at Chowan University.

Rich comes to EWU following a seven-year stint at Norfolk State University, where she served in numerous positions such as the acting athletic director, associate athletic director for external relations and senior woman administrator. She was also the department’s diversity and inclusion officer and deputy Title IX coordinator.

EWU President Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr said the university engaged their student-athletes, coaches, alumni, athletic administration, and faculty and staff to be a part of listening sessions to help guide them through the process of selecting the right individual for this position.

“What really resonated with me the most is the feedback from our student-athletes and Dr. Rich connected with them in a phenomenally positive way,” Faison said.

“To be offered the position and to be the finalist for the position, I felt like things were coming into place,” Rich said. “I felt like I’d found a home when they called me and said, ‘You are our final selection.’”

Rich earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she dominated in volleyball as senior captain and helped lead the Lady Rams to the first regular-season conference championship in school history.

Rich furthered her education with a master’s degree in sports management from Virginia State, another master’s degree in human services counseling from Liberty University, and a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction/educational technology from the University of South Carolina.

She is a graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy and a member of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics and Women Leaders in College Sports. Rich is also a member of the 2022 NCAA Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute and currently serves as a subcommittee lead of the N4A Ethnic Concerns Regional Outreach Committee.

Edward Waters University, Florida’s oldest HBCU, made history Tuesday with the announcement of its first African-American woman to lead the athletics department in the 155-year history of the institution.

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As a proud alumnus of Bethune-Cookman University, Kendra is a Jacksonville native, who loves all things lifestyle-related.