Judge Poland (center) with Flagler alumna Colby Keefe, ’12, and President William T. Abare, Jr.
The founding director of Flagler College’s Law program, Professor Richard Poland, is retiring this year after serving the college for 25 years. Judge Poland, as he is often referred to on campus, has taught nearly 30 courses, fulfilled various leadership roles — including Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs — and has twice received the Faculty of the Year Award (2007-2008 and 2009-2010).
“I will soon be 70 and that is a magic number for me,” he said. “I want to travel and do charity work, reading, softball and spend more time with my family. Every year here at Flagler has been a wonderful experience.”
A retirement ceremony was held for Poland this week. College administrators, faculty, staff and alumni gathered at Markland House to celebrate the memories and contributions of the retiring professor — now a Professor Emeritus. Associate Professor of Law and History Tracy Upchurch was one colleague in attendance. He became the law program’s director in 2013 when Poland began his phased retirement.
“Rick deserves all the credit in the world for creating a pre-law program that’s second to none,” he said. “He has attracted a high number of high-performing students that have gone on to prestigious law schools.”
Alumnus Jonathan Growick, ’08, is one of those students who recalls vividly the impact of the famous judge.
“He is the reason I came to Flagler College,” he said at the reception. “I knew I wanted to do pre-law and was really impressed by him.”
Growick, who is now the 7th Judicial Circuit Managing Attorney for the state’s Children’s Legal Services, said that Poland did everything in his power to ensure that students in the program were more than prepared for the rigorous demands of law school.
“He really went the extra mile with us,” Growick said. “He’s big on writing well, and made it clear from the first class that he was here to teach us how to write like a lawyer. It made all the difference.”
The Flagler alum graduated from Regent University School of Law in 2011.
Prior to coming to St. Augustine, Poland served as a practicing attorney and judge in Maine. At Flagler, he held various roles beyond that of a professor, including chair of the Academic Program Accessibility Committee, Flagler College Senator, chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee and faculty sponsor of Phi Alpha Delta, among others. He has written and published articles in publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, National Jurist, USA Today and the Florida General Practice Journal. Some of his courses at Flagler included “Introduction to U.S. Law,” “American Law and Justice,” “Legal Research and Writing,” “Philosophy of Law,” “Leadership in Law and Politics” and “Ethical Issues in the Courts.” He received his Juris Doctorate degree from Northeastern University in Boston in 1974.