It's assumed that anyone who is a former high school basketball,
baseball and football coach has a competitive streak in his makeup.
Combining that with the challenges of a college presidency is a recipe
for success for Dr. William Abare, president of Flagler College in St.
Abare has devoted more than 35 years of his career to the college
and has overcome challenges that would have conquered lesser men. When
he started in 1971 as director of admissions, there were more
applicants for the Flagler presidency than there were students applying
for admission to the college. "Trying to market the institution in the
early years was a very difficult task, more formidable than I ever
imagined," he recalled.
From roughly 200 students when he arrived, Flagler College now
boasts a student body of more than 2,000 with an endowment in excess of
While at Flagler, Abare has played a role in restoring the historic
downtown campus and adding new buildings. The three newest buildings
are an 800-seat auditorium, the technologically-advanced Proctor
Library, and a 104-bed men's residence hall. A new student center is
under construction, and the historic artist studios are being
rehabilitated. Also, the College recently acquired the former Florida
East Coast Railway buildings.
UNF played a significant role in his success. Abare earned a
master's degree in education in 1980. He counts the late Ellis White,
founding dean of UNF's College of Education and Human Services, as one
of his mentors. "In my role as chief academic officer, I frequently
found that I would go back to revisit my notes from UNF classes. I was
quite impressed with the quality of the program," he said.
Abare didn't set out to be a college president. He taught chemistry
and biology at Lanier High School in Macon, Georgia where he also
coached three sports. He became associate director of admissions at
Mercer University in Macon in 1967, which took him on a career path to
West Georgia College in Carrollton and eventually to Flagler. He became
president in 2001, succeeding Dr. William L. Proctor.
In recognition of his achievements in education, Abare received UNF's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2003.
When he's not engaged in Flagler responsibilities, Abare is active
in many state education organizations, including serving as president
of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities. He is also
active in the St. Augustine and Jacksonville chambers of commerce and
past chairman of the Flagler Health Care System.
Abare and his wife, Susan, have been married for 42 years. The
couple has three children, one of whom graduated from UNF with a
master's degree and is a partner in a St. Augustine accounting firm.
Abare still sees many challenges on the horizon, such as how the
college will utilize its newly acquired FEC property. It's a big change
for the college which has been anchored in the former Hotel Ponce de
Leon in downtown since 1968.
Given the previous challenges Abare has overcome, the former high
school coach is confident he will lead Flagler College to be a winner.
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