Dr. Bryan Franks to lead Jacksonville University's Marine Science Research Institute as Dr. Quinton White retires after 48 years

July 09, 2024

In a significant leadership transition at Jacksonville University, Dr. Bryan Franks has been named the new Executive Director of the Marine Science Research Institute (MSRI), succeeding the founding executive director, Dr. A. Quinton White, Jr., who is retiring after an illustrious 48-year career.

Dr. Franks is a distinguished marine scientist, author and educator. Known for his student-centered approach to research and innovation, Dr. Franks has been a key member of the MSRI team, fostering meaningful relationships and partnerships that have advanced marine science education and research.

"Dr. Franks has developed the relationships to continue the work started by Dr. White," said Dr. Christopher Corbo, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "The MSRI began as a center for marine science education that directly supports the St. Johns River, the City of Jacksonville, and its coastal areas. He will continue the long-standing collaborations, develop new ones, and enhance the work of the institute towards a national stage."

Dr. Franks' commitment to placing students at the heart of his work has been a driving force behind his success. His efforts have created a dynamic learning environment that prepares students to make significant environmental impacts in their future careers. "Dr. Franks holds students at the center of the research, innovation, and collaboration that he has been involved in," added Dr. Corbo. "The collaboration between the MSRI and various organizations in Northeast Florida are the ingredients that create the dynamic learning environment that we are so proud of."

Jacksonville University President Tim Cost emphasized the scope of the search process for Dr. White's successor and highlighted Dr. Franks' strengths. "We ran a rigorous, national search for the best leaders in our lane of Marine Science, teaching, and community engagement. Bryan Franks is not only a known commodity, he’s highly respected here. He’s an outstanding professor, researcher; his background was perfect,” said President Cost. “He emerged as the clear choice among a number of outstanding potential choices.”

Dr. Quint WhiteDr. White leaves an enduring legacy at Jacksonville University and within the Jacksonville community. Known as “Mr. Science of Northeast Florida,” Dr. White joined Jacksonville University in 1976. A Professor of Biology and Marine Science, he has written numerous research and technical papers and reports, attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and contracts for marine research at JU, and is responsible for the $10 million, 32,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-certified MSRI on campus. He has been an active voice in the community, writing a monthly column, "River Life," for the Florida Times-Union and serving as a consultant to the City of Jacksonville’s Waterways Commission. His visionary work includes establishing the partnership with OCEARCH, the largest shark-tracking and oceanic research organization in the world, at Jacksonville University.

"What Quint has done for this university is put us on the map as subject matter experts in a defined field that matters to this region, which is the water and specifically the St. Johns River," said President Cost. "Anytime this university can be seen as world-class experts in a field, it matters a great deal to us. Quint’s scholarship, his teamwork, his leadership, his camaraderie has set a culture for the College of Arts and Sciences, and now the university as a whole, that goes all the way back to when he got here in 1976. In retrospect, as we look back on Quint’s career, he’s contributed to a culture of ethics, service, and scholarship that we could never have originally considered. It’s irrevocable, and we’re all grateful to him.”

As Dr. White steps into retirement, his legacy of leadership and dedication to marine science will continue through Dr. Bryan Franks. The Jacksonville University community looks forward to the continued growth and success of the Marine Science Research Institute under Dr. Franks' guidance.

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