Columbus State awards De Bode, Olivié with honorary degrees

As part of its commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 12, Columbus State University awarded community leaders Marc Olivié and Marleen De Bode with honorary doctorates in humane letters. The degrees recognize the couple for their longtime philanthropic support of and service to CSU — and their many contributions to the area’s business, civic and arts sectors. Olivié is best known for his leadership of Columbus-based W.C. Bradley Company as its president and CEO. De Bode is an advocate for the arts and works as an independent art consultant specializing in contemporary art. “Marc and Marleen are two of the most accomplished and charitable people in the Columbus area,” President Chris Markwood said. “They have epitomized servant leadership through their generous support of and personal involvement in Columbus State University, which have allowed our students and university to excel.” Olivié serves as a trustee of the Columbus State University Foundation, and through this capacity, played a major role in the most recent CSU Foundation strategic planning process. As a fundraising champion, he helped secure $25 million in gifts that funded the construction of Frank D. Brown Hall — the new home of CSU’s College of Education and Health Professions. De Bode’s service to CSU has been equally impactful and includes chairing the Friends of Art Steering Committee and establishing the Funding Future Artists Scholarship Fund. This fund has helped to expand the recruitment and talent pipeline in CSU’s Department of Art to include outreach and support for both national and international students. The couple are from Antwerp, Belgium, and met at the University of Antwerp while pursuing master’s degrees there. They have lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and several cities in the United States. Both started in the business sector after graduation, but only Olivié pursued this for the rest of his career — attaining leadership positions in the U.S. and Europe with companies that include McKinsey & Company, Sara Lee Corporation, Armstrong, and American Standard. After seven years at Bank of America, De Bode left the business sector to teach and then pursue her arts-oriented passions. She obtained a degree in interior design in London and focused on the integration of art in architecture, primarily in the U.S. Marleen led marketing, education and development at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, while Olivié served as president and CEO of Agfa-Gevaert. In 2008, Olivié accepted his current position of president and CEO at the W.C. Bradley Co. Since then, he has served on the boards of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Historic Columbus in addition to his service to CSU. With Olivié’s appointment at W.C. Bradley, the couple relocated from Belgium to Columbus and immediately engaged locally in their shared passions: education and the arts. As collectors of mostly contemporary art, De Bode got involved in the CSU Department of Art by chairing Friends of Art and joined the Columbus Museum board, which she served as president of for two years. In 2013, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed her to the Georgia Council for the Arts, where she served for seven years. Olivié has announced plans to retire as W.C. Bradley’s president and CEO at the end of 2020, and the couple plan to move their full-time residence to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they are involved in the art world. He will maintain a connection with Columbus through his continued role on the company’s Board of Directors.