Alan Nagy ’68 was recently honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award during the College’s virtual Homecoming celebration. Established in 1958, the award is the highest honor presented to alumni. These alumni are honored for living out the College’s vision, mission and values as well as making positive contributions to their profession and community. The award reaffirms Alan’s strong connection to Olivet as he has spanned from student, to alumnus, to staff and dedicated member of the Comet family.
Alan’s relationship with Olivet College sprouted from small-town connections — and an unlikely combination of his knowledge for bowling alley mechanics and a passion for football.
“I played high school football in Brown City, and one of the officials came up to me to see if I would be interested in playing college football at Olivet College. That was Owen Whitkopf ’60 of Imlay City who worked in the admissions department at the time. Not only did Owen know I was interested in football, but he also knew that my dad owned a bowling alley, and there were four lanes in the basement of the Collegiate Center at OC that needed maintenance. Owen called me since I knew a lot about pinsetters and bowling alleys, and I was invited to work on this project before my freshman year. I did that before I was even admitted, and I continued doing that after I started school in the fall.
“I went on to play football and wrestle, continued to work at the bowling alley, pledged to Adelphic and served as the student manager for the Student Union through my time on campus. I especially enjoyed the comradery with the football team and the athletes with who I became friends. I still maintain lifelong connections with friends across the country who I went to Olivet with.”
Alan shaped his path of study around psychology and physical education with a goal to become a teacher and coach. He began his career in Marshall after graduating, only to be drafted by the Army to serve in the Vietnam War one year later. During his time of service, Alan was awarded the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
“After being drafted, I was disconnected for two years with no interaction with Olivet,” Alan said. “I was a co-captain of the wrestling team with Jim McCloughan ’68 during our senior year. Jim was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2017 for his service in the Vietnam War and invited me to be a part of his ceremony in Washington, D.C. I didn’t even realize until I got home and visited OC again that Jim and many others in my graduating class had also been drafted. We formed a unique bond between classmates over our common experience serving in the military in Vietnam.”
As a veteran, Alan continued his career in education and earned a master’s degree in physical education and athletic administration from Central Michigan University in 1977. He then served as the vice president of institutional advancement at Coastal Carolina University until 2002, when he joined the Olivet College staff as vice president of development.
“I had considered working at Olivet previously, and when I received the offer to become the vice president of development, it seemed like a great fit as my daughters were preparing to enter college themselves,” Alan said. “I was able to connect and interact with many other alumni in my role. I found out that my classmates were in careers that I couldn’t even imagine. Many who graduate from OC are in a career that is different from the major they studied. I think this is because we were taught how to think, how to handle situations and how to work with others beyond a specific major. Those things are important as you continue on in your career. As new challenges come up, the College helped you look at those challenges and take them on.”
After three-and-a-half years as a staff member, Alan transitioned to a role at Purdue University, but he continued to stay in touch with his connections at OC. Still today, Alan is an advocate and supporter of Olivet.
“Olivet was always more like a family than a college,” Alan said. “Everyone was always willing to help you and was interested in you — both the faculty and fellow students. Because of this, Olivet has always been a special place for me. Whenever I went back to Olivet on the weekends for football games or just driving the roads into campus, it lifted my spirits. Olivet is the place where my roots were planted; my experience there was just groundbreaking and set me on a path for a successful future.”
This fall, Asenath Andrews ’73 and Dr. John DeGarmo ’93 were also honored as Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. In addition, David Macqueen ’75 earned the 1844 Award and Christine Pedder ’11 earned the Young Alumni Award.
Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.