Betty Holzendorf Pic
Betty Holzendorf
UNF Degree: M.Ed – ’73
Employment: Co-chair Jacksonville Journey

Holzendorf achieves extraordinary accomplishments

 Betty Holzendorf doesn't consider herself to be anyone special. "I'm an ordinary person. When I see something that needs doing, I do it." That attitude has propelled her to extraordinary accomplishments helping her community and the University of North Florida.


From Jacksonville to Tallahassee, Holzendorf has established a reputation of succinctly stating the problem and working hard to find potential solutions. In many cases those solutions include enhancing educational programs for everyone from toddlers to university students. Because of her work, her legacy will live on in future generations both in Jacksonville and in Florida.


The generations of her own family are testament to the value she places on education. Three of her four children are UNF graduates and her grandchildren make the third generation of Holzendorfs to attend the University.


Holzendorf attended Edward Waters College for two years before taking a job in a medical lab. After working in the lab for a time, she went back to EWC to finish her bachelor's degree. She and her husband King Holzendorf then started raising a family. After having two young children, Holzendorf gave into her mother's wishes and returned to college. Since UNF was not in existence at the time, it was not possible to get her master's degree in Jacksonville. As a result, she went out-of-state and received a master's degree in biochemistry from Atlanta University.

She worked as a teacher in the Jacksonville public schools for a time teaching biology but decided she wanted to be an administrator. Dr. Andrew Robinson, a driving force in the early years of UNF, convinced her to come to the University to get a second master's degree, this time in educational administration. She was a member of the charter graduating class in 1973. "I never would have launched my career and gotten so involved, if it weren't for UNF."


Holzendorf didn't become a school administrator but did enter public service in various city positions for Jacksonville mayors Hans Tanzler and Jake Godbold, whom she considers her political mentor. She entered political life almost by accident. After the resignation of a representative from Jacksonville, she was asked to serve the remainder of his term as a "placeholder." As it turned out, she was anything but a placeholder, going on to be elected to her own terms in the House and the Senate while championing numerous educational causes. "I've always enjoyed helping people and the community."


At the City Council level she was instrumental in the establishment of community centers throughout Jacksonville. At the state level she conceived a project for latchkey children which eventually became the Florida Safe Schools Program. At UNF she worked with then President Dr. Adam Herbert to establish extended internships for student teachers, a program which continues today as the highly successful Urban Internship Program. She also was a tenacious advocate in the statehouse for UNF securing appropriations for construction of UNF's University Center, which today is served by Betty Holzendorf Drive. Her educational experiences at UNF and Edward Waters College also prompted her to work hard over the years to promote a partnership between the two institutions.


Although she is no longer in public office, Holzendorf has not stopped helping her community. She is co-chair of the Jacksonville Journey, a community effort to find solutions to Jacksonville's rising crime rate. Once again education is one of her top priorities in finding solutions.


"I look at high quality, well-funded public education as the best way to solve many of our problems. A good public education gives our children a broad base of experience and produces well-rounded individuals. I see UNF as playing an integral part of that education system."


Throughout the years, whether in public or private life, those who know Holzendorf realize when she wants to vent her frustrations she goes to the kitchen and cooks. In Tallahassee she earned a reputation for feeding many lawmakers as she championed various bills through approval. Holzendorf sees cooking in the same way she views life: A measure of commitment, spiced with a touch of perseverance is the recipe for repeated success