Long-time band director honored by Union family

Olenik HC Band Alumni webA music professor and band director that dedicated nearly 40 years of his life to students at Union College was honored by alumni during Homecoming weekend.

During the 2015 Homecoming celebration, 25 Union alumni gathered in the music room of the fine arts building to share stories and remembrances of Dr. Allan Green. A brief ceremony was also held to unveil a plaque honoring Green’s legacy. Green served Union’s music program from 1961 until retirement in 1999.

“We are gathered here to honor someone very special,” said Jessica Terry Bergman, Union’s outgoing Vice-President for Advancement. “Our faculty at Union are great at impacting lives of students in ways that only faculty at small schools can.”

Don Jones ’79, a member of the Union College Board of Trustees, said Dr. Green was always accessible to students and served students in capacities beyond the classroom. Jones said Green coached tennis and spent free time playing bridge with band members in the student center. He also opened his family home to students during difficult times, like when the flood of 1977 emptied Union’s campus.

“Even after he retired, he supported Union financially and was very good to Union for a very long time,” Jones said. “Dr. Green is a great example of why small, liberal arts schools are so important.”

Jones said the memorial to Green was developed by former students, including Roberta Taylor ’79, who passed away prior to the unveiling. It was Taylor that led the fundraising effort to honor Green and support the re-emergence of Union’s band program; now led by Douglas Olenik.

“It is great to now be part of a music program that had such a huge impact on so many people,” said Olenik.

Olenik told those gathered at the ceremony that he currently has 24 students enrolled in the renewed band program. Green’s development fund has helped Olenik purchase instruments for students, sheet music and other equipment. Olenik thanked the group for their support and detailed his vision for the program.

“Union needs a strong music program,” he said. “We have the opportunity to be the face of change in the arts community throughout eastern Kentucky. Union should be the example other schools look up to.”

The day was special in other ways for Olenik and the Union music program. The Homecoming event marked the first time in school history that a student-focused marching band would lead the Bulldogs onto the football field. The band performed the National Anthem and the Union “fight song” for the audience, which included several music alumni from the ceremony earlier that day. Many took time to congratulate Olenik and his students following the performance.

“We just want to share our music with others and teach others that want to learn music,” Olenik said. “We want this program to continue to embody what Dr. Green and others understood; that we are here to make music for this school and our community.”

To learn more about the new band program at Union College, including community performance opportunities, please contact Mr. Douglas Olenik at 606.546.1635 or dolenik@unionky.edu.