Professor profile: Dr. Arthur Vanden Houten

By Sarah Vaccaro |
Photo by Brenna Antram

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”


Aristotle’s words represent the level of excellence Dr. Arthur Vanden Houten aims for.

Vanden Houten, Associate Professor of Political Science, earned a Ph.D in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of South Carolina.

Vanden Houten teaches “History of Political Thought” and “International Relations.”

Vanden Houten’s three favorite philosophers are Thucydides, Thomas Hobbes and Blaise Pascal. His favorite book to teach is Aeschylus’s, The Oresteia.

International Relations, on the other hand, consists of the studies of foreign affairs, which draws upon political science as well as economics, philosophy and law, among other disciplines.
Vanden Houten started teaching at Flagler College in 1997.

“My hope was to go to a small school with a heavy emphasis on teaching,” Vanden Houten said.

Vanden Houten expects similar enthusiasm and dedication from his students.

“You have to work hard when you’re in his class and he expects you to do your share of work but he also helps us to reach our goals,” senior Bradley Sohn said.

Vanden Houten also serves as the Chairman of the Faculty Senate.

“Dr. Vanden Houten has provided great leadership. He is challenging, really bright and dedicated to Flagler College,” Faculty Senate Vice Chair Barbara Blonder said.

Vanden Houten admits that, at one point, he was uncertain on whether he would go to graduate school or take the job on Wall Street.

“He’s absolutely the best teacher I’ve had. He’s intelligently engaging and he listens to students,” senior Chelsea Keefe said.

Vanden teaches students how to cultivate capacity for moral and political reflection. He leads students to start thinking now about their place in this world.

“He’s the finest asset to Flagler College,” senior Chris Rodgers said.

“Looking back, so much of what I do in the classroom from my approach and teaching styles plagiarizes from my previous teachers,” Vanden Houten said.

“He honestly thinks about the questions students ask and truthfully answers back. If he doesn’t know the answer he will say so. He is very dedicated,” sophomore Chris Martucci said.

“I put important and enduring books and ideas in front of students. I try to get them to read, discuss, write and think about them in the classroom and outside. What I love is that I can have full control in the classroom on what I want to teach. It gives me great energy and the time goes by so fast. I definitely feel lucky. I wasn’t confident at any stage in my life and always expected the worse. I was afraid I would be revealed as an imposter as an undergraduate, which made me work really hard, but I was rewarded. I hope to improve the experience for students and enrich their lives,” Vanden Houten said.

He has passed this knowledge and wisdom down for 12 years here at Flagler College. Vanden Houten has come certainly come a long way from being the first generation college student in his family.

Keefe notes that she was a half credit short of graduation and Vanden Houten saved her from it having to graduate late.

“Dr. Vanden Houten dedicated his time for an independent study so I can graduate on time. He also has helped me tremendously with applying to grad schools,” Keefe said.

Vanden Houten’s ability to help students has helped them realize that anything is possible if you work hard and put your mind to it.

He dreamed of working on Wall Street, but then he fell in love with reading and thinking and the study of liberal arts.
“Dr. Vanden Houten and I share a common vision of academic excellence. I hold him in the highest regard as teacher and as colleague,” Assistant Professor Dr. Hugh Marlowe said.

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