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January 3, 2019

World-renowned author, philanthropist Elaine N. Marieb leaves legacy at FGCU and beyond

In 2016, Time magazine named its “100 Most-Read Female Writers in College Classes.” Coming in at No. 7 – just below the likes of Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and Toni Morrison – was acclaimed textbook author Elaine Nicpon Marieb. While her books are assigned in more than 2,400 classrooms around the world, Marieb’s greatest impact is likely on the students who study in the college that bears her name at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). She died Thursday, Dec. 20, at 82.

Elaine Marieb, left, meets with FGCU staff and students following the dedication of Marieb Hall in 2012.

Marieb had a knack for teaching students about human anatomy and physiology. She taught the subject, among others, at Springfield College and Holyoke Community College for years, and she eventually put her methods down on paper. She published more than a dozen textbooks on the subject and earned her R.N. and Ph.D. along the way.

“Education gave me the faith and confidence I have in myself, and I would love to help instill that faith in students pursuing careers in health professions,” Marieb said in an interview with FGCU 360 Magazine in 2017. “Be diligent in your studies because only when you are can you gain the sense of accomplishment that brings confidence in yourself. With confidence and education, you can change your life.”

Between 2012 and 2017, Marieb pledged $15 million to FGCU, establishing Marieb Hall and the Marieb College of Health & Human Services.

“The commitment and belief that Elaine Marieb placed in our college was a confidence boost. She challenged us to be better educators, to excel and deliver high-quality programs, and to graduate outstanding health-care practitioners,” said Mitch Cordova, former dean of Marieb College and current vice president for student success and enrollment management.

“Her gift provides the resources for us to remain on the pathway to academic excellence in perpetuity. While her financial investments were significant, her involvement with our advisory board in setting the strategic direction of the college was essential. Having a world-renowned educator, author and scholar like Elaine Marieb involved with our college immediately gave us credibility across the country.”

And Marieb seemed to be just as fond of FGCU.

“I feel FGCU offers a teaching style that was similar to my own, a style that connects lessons to examples and to things the students would remember so the lesson would stick,” said Marieb, who received an honorary doctorate from FGCU in 2016. “As for the students, they continue to impress me with their devotion to their studies and to changing their lives. I am gratified by the wonderful work the students have demonstrated. For the students that I have come to know, I continue to be touched by the appreciation they have expressed.”

Marieb’s generosity has enabled the continued growth of the Marieb College, which now provides degree programs in nursing, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, exercise science, physician assistant studies, clinical mental health counseling, health administration and social work, among others. In addition to FGCU, Marieb supported programs and scholarships at other institutions, such as Holyoke Community College and UMass Amherst. Her name will also adorn an herbarium and laboratory at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota.

“Clearly, Elaine Marieb has had a profound effect on FGCU, its students and the community we serve,” said FGCU President Mike Martin. “Her investment in FGCU’s health sciences programs has been transformational. The confidence she placed in this institution provided the impetus for those who embrace excellence. Elaine’s impacts will be felt for generations to come. She will be missed, but it is of great benefit to so many who came to know Elaine Marieb. She has left a powerful legacy.”

On Feb. 22, FGCU will host a public event to celebrate Marieb’s life and recognize her dedication to FGCU students. Additional information about the event will be announced at a later date.

To learn more about Elaine Nicpon Marieb and her work with FGCU, visit https://www2.fgcu.edu/mariebcollege/marieb_hall.asp.