Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is a private, coeducational university with a history dating from the early days of aviation. Students are enrolled in one of two residential campuses located in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona or in Embry-Riddle Worldwide, composed of over 130 non-residential campuses and online programs. The residential campuses provide education in a traditional setting while Embry-Riddle Worldwide serves civilian and military working adults.

Embry-Riddle began in 1925 as the Embry-Riddle Company, an aircraft dealer and airmail provider, founded by Talton Higbee Embry and John Paul Riddle in Cincinnati, Ohio. Embry-Riddle was eventually incorporated into what is now American Airlines, before reforming during the buildup to World War II in Miami, Florida as the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, and later, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute. Embry-Riddle moved to Daytona Beach, Florida in 1965 and was renamed Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1970. The Prescott, Arizona campus opened in 1978.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the only accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world. Utilizing a fleet of over 90 aircraft, the university serves culturally diverse students primarily motivated toward careers in aviation and aerospace. The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and a recently announced PhD in Aviation at the residential campuses and through Embry-Riddle Worldwide. Associate's degrees and non-degree programs are also offered by Embry-Riddle Worldwide.


Early days

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University began on December 17, 1925, exactly 22 years after the Wright Brothers' first flight, when Talton Higbee Embry and John Paul Riddle formed the Embry-Riddle Company at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company was financed by Embry, a wealthy aviation enthusiast who served as company president. Riddle was named general manager, and the two began to sell Waco Aircraft in Cincinnati. In spring of 1926 (the date shown on the university seal), the Embry-Riddle Company opened the Embry-Riddle Flying School. On December 17, 1927, the Embry-Riddle Company established Cincinnati's first regular air mail service, from Cincinnati to Chicago.

The school grew rapidly in 1928 and 1929, until the Embry-Riddle Company (now the Embry-Riddle Aviation Corporation) was merged with the Aviation Corporation (AVCO) of Delaware. AVCO phased out the Embry-Riddle Flying School in the fall of 1930. Shortly after, AVCO became American Airways (the predecessor of American Airlines), and the Embry-Riddle Company was gone.

In 1939, Riddle was ready to get back into the business of training pilots. He contacted Embry, who had no interest in reentering a partnership with Riddle. Riddle, now living in Miami, Florida , found a partner in John G. McKay and his wife Isabel. Keeping the Embry-Riddle name, they reestablished the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, partnering with the University of Miami to provide flight training under the Civilian Pilot Training Program, increasing the number of pilots immediately preceding World War II. The Embry-Riddle School of Aviation expanded rapidly, and soon moved to the former Fritz Hotel.

Riddle and McKay also formed the Riddle Aeronautical Institute at Carlstrom Field in early 1941 for the purpose of training pilots for the United States Army Air Corps. A separate division of Embry-Riddle provided technical training in maintenance and metal work. Following Pearl Harbor, Embry-Riddle and its various divisions expanded rapidly to train professionals during the war, and the Carlstrom Field facility trained pilots for the Royal Air Force, while nearby Dorr Field prepared pilots for advanced training with the U.S. Army Air Forces.

Embry-Riddle quickly exhausted the market for flight training. In 1944, McKay purchased Riddle's share of Embry-Riddle.

Development into a university

Following the end of World War II, the McKays continued the business of training pilots. After John McKay's death in 1951, his wife Isabel McKay led the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute. The school endured financial hardship but continued to operate in its Miami home. Isabel McKay suffered a stroke in 1961 and in 1963 sold the school. That same year, Jack R. Hunt was named the first president of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute. ERAI continued the training of pilots and mechanics in Miami until April 1965, when Hunt moved the campus to its current home in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Embry-Riddle's move from Miami was accomplished by a group of Daytona Beach civic leaders known as the Committee of 100. The school was packed into trucks and moved nearly overnight. Known as "Operation Bootstrap", the move was accomplished with the help of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, which supplied the trucks.

The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1968, and was renamed Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1970.

Hunt headed a large expansion of Embry-Riddle, including the purchase of a second campus in Prescott, Arizona in 1978. Embry-Riddle purchased the former campus of Prescott College, which closed abruptly in 1974 from financial hardship. Hunt served as president until his death January 7, 1984. Hunt was followed by Lt. General Kenneth L. Tallman, who in his five years as president, formed Embry-Riddle's first graduate program. Tallman also added undergraduate degrees in Engineering Physics and Electrical Engineering. Current president John P. Johnson credits Tallman with moving ERAU from a technical school to a university.

Embry-Riddle's third president was Dr. Steven M. Sliwa, who ran the university from 1991 until 1998. Sliwa oversaw the largest expansion in Embry-Riddle's history, developing new majors and a capital expansion in excess of $100 million. This includes the ICI Center (fieldhouse), Lehman Engineering and Technology Center, Capt. Willie Miller Instructional Center and Student Village on the Daytona Beach campus. Sliwa was followed by Dr. George H. Ebbs, who was president until November 2005. Ebbs expanded the university into several affiliate programs, and was president during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks federal investigators thought that the school may have trained at least one of the aircraft hijackers. However, after a short investigation, ERAU was fully exonerated from any involvement in the flight training of the terrorists. Although a former student shared the same name as one of the hijackers, that former student was still alive and had no connections to Al-Qaeda.

During his tenure as president, Ebbs expanded Embry-Riddle into non-traditional university projects, such as Embry-Riddle's Commercial Airline Pilot Training program (CAPT program), which was sold in 2006. Ebbs also entered the university into a five-year contract with The United States Air Force Academy for Embry-Riddle to provide flight training for its cadets in 2002.

Embry-Riddle's fifth president is Dr. John P. Johnson. Johnson was previously University Provost and Interim President. He was selected after a national search by the Board of Trustees on August 8, 2006.

Christmas Day tornado

On December 25, 2006 at approximately 1:45 p.m. an F2 tornado touched down in Daytona Beach, causing major damage to the Embry-Riddle campus. Several university buildings were damaged, and both the main administration building (Spruance Hall) and the aircraft fleet maintenance hangar were destroyed. Approximately 50 aircraft were damaged or destroyed. Damage was estimated at $50 million.

As a result of the tornado, the beginning of the spring semester was delayed from January 10, 2007 until January 16, 2007. Also as a result of the tornado, the planned upgrade of the Cessna 172 aircraft fleet to glass cockpit instruments was accelerated.


Embry-Riddle is organized into two residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona, and the worldwide campus. Embry-Riddle Worldwide consists of over 130 distance learning centers (many at community colleges and military bases), Worldwide Online (which offers degrees through internet classes), and the Center for Professional Education (which offers continuing education credits and non-degree programs).

Dr. John P. Johnson is the university president. Dr. Richard H. Heist serves as provost and chief academic officer, and directly oversees the deans of each college. Each campus is led by a chancellor, and is organized into colleges and departments. University-wide departments are headed by vice-presidents.

The university offers bachelor's and master's degrees at the residential campuses and through Embry-Riddle Worldwide. Associate's degrees and non-degree programs are also offered by Embry-Riddle Worldwide.

Daytona Beach, Florida campus

Embry-Riddle's largest residential campus and academic headquarters is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. The site has been the home to Embry-Riddle since it moved from Miami in 1965. Built adjacent to the Daytona Beach International Airport, the campus has easy access for flight training. The main campus consists of an aviation complex, academic quad and residence halls surrounding the student center and Jack R. Hunt Aviator Park. Athletic facilities are located at the east end of campus, anchored by the ICI Center.

Total spring 2008 enrollment at the Daytona Beach campus is 4,562; 4186 undergraduate and 376 graduate students. Aeronautical science (flight training) and aerospace engineering are the two most popular degrees at the Daytona Beach campus. Daytona Beach's aerospace engineering degree program ranks number one in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings of aerospace engineering degree schools without a Ph.D. program. Embry-Riddle has received this honor every year since the category was introduced in 2001.

Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus has one of the most extensive ROTC programs in the nation, and the nation's largest Air Force ROTC program. The ROTC program frequently wins national competitions. The engineering physics program at the Daytona Beach campus is currently the largest undergraduate engineering physics program in the country and the only one specializing in aerospace.

The Daytona Beach campus sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports. The Eagles are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Region XIV and compete in the Florida Sun Conference. Embry-Riddle's athletics are directed by basketball head-coach Steve Ridder. On October 2, 2006, Ridder was named NAIA National Athletic Director of the Year. Ridder led the school to its only national title in any sport in 2000, in basketball.

Prescott, Arizona campus

Embry-Riddle opened its second and smallest residential campus in 1978 at Prescott, Arizona. The campus is located among Arizona's Bradshaw Mountains approximately from Prescott's airport, Ernest A. Love Field. The campus is a mix of old buildings from when the campus was home to Prescott College and modern facilities built by Embry-Riddle. Recent construction projects include a new library, dining hall, ROTC facility and chapel.

Total spring 2008 student enrollment at the Prescott campus was 1,546 students, including 30 graduate students.

The Prescott campus has the only Global Security and Intelligence Studies program in the country. This degree program focuses on important global issues such as terrorism, information warfare, transportation security, illicit trafficking networks, corporate security, population dislocations, natural disasters, widespread epidemics, international crime and homeland security.

The Prescott campus is home to the Golden Eagles Flight Team, which competes in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association. Prescott's Golden Eagles Flight Team has won the regional championship each year for the past 22 years, and also won the national championship in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Worldwide campus

Embry-Riddle Worldwide consists of over 130 distance learning centers (many at community colleges and military bases), Worldwide Online (which offers degrees through internet classes), and the Center for Professional Education (which offers continuing education credits and non-degree programs). In the 2006-2007 school year over 27,000 students were enrolled in the worldwide campus.

Notable alumni

Embry-Riddle Alumni include six astronauts, a former U.S. Congressman, and a former White House Fellow. Approximately 25 percent of commercial airline pilots have graduated from Embry-Riddle.

Recent News

August, 2008 - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recently announced they are now offering a PhD in Aviation that will commence in May of 2009. Students will eventually be able to specialize in three categories; Operations, Safety and Security (although just Operations will be offered at first).

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