Remembering Francess Barlett Kinne

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

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne

Remembering Dr. Kinne

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne dedicated 62 years 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 drew 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.

A Story City, Iowa, native whose childhood centered on art, music and education, Kinne was 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.

Advertisement for JU President position

The advertisement posted by Jacksonville University to fill the position of President. Read the ad.

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."

"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

Share Your Memories of Fran

"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

Memorial Giving

Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne dedicated 62 years to serving Jacksonville University, its students and the community of Northeast Florida. She was a legendary educator, leader and visionary. Our University would not be what it is today without her. Your gift in memory of Dr. Kinne will ensure that her legacy of selfless service and support of others will live on at Jacksonville University.

In honor of her 103rd birthday on May 23, we invite you to make a gift to support what was most important to Dr. Kinne — JU students. For every one-time gift of $103, or recurring monthly gift of $10.30 made between May 22 and May 31, Jacksonville University will plant a flower on campus in her memory.

Kinne Century Society logo

Dr. Kinne’s most generous supporters are recognized with membership in the exclusive Kinne Century Society. The Kinne Century Society was established in 2020 to honor the life and legacy of our former Jacksonville University President and Chancellor Emerita. Annual gifts of $25,000 made to JU’s Greatest Needs or the JU Scholarship Fund in her honor will continue to support the legacy.

To become a member of the Kinne Century Society, or for more information on making a gift in Dr. Kinne’s honor, please contact the Office of University Advancement at (904) 256-7045 or supportju@ju.edu to speak with a member of our team, or use the form below.

"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