Francess Barlett Kinne turns 100


Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne has dedicated more than five decades of service to Jacksonville University and the greater Jacksonville community, investing her time, teaching, talent and treasure. In 1979, she became Florida’s first female university president and ushered in an era of growth and creativity campus-wide. Having established what is now the Davis College of Business, the Keigwin School of Nursing and JU’s ever-popular Aviation program, she is also the namesake for JU’s Kinne University Center, the Kinne Auditorium at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and the Kinne Alumni Center at Drake University. In addition to her many charitable endeavors and enthusiastic fundraising on behalf of the University, she has drawn world-famous celebrities and public figures to Jacksonville, including President Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Charlton Heston, to highlight only a few.

Dr. Kinne began her Jacksonville University career in 1958 as a humanities professor, became founding dean of JU's College of Fine Arts in 1961, and served in that capacity until being named president in 1979. Kinne served as JU's president for 10 years, followed by her time as chancellor from 1989 to 1994 and chancellor emerita since 1994.

In addition to her leadership, Dr. Kinne's hand of generosity is legendary: JU's student center (Frances Bartlett Kinne University Center) bears the Kinne name, as does the North Wing of the Bertha Bartlett Public Library, and the Kinne Garden at Wilma's Little People School at Jacksonville University.

A Story City, Iowa, native whose childhood centered on art, music and education, Kinne is the daughter of the late Charles Bartlett, Story City's newspaper publisher; and Bertha Bartlett, who founded and ran the town library. Her first husband was U.S. Army Col. Harry Kinne and her second husband was U.S. Army Col. Worthington Bordley, Jr.

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Kinne received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Drake University and a tri-major doctorate (philosophy, music and English literature) from the University of Frankfurt (Germany), and she was later awarded with five honorary doctorate degrees.

As a young adult, Kinne worked as a public school music teacher; a choral and instrumental conductor; Veterans Administration recreation director; professor at Tsuda College in Tokyo, Japan; and music consultant for Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff in Tokyo. During Ward War II, Kinne chose to be a U.S. Army hostess over the Women's Army Corps, and her wartime assignment had her in charge of providing entertainment for as many as 70,000 GIs.

Read about Fran's experience during the war on Wave Magazine.

Her knack for drawing in celebrities, such as boxers Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, to meet U.S. military personnel carried over to her career at Jacksonville University, where she was able to host dozens of world-famous entertainers and other renowned figures including Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Charlton Heston and Boston Pops Orchestra conductor, Arthur Fiedler. She even enticed George Steinbrenner to bring his New York Yankees baseball team to play in an exhibition game against JU to raise funds for the university.

Known as "a friend of the famous," Kinne received correspondences as numerous as they were interesting, including a Christmas card with a handwritten note from Gerald Ford one week before his death. Kinne first got to know Ford in her capacity as chairwoman of the arts and music department in the early ‘70s when his son, Jack, was a student at JU.

"He was so dear and one of those rare individuals in that type of position who still wrote personal notes to old friends," Kinne said in a 2006 Florida Times-Union interview.

Kinne had many fond relationships with those she hosted on campus, but enjoyed a much closer friendship with Hope, often visiting him and other friends in Palm Springs.

"When you're around Fran Kinne – things happen ..." Hope once said.

A “first” and “only” in so many ways, Kinne was also the first female president of the Downtown Rotary Club; winner of the first EVE Award in Jacksonville; the first female member of the River Club; a Florida Women's Hall of Fame inductee; and listed on 24 different Who's Who lists, including Who's Who in the World.

Kinne often said that she’d decided long ago to heed her parents' counsel and follow Albert Einstein's advice to the letter: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

"My whole theme has been this: that life is not about me, it’s about others."

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne


"Please join me in justifying, each day, the space we take up on this planet, and in celebrating life, the greatest gift of all."

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne


"I try to learn something from everybody. My heart is open, yes, but my mind is open, too. I can always learn."

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne



Fran in academic regalia, speaking at Commencement

A picture of visionary leadership through the lens of the presidency

When you consider her achievements, it is no surprise that she held so many "firsts" over the years – first female Dean, university President, Rotarian, and onward. Fran was an original visionary. She was leaning in long before others conceived of the notion and she embodied authenticity when the term still held distinct meaning.

Tim Cost ’81

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Fran on a boat in Germany

"American … Go Home!" How Fran Kinne’s mettle overseas helped her become the "Frau Doktor"

What drove Fran Kinne – a decidedly non-traditional student crisscrossing the globe at a time when women were still years from getting their due in academia – to finish her Ph.D. is a testament to the force of nature that she is.

Phillip Milano

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Fran with students

A nurturer enriching others with the credo "don’t give up on a good idea" – or yourself

Some might confuse this caring, positive outlook and enthusiasm with a type of giddy happiness, but they would be wrong. She has an optimism that sees challenges as opportunities. She has operated successfully all of her life by grabbing those opportunities and proceeding with tremendous energy.

Dr. John Trainer

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Additional Stories

Dr. S. Walker Blanton

At a previous birthday event for Fran, I was asked to make a few remarks, but as the ceremony was running late, and I had a 1:30 p.m. class to make, I said to the guests: “You will never hear an academic make such a short speech. It is one line: Fran Kinne is the best thing that ever happened to JU.” Still true!

When I think of Fran, I think of a lovely lady, elegant, graceful, poised, with a great presence, well-spoken, quick to smile and laugh, witty, but also strong, firm, disciplined, determined, and persevering. She is these and much more. The best thing that ever happened to JU.

However, I have a personal take which is unique. In 1989, when I was giving my Professor of the Year presentation, I chose to do some audio and slides of my outdoor activities, which only I was doing at the time. I played an audio of a turkey roost at wake-up time, with lots of yelping, gobbling and songbirds. Yes, I am a hunter, and I love to hunt turkeys. Still do.

Also, I grew up fishing for coldwater trout and salmon, so I showed some slides of fishing in Alaska. Hunting and fishing are part of my heritage, lifelong. I love wild places.

When I got to the hunting part, I had slides of a hunt in Alaska for a Dall Ram. I knew there were some people on the faculty who don’t dig hunting, but I also knew no one would smart off in front of Fran Kinne. When she has your back, you are good (thanks, Fran).

Yes, she is firm, and can be tough -- has anyone ever seen her look when she means “enough of that”?

Fran is a multi-faceted treasure. She is loving, and loved.

The best thing that ever happened to JU.

Will Baxley '15

One of the greatest perks of my job while working for the Office of the President was that any time Fran was requested for an event on behalf of JU, I had the privilege of driving to her house to pick her up and then take her home. I took this duty very seriously -- I knew what a legend she is, and I’ve always wanted to impress her. I even had a playlist that I made just for those car rides full of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and other famous big bands -- people I like to imagine she heard perform live back in the ‘40s. And knowing Fran, she probably even has met some of them!

In these 30-minute car rides, it was just Fran and me. These are some of the most precious minutes of my life.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t drive slowly because she wanted me to; I drove slowly because I was trying to prolong the time I spent with her each way. I would try to wrap my brain around the things she has seen and lived through. What do you even ask someone who was literally a teenager during the Great Depression? I certainly wasn’t going to be caught complaining about being a “broke college student.” This woman has been there and done that and risen to even greater heights.

She really helped me zoom out of my own perception of the world, appreciate life and see the opportunity we have each day to think positively and encourage others.

One phase of Fran’s life that particularly resonates with me is how she traveled so far and wide as such a young woman. I love her story about packing all the wrong things when she moved to China and referring to herself as “You stupid thing!” I was blown away by her stories of being the first American woman to receive a doctorate from a German university -- writing her thesis in English and then translating every word into German, late into the night.

These memories she shared really stirred me as I looked ahead to my own plans to move to Uganda for a year for a job. I’ll never forget the advice she gave me before I left: ‘Listen to me Will, this is very important… You need to EAT more and gain some WEIGHT. Because if you get sick over there, you’ve got nothing to lose!’

I love you so much Fran! Happy birthday! I will never be the same because of you.

Luka Vukadinovic '13





All four projected at the same time, interlinked, reinforcing each other, captivating, infecting and touching all those around. These are found in a single individual who has transformed many lives and continues to do so every day – Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne. Those who have had the pleasure to meet and spend time with her can attest to the aura of positivity and kindness surrounding her. It is something so powerful, far-reaching and rarely found. Her life mission, I believe, is to bring happiness to those around her and awake even the most hidden emotions that we all carry deep inside. In her uplifting way, she forces us to open up and be our true selves, without fear.

I consider myself beyond fortunate to have spent many an hour with Dr. Kinne, enjoying long conversations about our lives. Someone need not look any further than her home, where every piece of furniture and decoration has a life of its own and a narrative that vividly depicts Dr. Kinne’s incredible journey. As I travel around the world, working with others in need, I serve in areas of conflict, natural disaster, and oppression in its many forms. And I think of Dr. Kinne. In my everyday interactions, I remind myself of her ever-optimistic outlook, affection and warm-heartedness. It as a guiding principle in my life, and I hope that I, like her, will be remembered for the service I offered.

Dr. Kay Johnson

Wilma’s Little People’s School (WLPS) was established in 1973, under a different name, when Dr. Fran Kinne was Dean of Fine Arts. Since that time, Dr. Kinne has been a present and positive force in the life and progress of the on-campus preschool.

It was determined during its first year that WLPS should place emphasis on the fine arts, allowing creativity to speak into the innate attributes of each child. Dean Kinne contributed to that goal in many ways, including conducting personal tours of JU’s art holdings, encouraging art majors to visit WLPS, and arranging performances for the children on campus. Each of these offerings was a positive, age-appropriate event and an approach that continues today.

In 1986, Dr. Kinne introduced the preschool to Mr. Harold “Bud” Smith who provided a generous endowment for building maintenance. He agreed to acknowledgement of his late wife, Wilma, who was an advocate for children. Wilma’s Little People’s School emerged, and despite some difficulties throughout the years, then President Kinne smoothly guided the school toward success. She not only encouraged WLPS faculty and staff, but she also welcomed the children to her office. It was in these treasured moments that she raved about their progress and looked the other way when still-damp paint rubbed off artwork and onto her new blue suit. In fact, the WLPS Annual Art Show held on the third floor of the Howard Administration Building was always a Dr. Kinne favorite.

As Chancellor Emerita, Dr. Kinne did not halt her interest and presence at WLPS. She comes to WLPS events, recruits for the school, and encourages College of Fine Arts faculty, students, and retired faculty to visit often. Her personal contact and involvement as a liaison WLPS and all JU departments has been beneficial in so many ways.

Since 1973, Dr. Kinne has been an important, necessary and positive force behind the ongoing success of WLPS. The school dedicates its 2017 Art Show to her, again, in honor of her help and influence over the decades.

How does WLPS say “thank you" to Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne? Perhaps an underdone cake or a finger-painted masterpiece? Certainly, WLPS sends much love and gratitude for her help these past forty-four years.

Alvin Brown ‘85 ‘89

I have so many fond memories of Dr. Kinne. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to get to know her early on as a student at JU. She truly cares about her students and always had an open door policy. There were no strangers in her eyes, and she made a serious effort to know all of us.

While working on my undergraduate degree, I worked full-time, often 40 - 50 hours per week on the stock crew at Winn Dixie. Although I had a personal relationship with Fran, she didn't know about my life outside of school. At one point, the Controller advised me to drop out unless I could come up with tuition due. This advice was meant sincerely and I was urged to take a year off and re-enroll the next year. But the thought of dropping out of college was never an option in my mind, so I put together a business plan on how to pay Jacksonville University back.

That semester, I asked to meet with Dr. Kinne. During our time together, we discussed the situation and I explained that I didn't want to leave. I was the first in my family to go to college. I shared my business plan to pay the school back in 90 days by doubling down at Winn Dixie. She'd had no idea that I worked full-time, and it was at that pivotal moment that she smiled and explained that Winn Dixie was a big supporter of JU. She told me how proud she was of me and that she would do everything possible to support me. Immediately, she called the registrar and instructed me to register for the next semester. Then she said, "Don't worry about it, Alvin. You don't owe us a dime."

That was a defining moment in my life. I walked into that meeting distraught, and I left with overwhelming hope because Dr. Kinne decided to invest in me and my future. She believed in me. It was a tremendous opportunity, a gift from her heart. She didn't do it because I was well connected, but rather, she saw a young man working hard, doing everything he could to stay in school, to graduate, and to become a productive citizen.

I'll never forget that moment for it was the beginning of a long friendship with an amazing mentor.

Another fond memory was Commencement Day. It was a hot day in 1985, and excitement was in the air. Over 100 people I knew came out to celebrate, including my fraternity brothers, family and fellow church members. When I walked across that stage toward a waiting Dr. Kinne, I was as nervous as I was excited for the future. I had the biggest smile on my face, and I remember her smiling back at me. Her embrace on that stage marked an important milestone in my life. A reminder of what a champion she was for her students.

Dr. Kinne said to me, more than once, "You're going places, and you're going to provide leadership for our entire country." When I became Mayor of Jacksonville in 2011, I recalled her words. She made certain I knew that she was extremely proud of me. While in office, I worked to open the same doors of opportunity for Jacksonville’s young people that she opened for me. JU was an important partner in my service to the city, and it was a privilege to spend time with so many of Jacksonville's young people on the JU campus. As Mayor, one of my great honors included speaking at Commencement. I was excited for the students, but even more excited that God allowed the story to come full circle--for me to stand there as Mayor of Jacksonville, delivering a commencement speech, with Dr. Kinne sitting alongside me. It was truly a blessing.

Finally, I had the opportunity to honor Dr. Kinne at City Hall as a Trailblazer, proclaiming "Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne Day" in Jacksonville, and paying tribute to her many firsts, including her legacy as the first woman president of Jacksonville University. It was truly humbling to serve as the first African American Mayor of Jacksonville, and it was equally humbling to honor the First Lady of my alma mater, who personally recognized and invested in my potential. Dr. Kinne has meant the world to me. I am a hundred times grateful and happy to say, thank you.

Thank you, Dr. Kinne, from the bottom of my heart, and happy 100th! May God continue to bless you and shine upon you, not only for the difference you made in one life, but in the lives of countless others.

David Fauss ‘83

I met Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne in the fall of 1979, when she was our interim President. As an incoming freshman, I stood in line to register for classes. Registration was being handled electronically for the first time ever and the boxy-looking computer was already overloaded. What should have been a short process was taking all day with registration lines winding around the Gooding Building. Eventually, I made my class choices, but was disappointed to learn one of the main electives I wanted, Photography 101, was closed. Dr. Kinne was working the line. At her direction, water and other refreshments were made available to waiting students. When she got to me, I introduced myself and told her about a mutual connection--my pastor’s wife, with whom Dr. Kinne was well acquainted. She spent extra time with me and ended up signing an override to get me into that closed photography class.

Having first discovered photography in high school and working on the yearbook, I had begun my first paying photo job, just a few months before college registration. That intro photo class was important to me, and was one of the primary reasons I chose to attend JU.

I continued to see Dr. Kinne around campus in the following months and I attended her Presidential inauguration a few months later. Of course, I had a camera with me and remember taking a photo of her with JU Board member, Alex Brest, after the ceremony. As they returned to the Howard building together, the much older Mr. Brest kissed her cheek and I caught that shot, too. After developing the black and white film in JU’s darkroom, I printed two copies and gave it to her as a gift. Looking back, I think I may have scored some points with her that day.

Late in the summer of my sophomore year, I received a call from one of Dr. Kinne’s assistants, Irene. I was asked to work in the President’s office during the school year and answering “yes” was easy. I worked about 20 hours each week, between or after classes, and my duties ranged from clerical work to answering the telephone. One of the most amazing things about working for Dr. Kinne was seeing her open door policy in action. She would meet with students, faculty, staff, parents-- anyone who ventured into her third floor suite when she was available. This policy included the telephone as well, and those of us who answered were trained not to ask a caller’s name or reason for calling. She never wanted to give the impression that she was screening calls. If she was available, she took the call.

I got to know the University’s public relations director during that time, too, and quickly became involved in taking photos of campus events in an official capacity, particularly activity involving Dr. Kinne. As many may know, bringing important guests to campus was important to Dr. Kinne. It was a practice started well before her presidency, and provided unique perspectives to students like me. So, I became a part of these events and photographed her with Bob Hope, President Gerald Ford, Charlton Heston, Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren (Ann’s sister - Dear Abby), John Connolly (former TX Governor and presidential candidate), Paul Volcker, Winston Churchill (grandson of the famed Churchill), Edward Villella, Ross Perot, Malcolm Forbes, Doc Severenson, Linus Pauling (Nobel prize winner) and many, many more.

Many people who visited her office remember how the walls were filled with 8x10 photos of her with these guests. Now, the photos are displayed in her home. On a recent visit, I spent some time pointing out the ones I had taken so many years ago. There are quite a few, and it was fun seeing the images repeated in a multimedia presentation at JU to usher in the beginning of her 100th year.

In 1986, Dr. Kinne was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony was held in Tallahassee at the Governor’s mansion. Bob Graham was governor then and presided over the event. I was asked to drive Dr. Kinne to Tallahassee, escort her to the ceremony, and take photographs, both for her personally and for JU. We had a nice ride over, and all went well. I had the opportunity to meet Gov. Graham, a first for me but only one of the many elected officials who adored Fran Kinne.

Nearing my graduation, a family friend suggested that I apply for a Rotary Foundation Scholarship to study abroad. After discussing it with Fran, for we’d come to speak on a first-name basis, I asked her for a letter of recommendation. She helped convince me to take the leap of faith it required to venture out of my comfort zone and travel around the world. She knew how an adventure of this magnitude would forever alter my perspective on the world. So I spent all of 1985 in Australia, and have absolutely no regrets.

When Fran’s mother, Bertha Bartlett, affectionately known as “BB,” turned 100 back in 1988, there was, of course, a party. Music was provided by Fran, BB’s only daughter. I already knew BB because my job at JU involved interacting with BB and her caregivers. About 27 years old at the time, I stood near her at the party. At some point, BB nudged me and said, “When my daughter leaves for the evening, you and I will stay and have some fun.” I’ll never forget that precious 100 year old woman flirting with me!

To think that the photographic journey all began with Fran signing me into an already full class. As a triple major in college, photography ended up being my passion, and I worked as a full-time photographer for several years, using skills I learned in that first class.

Fran has had, and continues to have, a tremendous impact on my life. I know I’m not alone in that, but it has been my pleasure and honor to be her “personal photographer.” All of the experiences I gained by having direct access to her was a huge highlight in my life. Looking back, I am amazed by the experiences I had as a college student, camera at the ready, all due to Fran.

To borrow a line from Fran, “thanks for the memories!”


Vibrant and timeless, Fran's wardrobe through the years channels her own bright and colorful disposition, with an elegance she effortlessly owns – one that doesn't bend to the whims of what might be in vogue.

Whenever it was cloudy, she would wear a bright color – usually a yellow dress. It indicates her spirit.

Dr. William McNeiland


Letter from William L. Armstrong

William L. Armstrong August 14, 1985

Dear Dr. Kinne,

A European head of state once said, “ In politics, a week is a long time.”

That quip aptly describes much of what we do here in Congress. This institution has a long history but a very short view of the future. The congressional horizon rests on the next week, the next crisis, the next election. The only reason not to be disheartened is that many individual Members of Congress understand this and are eager to expand their own range of thinking -- to look beyond the urgent to the important.

That is why I am asking for your help.

As chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, I am writing to a number of noted authorities in a wide variety of fields and am asking for your view of the future. Looking ahead -- the next 5, 10, 20 years -- what should we be thinking about for the good of the country? What issues deserve more attention than they now receive?

I realize this is a wide-open request on which a great deal of high-priced time can be spent. I offer in return only the promise that I will circulate your views to all 53 Republican Senators. However, I do hope you will give this request serious consideration and take time to reply in as abbreviated or expanded a fashion as you wish.

Many hold a very cynical view of Congress, doubting we can deal effectively with any serious issue. If you count yourself in that number and wonder why you should bother with another attempt to educate a bunch of politicians, then I can only reply that you should, because we need it so desperately.

Again, thank you for considering this request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,


William L. Armstrong

P.S. If you are not familiar with the Policy Committee, I have enclosed a fact sheet on our activities.

William L. Armstrong
Letter from Irving A. Fein

Irving A. Fein February 22, 1973

Dear Frances:

There are three things I would like to do more than anything in 1973. First is to sail on a private yacht around the Greek Islands for a month. Second is to spend a month sunning and swimming on a South Sea Island. And third is to be in Jacksonville on “Fran Kinne Day” on March 16.

We all love you, Fran, and only a previous commitment keeps is from being there, but we’ll be with you in all our thoughts.

Love & kisses,

Irving A. Fein

Irving A. Fein
Letter from Bob Hope

Bob Hope March 9, 1973

Dear Doctor:

What great news it is to find out that the Women’s Club of Jacksonville is honoring you.

It had to happen - with your big heart! I should also say, big brain, because you think large enough to get both Jack Benny and myself on the campus of Jacksonville University at the same time. And I must inform you that a lot of people have been trying to get the two of us together. Most of them have been our wives.

From my association with you, I know you would lighten up the artistic horizon of any locale that you participated in. I just wish I could be there in person to throw a little confetti and yell “Hurrah!” You’re an outstanding lady, outstanding dean, and outstanding citizen of this world. So bow deeply.


Bob Hope

North Hollywood, California

Bob Hope
Letter from Jack Benny

Jack Benny February 21, 1973

Dear Fran,

I wish it were possible to be with you to help you celebrate your “Fran Kinne Day,” March 16. I know it will be a very exciting time for you and you deserve the wonderful tribute.

I will always remember the marvelous time you arranged for Bob Hope and me when we received our honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Jacksonville University last April. It was a very special occasion for me and your hospitality and generosity will long be remembered.

I can only hope that your special day will return to you the kindness and honor you have given to others.

Much love,


Jack Benny
Letter from Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland February 20, 1973

Dear Frances:

Congratulations on the signal honor being paid you by the Women’s Club of Jacksonville!

Even at this distance, I have an excellent sense of all you have done to bring music as an art and a stimulus to the students and friends of the University and the general community of Jacksonville. If every town in the United States had a Frances Kinne, we would all be going full stem ahead every day of the year.

More power to you, and again, my congratulations!


Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland
Letter from Boris Goldovsky

Boris Goldovsky February 14, 1973

Dear Mrs. Pomerantz:

May I join you in your salute to Dr. Kinne, one of the most charming ladies I have ever met -- and one of the smartest.

Boris Goldovsky

Boris Goldovsky
Letter from Arthur Fiedler

Arthur Fiedler March 12, 1973

Dear Fran:

I have just learned about your well-deserved forthcoming honor, “Fran Kinne Day” on March 16. Certainly this is most appropriate. We all know what a great service you have done to Jacksonville University, and how well-beloved you are by everyone. I am one of the fortunate people to be invited to attend the banquet on your day, but unfortunately I cannot possibly be there as I have a concert in Worcester, Massachusetts on that night. I would to have been with you, and I know I will miss a very interesting and happy evening.

With all good wishes for continued success,

Very cordially,

Arthur Fiedler

Arthur Fiedler


"Each of us can do something that nobody else can do. I think that it’s a gift. It’s a gift you’ve received. So, how much can you give back?"

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne

Relive the Celebration

A very special Happy 100th Birthday Dr. Fran Kinne from the Jacksonville Children's Chorus!

Wish Fran a Happy Birthday