The Kittrell/Dennison family: A Century of Giving
Jane and Marty Kittrell have faced a lot of changes through the years, so when it comes to philanthropic giving, they look for something eternal.
They didn’t have to look far to identify a qualified recipient for their generosity: Lipscomb University has played a foundational role in their family for 95 years.
Jane Head, the great aunt for whom Jane Kittrell (’76) is named, graduated from Lipscomb in 1912 when it was still called Nashville Bible School. Jane Kittrell’s grandparents moved from Indiana to Nashville so their daughter, Jean, could attend Lipscomb, where she met her future husband, Marshall. The Kittrells continued that tradition as their daughters, Elizabeth (’05) and Jessica (’06), graduated from Lipscomb and met their husbands there.
“In the early years of our marriage we lived in 10 different cities,” said Marty (’77), now a member of the Lipscomb Board of Trustees and Nashville resident with his wife. “But we always had one constant: we would support our local congregation, and we were supportive of Lipscomb. That was our bridge back to Nashville.”
“Every year we had either a new child, a new job or lived in a new city. I had to figure out how to make choices in that kind of environment,” said Jane of those early days in her marriage. “So I considered the 100-year rule -- What will matter in 100 years? And the answer is: eternal things and things that have lasting consequence in this world. Lipscomb is both of those things.”
As accounting graduates, the Kittrells have always been interested in getting a strong return on their investment. Often, when they lived in cities far from Nashville, the couple would set up a scholarship fund at their home congregation, so that both Lipscomb and a local student could benefit from their generosity.
When the Hughes Center was under construction, the Kittrells decided to honor Jane’s mother, Jean Nunley Dennison, who is an artist and lifelong art lover. They donated funds for a drawing studio and named it in her honor. Most recently they donated to the art department a Roy Lichtenstein print, which was shown in an exhibit held in conjunction with the Southern Literary Festival.
Marty was influenced strongly by his father-in-law, Marshall, also a long-time benefactor of Lipscomb along with his wife. “Relatively early in my corporate career,” Marty said, “I wanted to make sure that Lipscomb would also benefit from some of my success. It was great to have a father-in-law who provided a lot of guidance and reinforcement that such generosity was the right thing to do.”
The Kittrells say they are excited to be part of the Lipscomb:Next campaign—from a business perspective and a spiritual perspective. They want to help Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry raise the profile of Lipscomb nationwide, and at the same time, ensure that the strong spiritual foundation the school provided their family continues to be provided for families 100 years from now. They have made a leadership commitment to support the Frasier Professorship of Accounting, the Jean Nunley Dennison Drawing Studio, the Jean Dennison Presidential Lecture Series in Art and Art History, the College of Business, Lipscomb Fund, and general goals of Lipscomb:Next.
Pictured above: Jean Nunley Dennison, center, and Marty and Jane Kittrell, have to helped provide Christian education through their generous support of Lipscomb University.