Bobbie Bailey sits in front of the “Miss Mary” Steinway named for her mother. It was one of 27 Steinways she donated to KSU in 2008 to help it earn the All-Steinway School designation, joining the likes of Juilliard and Yale. (Photo by Anne Almasy)
Bobbie Bailey Foundation donates $5 million to Kennesaw State’s School of Music
Kennesaw State University has received a $5 million gift for its School of Music from the Bobbie Bailey Foundation. This is the largest single donation to the College of the Arts in its history and will be devoted in full to student scholarships.
The university has now received a total of more than $11 million from Bailey, who died in 2015 at age 87, and her foundation. In honor of those gifts, the state Board of Regents today renamed the music school the Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music.
“Bobbie Bailey had a vision for music at Kennesaw State University to build a world-class school,” said Ivan Pulinkala, dean of the College of the Arts. “She used to joke, ‘This is my school of music,’ and now it is. This is a total game-changer for us.”
Pamela Whitten, president of Kennesaw State, said in a press release that Bailey’s commitment to music, nursing and athletics at the school has impacted generations of students. “The strong relationship between KSU and the Bailey Foundation continues to grow with this generous gift,” Whitten said.
Bailey and the Bailey Foundation have a long history of supporting KSU. She helped fund the Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center and donated 27 Steinway pianos to the School of Music in 2008 so it could receive the prestigious All-Steinway School designation.
Additionally, she gave major funding for the Audrey and Jack Morgan Concert Hall, which is named for her sister and brother-in-law. Bailey also provided financial support to the university’s athletic and nursing programs, including funding the Bobbie Bailey Athletic Complex.The university awarded her a Doctor of Humane Letters in 1998.
Pulinkala said the $5 million donation will help create an endowment that will provide about $200,000 a year in music scholarships and enable the school to attract top students. The music school has nearly 300 students, and the College of Arts has grown to 1,800 students, making it one of the largest collegiate arts programs in the Southeast.
Bailey became a business trailblazer for women in 1960 when she founded Our-Way Inc., which manufactures refrigeration and heating equipment. The company would grow to $45 million in annual sales and 350 employees with Bailey as sole owner and CEO. It was purchased by Carrier Corp. in 2001. Bailey also owned two record labels and was executive producer of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards shows for 37 years.
Pulinkala said efforts to rename the School of Music in her honor began more than two years ago. “A big gift like this takes a lot of time to develop,” he said. “We wanted to rekindle that relationship. Bobbie Bailey did so much for this school, and we felt it ought to be named for her.”