Francis “Bernie” Kish received the 2004 IUP Distinguished Alumni Award for his exemplary military career and outstanding accomplishments with the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1960, Dr. Kish received his IUP Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a concentration in the teaching of the social sciences. He continued his education, receiving his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1973. He later earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in higher education at the University of Kansas in 1998. In addition, Dr. Kish successfully completed U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and Army War College.
Dr. Kish served for twenty-nine years in the United States Army and retired from his distinguished military career as a full colonel. He was stationed for ten years in Germany, Vietnam, and Cambodia. He commanded organizations from platoon to brigade. In Germany, his brigade consisted of 6,500 military professionals at twenty-one separate locations in three countries. In this role, he successfully managed a budget of $180 million.
Following his outstanding military career, in 1995 Dr. Kish was selected from a pool of more than four hundred candidates to serve as executive director of the College Football Hall of Fame. Under his leadership, the facility has attracted more than 610,000 visitors from all fifty states and forty foreign countries. His Special Events Program is recognized as one of the best in the hall of fame industry.
In addition, Dr. Kish is a highly regarded public speaker, author, and media personality. In his role with the College Football Hall of Fame, he has given more than three hundred presentations. His topics of expertise include the History of College Football, the History of Notre Dame Football, Success in Football and Life, and Knute Rockne. As a retired veteran, Dr. Kish also delivers many Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day remembrances. Dr. Kish’s many publications also reflect a mix of his two outstanding careers. Some of his best-known works include: “The Military Career of Harry S. Truman,” “The Pittsburgh Steelers: A Brief History,” “Knute Rockne and the Kansas Connection,” “Knute Rockne: The Coach-Maker,” “Rockne: The Coach and the Car,” “The Notre Dame-Nebraska Rivalry,” and “Notre Dame’s Greatest Backfield.” Respected in his profession, Dr. Kish has been featured in three major television documentaries: ESPN’s Sports Center Flashback on Knute Rockne, the History Channel’s Gridiron Generals, and HBO’s “The Rites of Autumn.”
A recognized leader is his profession, in 1999 Dr. Kish was elected to the board of directors of the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame. This organization comprises 147 sports museums and halls worldwide.
A native of Lucernemines, Pennsylvania, Dr. Kish and his wife, the former Judy Bernhardt, live in South Bend, Indiana. They have two daughters, Keri and Kathryn.