Letter to the Editor: Marc Williar was my mentor

Opinion G logoThe following was submitted by Flagler College alumnus Kristin Pankiw:

By Kristin Pankiw | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Marc Williar was, and remains, a mentor and friend of mine. After deciding to transfer to Flagler halfway through my college career, I reached out to Williar personally. A few years previously, we had been in contact after I withdrew my application to Flagler to accept a scholarship at Dickinson College. At that time, Williar replied to my email to express his regret in losing an applicant but also his well wishes in my future college endeavors. I was impressed by his genuine response; no other college from which I withdrew my application took the time to acknowledge my email, nor did I expect them to. But it was Williar’s thoughtful attention that made me second guess my decision for the next two years. His conduct made me realize that Flagler was the community I had been looking for: close-knit, personable, professional, and intelligent.

Without Williar’s guidance and help, I could not proudly call myself an alumnus of Flagler College today. During my transfer process, Williar answered all my questions, put me in touch with amazing faculty in my major, and most importantly, gave me unbiased advice. His support and diligence are something for which I will always be grateful. The news of Williar’s actions was definitely shocking and saddening. I can certainly understand if Flagler College students, faculty and staff harbor feelings of anger and distrust for Williar. However, my hope is that the community of Flagler would remember that one mistake does not define a man’s entire character. Each and every one of us has made judgment errors and faulty choices in life–some with greater consequences than others. And I by no means excuse Williar’s actions; the decision he made was wrong and it is obvious that he has acknowledged this fact and accepted responsibility for it. His immediate resignation, regret and apology certainly aid in showing his integrity.

Most students I knew during my time at Flagler did not even bother to become acquainted with Williar. But I did. During my time at Flagler, Williar and I became friends, grabbing lunch on occasion or conversing about college, classes and community. Even now, I am glad to have done so.

Although disappointed by what has happened, I will not wholly dismiss Williar’s character and person because of it. The Marc Williar I know is thoughtful, intelligent, altruistic and extremely loyal. If it were not so, why did Williar, an alumnus of Flagler himself, spend an additional 26 years serving the college? In fact, he was a recipient of the Flagler Pride award, the highest honor from the college. It is so evident to me that Williar loved Flagler College more than anything. It is truly a shame that, in trying to help his alma mater, his judgment was clouded. But I do encourage Flagler College to remember forgiveness during this time.

Flagler College will remain a wonderful institution of higher learning, I am sure of it. Misreported data may change our ranking (an unreliable and inaccurate means of judging colleges anyway, especially considering one pays to partake in the studies, but I digress). However, it will not change the quality of the education, community and intellect of the college. I will always be proud to call myself a Flagler alumnus, and I will always be grateful to Marc Williar for his guidance and support during my time there.

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