Joyner inaugurated as college’s fourth president

Joseph Joyner takes the podium after being officially inaugurated as president. Photo: Katie Garwood

By Katie Garwood |

Surrounded by dignitaries, trustees, faculty, students and alumni, Joseph Joyner was officially inaugurated as the fourth president of Flagler College Saturday morning.

The inauguration ceremony held in Lewis Auditorium, was the first of its kind in the college’s 50-year history. Joyner officially stepped into his role as president over the summer after being chosen by a search committee that looked nationwide for a replacement for William Abare, who served as president of the college for 15 years. Joyner previously served as superintendent of St. Johns County Schools.

Those who spoke in the ceremony sat alongside Joyner on-stage, and included Florida State University President John Thrasher, University of Central Florida President John Hitt, St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver, Flagler faculty, staff and students.

Former Flagler presidents William Proctor and William Abare were in attendance for the inauguration. Photo: Katie Garwood

Two former Flagler presidents, William Proctor and William Abare were also onstage, and were there to pass along the presidency to Joyner, by placing a medallion around his neck, which is the symbol of the “high office” at Flagler.

“While I may be an unworthy servant, I possess a great deal of passion and determination and it is my firm intention to continue to bring greatness to this wonderful college,” Joyner said.

In Joyner’s speech, he acknowledged his father who passed away, and credited him with sparking his passion for education.

“He is without question my inspiration for pursuing educational leadership,” Joyner said. “I just so much wanted to be like my dad.”

Events held throughout the week built up to Saturday’s inauguration, following the theme “Citizenship in a Diverse Democracy,” which Joyner said could not have been a more appropriate message. Events included alumni and scholar panels, lectures and a naturalization ceremony.

“Our classrooms should be models of democracy and action,” Joyner said, quoting the Association of American College and Universities.  “The skills students need to form better understanding are very similar to those they need to become engaged citizens in a pluralistic democracy.”

Frank Upchurch, William Abare and William Proctor prepare to inaugurate President Joseph Joyner. Photo: Katie Garwood

Thrasher, president of the university where Joyner received his bachelor’s degree, said he and Joyner met when he was a state legislator and Joyner was superintendent of St. Johns County Schools.

“It’s impossible not to like him, it’s impossible not to respect him,” Thrasher said. “He has a leader’s courage, a scholar’s curiosity and a servant’s heart.”

As for the future of the institution, Joyner said he feels a responsibility to lead the college to a new level, but that can’t be done all on his own. He said he’s spent a large chunk of time meeting with members of the college community to find the direction best suited for the college to take going forward.

“In the end, what’s most important is building an organization that has trust as its foundation,” Joyner said. “We are distinguished by our character and our integrity and our priority is always the students that we serve.”

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