In Memoriam | Corine Bolwerk

Passionate about culture, her colleagues and the students. This is a fitting description of our dear colleague Corine Bolwerk. Corine passed away on August 17 after about two years of illness, the consequence of a brain tumor. She spent almost her entire working life (since 1998) at Studium Generale and championed, in particular, the better films, theatre productions and literature. Her mission statement: to enrich people, students first and foremost, with culture.

Corine's illness robbed her gradually of one of her chief abilities: speech. Corine was a true humanities person in a science environment; she could formulate an idea brilliantly, and argue her point in finely crafted sentences. With Corine in a meeting, en route somewhere or at a lunch, the proceedings were always lively and high-quality discussion was guaranteed, there was laughter and you could count on Corine for hilarious anecdotes.

Corine (Breda, 1958) was an intellectual through and through, someone who valued a well-structured argument and clear reasoning. As the editor-in-chief she spent endless hours tweaking pieces of text, headlines, slogans, quotes, always with a feeling for the word and how to use it to rouse to action SG's most important target audience: students. To, among other things, experience lots of culture. Culture which, in her view, didn't mean some form of being pleasantly entertained, but was the very essence of life. She often spoke of culture as the canary in the coalmine, culture as the barometer of how we are faring as a society. Corine was also a true product of the 1970s, with the sense of engagement that entails and the inclination to question numerous social imperfections. She could react fiercely if art was spoken of lightly or disparagingly. Art was no nice extra or frill but oxygen.

Corine was not someone who often took center stage, in fact she was often a quiet force in the background, keeping the wheels of Studium Generale turning and well-oiled. Considerate and a good colleague, she was always ready to jump in and help where that was useful and necessary, and was someone with a clear and heartfelt connection with a great many students, often film or theater lovers. For her, the Gaslab, the building and stage that Studium Generale used for its own programs and workshops for nearly a decade, was the ultimate dream that became reality, and there was great sadness when the Gaslab was assigned a different purpose, and consequently it lost the uniqueness, the special ambiance and conviviality that had so typified the place.

For years, Corine worked hard in support of high-quality art house screenings, and in so doing contributed greatly to the ambiance on the TU/e campus and the image the campus projects, as well as to the development of students. The movie program is a part of SG has a particularly strong appeal to many TU/e students. Among the many screenings, performances and cultural programs, some of the most memorable were the program with filmmaker Martin Koolhoven and the screening of Koyaanisqatsi with live music, and the program about the end of the world, which concluded with watching the sunrise from the roof of Atlas. The theater production Rent, with twenty performances in what is now called Corona, but was then still the hogestromenhal, thrilled more than two thousand people and created unforgettable evenings. These are all programs that Corine worked on, with heart and soul. In this work, her attitude toward those around her and, especially, toward herself, was critical. She certainly didn't have an abundance of complacency and she remained critical, realizing that a good SG program is actually never complete and perfect.

Pieke, Joren, Merlijn and Jesse, we will all miss Corine's words and vitality, and we wish you all great strength and many consoling memories.

Lucas Asselbergs and the Studium Generale team


Our personal memories of Corine

SG colleague David Ernst: “Miss Studium Generale, I've known you more than 23 years. Apart from family and a few friends, you've been the most constant factor in my life, somewhere between a mother and a sister. Someone who embodied both ‘High Ivory Towers’ and ‘rolling up the sleeves’. SG's conscience and memory bank. A family woman certainly, but what about those hundreds of students whom you saw come and go and with whom you maintained good ties: an academic-slash-cultural Mother Hen at TU/e. Bon voyage. One love.”

SG colleague Miep Swaminathan: “Words that come up in me when I think of Corine: powerful, intuitive, outspoken, free, family person, her laugh, engaged. I recall with warm feelings those communal lunches in the SG office. Lunch boxes open, our homemade sandwiches, and discussing and debating every topic that came up. From current events to personal matters. Sometimes the gloves were off, as when Corine, always in a respectful manner, did not mince her words, but usually we heard her loud laugh accompanying the anecdotes that came up. These were fine moments in our work breaks.”

SG colleague Gijs van de Sande: “A dear, fine, warm, critical and inspiring colleague. That was Corine as I got to know her in the ten years we worked together. I think back to one of the last pre-Corona programs with Dirk De Wachter. Eloquent Flemish people, she enjoyed them hugely (ditto George Clooney, hanging above her desk). She shared her family's life; spoke about them with great pride and passion. And perhaps most valuable for us, she was the listening ear for hiccups in our private lives. Corine organized conviviality – a wonderful personal quality. The office day trip to "our city" Nijmegen... ah, there are so many memories to recall. I've been missing you for two years already, Corine, but now it's permanent. A tear, a sigh...peace, the end. The memory remains.”

SG colleague Marle de Jonge: “For me, Corine has certainly always been the SG mother – not only by virtue of her years of service, but more because of her considerate nature and hospitality. If one day the trains weren't running, there was already a bed made up for you at Corine's – with a delicious breakfast to boot, no problem at all. Always interested and ready to offer a listening ear or a supportive word. Someone with whom it was easy to while away hours chatting about all manner of things; the most delectable clothes, anecdotes about our families, good books or films, life's challenges big and small... Down-to-earth and always with lots of humor and a healthy perspective.”

SG colleague Florence Bouvier: “Sadly Corine was no longer able to work these past two years… but I still miss her sociable spirit, her stories and her laugh. Our SG team doesn't feel 'complete' without her. Her absence strikes me most forcibly on occasions like our Studium Generale lunches. Often Corine was the one speaking and she liked to tell us about Pieke and her children, about her youth, her university studies in Nijmegen… and with me, about her time as an au-pair in Paris. Au revoir, Corine,tu nous manques déjà!”

TU/e colleague Joep Huiskamp: “I knew her from way back in Nijmegen (art house cinema). For me, Corine was first and foremost the film expert. With clear preferences for directors and well-founded opinions. She organized the annual excursion for SG to the Rotterdam Film Festival. I went along a couple of times and returned fully tanked, as it were, cinematographically. We will miss her.”

Former SG colleague Anna Houwen: “For Corine, working at Studium Generale was integral to her life: constant alertness when reading, hearing or observing. Could there be a good program in this? Is it something for our students? And then working with students wherever possible to create a fine program for students. As she would say: when you think about it, even today almost every film and play still tackles the big themes the Greeks and Romans were addressing: war, love, power, deception and revenge. Several generations of students have been raised on films they themselves would never have chosen and theater they otherwise would not have seen. In the hope that these experiences would be formative in their later lives as people and scientists.”

Former SG colleague Jeanneke Grimbergen: “I know Corine mainly as a warmhearted family person: caring, and mutually sharing the joys and sorrows within the SG family and her family at home. Even though I have never met her family, through her stories, many anecdotes and nostalgic memories, a picture of a rich and loving family life stays with me...”.

Former SG Colleague Esther van Kalken: “Corine welcomed me with open arms when I started as a youngster at SG and took me under her wing. That beginning marked our bond as long as we were colleagues. Corine was a real storyteller, often talking about her children, which I think she was extremely proud of, even though she was definitely not one to boast. She also often talked about fond memories of students from the film committee. One of her favorites was when the committee paid a maternity visit after the birth of (I think) Joren. She said this so often, it is clear how much she cherished this memory. Corine and I often had the most fun, and her involvement with SG, her colleagues, and the students was inspiring. I'm going to miss you, dear Corine. Rest in peace.”

Guus Termeer (SG Groningen): “Corine and I knew each other from way back in the 1980s when she was lodging in Nijmegen with my best friend and was giving my later life partner Spanish lessons. So it was a surprise when we ran into each other again twenty years later as SG colleagues. Together with her and Saskia Zwolle, I organized the SG trip to Berlin in 2010, the first of a series of foreign inspirational trips for all SG colleagues, for whom Corine organized the cultural excursions. But I remember Corine first and foremost as a hugely kind and engaged colleague with an open ear and warm interest in others, as I was lucky enough to experience for myself when I went through a dark period in my life. She was a fine colleague whose time came much too early.”

Former SG chief Maarten Pieterson: “At the train station in Den Bosch I came across Corine by chance. Going to a film festival with a group of students. That's what she liked most, I think, about her job at SG."

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