As chair of Music Education at UA from 1949-1979, Cleino expanded the undergraduate program, began both the masters and doctoral programs, personally advised music education majors, and led his department to national recognition.
Cleino was named professor emeritus at UA in 1980. In recognition of his contributions, he was presented with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2004.
As a pioneer in the use of television to expand music education in Alabama, Cleino, who died in April 2015, created “Music Time,” which he wrote, produced and personally delivered from 1956 to 1972. Students from Verner Elementary School served as his studio class. By providing music lessons through this innovative method to thousands of children for 17 years, Cleino received the Alabama Educational Television Network Service Award in 1973.
During World War II, Cleino served in the Army, where he reached the rank of captain and earned the Bronze Star.
Cleino was married to Dr. Elizabeth Cleino, known informally as Bettie Anne, for 72 years. Cleino’s daughter, Anne Witt, a music instructor at UA, is founder of Strings in Schools.
“We are very proud of Dad’s recognition,” Witt said. “He inspired us in so many ways. Dad’s unwavering Christian faith was the foundation for his life, and his integrity was evident to all who knew him. His innovative professional philosophy was a great model for us. We often heard ‘look around and see what you can do to help. How can you make things better?’ His influence will continue to live on through us children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”