SAINT AUGUSTINE — More than 450 people paid tribute to retiring Flagler College President Dr. William T. Abare Jr. on Wednesday night, with a sendoff that included the announcement that a new student residential complex will be named Abare Hall and the presentation of a presidential medal.
The event celebrated Abare’s career at Flagler, which has spanned 46 years, including 16 as president of the college. He will step down from the presidency at the end of June.
Flagler Board of Trustees Chairman Frank D. Upchurch III made it official that the $23 million student housing complex under construction on King and Malaga Streets along the banks of the San Sebastian River will be named for the president. It will open this fall, and will house 148 upperclassmen. He also presented Abare with the Flagler College Presidential Medal, which has only been given to one other person: former President and Chancellor William L. Proctor.
Speakers heaped praise on Abare for his years of service. “His legacy is evident when you look across this campus, and even the town,” said Flagler alumna Diane Evia-Lanevi, ’87. “However, I believe his greatest legacy lies in the relationships that he has forged with the students and the alumni throughout his 46 years here at Flagler College.”
Assistant Professor of Humanities Steve Voguit said he was always drawn to Abare’s sincerity and passion for what he was doing. “Bill Abare cares deeply about this place,” he said. “But most importantly, he cares so much about the students who choose to come here, and about those of us who are fortunate enough to teach here.”
Other speakers included former St. Augustine Mayor Greg Baker, former Flagler Board of Trustees member Delores Lastinger and Chancellor Proctor, who gave a tribute to Abare’s wife, Susan.
Abare has been president of Flagler College since 2001, and has worked at Flagler College since 1971 when he was hired as director and dean of Admissions. Prior to serving as president, Abare was executive vice president and dean of Academic Affairs at Flagler for 12 years.
He announced his retirement in spring of 2016 saying, “The more I thought about it, I realized there was never going to be a perfect time. There will always be another initiative to begin, another program to get underway, another project to start and finish, another fundraising effort to mount. There isn’t a perfect time. I just felt like this was the right time.”
Dr. Joseph G. Joyner, former superintendent of schools for the St. Johns County District in St. Augustine, was named president of Flagler in November and will officially begin July 1.