The legacy of a longtime supporter who helped found and name the Bower School of Music & the Arts continues to resound in the Music Building’s halls and benefit the Florida Gulf Coast University community.
Dolly Bodick Korest, whose husband Alan Korest died in June, has created an endowed fund to support Bower leadership and shape the path for current and future faculty, students and alumni. Her gift established the new Alan R. Korest Endowed Director of the Bower School of Music, the position held by Krzysztof Biernacki.
Alan Korest and his late wife, Marilyn, supported FGCU for more than two decades, including a major gift in memory of her deceased father, Edwin Bower, which established the music school. After his wife’s death in 2010, Alan Korest created the Marilyn Bower Korest Music Therapy Scholarship Endowed Fund.
Inspired by the vision and generosity of the man she married in 2017, Dolly Bodick Korest sought a way to pay tribute to her husband’s legacy at FGCU after he died.
He had a core belief that music was hugely valuable to the human soul, she said. He also believed in what he called “cathedral thinking”: Individuals who lay the groundwork for grand, time-spanning endeavors, like cathedrals or great music institutions, must ensure their vision is clear so the generations that follow can bring their vision to fruition.
The idea of endowing the Bower directorship to ensure the school’s future struck the right chord with Bodick Korest.
“The endowment creates opportunities for the school and distinction for the position,” she said. “When it came to me, I knew immediately it would be something fitting for Alan and that he himself would appreciate. The school is growing and evolving, creating every day. Krzysztof’s leadership is quite extraordinary. I have full confidence in his ability to carry the school forward.”
Her gift solidifies the Bower School of Music’s prestige for future generations, Biernacki said, and celebrates Korest’s life and his impact at FGCU and throughout Southwest Florida.
“Supporting the director’s position with a dedicated endowment is the highest honor a university can bestow upon a member of its faculty and one of the most visionary things anyone could do for our institution,” said Biernacki, who joined the school as director in 2019. “Alan will forever be remembered as a truly great man. As the founder of the Bower School of Music, he changed the artistic landscape of this region and the state. He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him, and his spirit will live on in the legacy of the students, faculty and staff of the Bower School of Music for generations to come.”
Expanding endowed faculty positions is a priority for the FGCU Foundation. World-class academics can secure grants, bring in other prominent faculty and conduct research that elevates the university’s stature.
President Mike Martin noted the Korests’ support of FGCU was driven not by personal recognition but by a genuine passion for enhancing students’ lives.
‘“Alan and now Dolly have made profoundly important investments in FGCU, especially the Bower School of Music & the Arts,” Martin said. “Along with financial support, they have sent a message that they are confident our students will be ‘winners.’ This investment and endorsement from two people of real substance is extremely meaningful and very much appreciated.”
The couple enjoyed attending concerts at FGCU and the annual “Joyful & Triumphant” holiday program performed by FGCU students at Moorings Presbyterian Church. They shared a belief in a liberal arts education, she said, and were committed to supporting scholarships.
“I can’t tell you how many times people would come up to him and say, ‘I’m an FGCU alumnus, and I wanted to tell you the Bower School of Music made a huge difference in my life, and I can’t thank you enough for putting this school on the map,’” Bodick Korest said.
“He was a man of extraordinary vision, and he created a legacy not for himself but for the good of everyone else.”