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Van Wright shows support for the University by wearing BG attire, recruiting

As well as being known as the man on campus with 24 pairs of orange shoes, Van Wright, assistant to the vice president for enrollment management, is involved in student affairs, student activities, student athletics and alumni affairs.

“Unless the snow is really deep, I’m wearing orange shoes every day because I’m proud of my school, and in my business, when you’re 57 years old, talking to a lot of 17-year-olds, you have to be memorable,” Wright said.

Wright said his main goal is to “recruit, retain and connect students to move the University forward.”

“We do that one student at a time,” Wright said. “Every student is valuable and has their own mark on the University. If we accept them and they choose to come here, they’re a Falcon.”

Wright grew up in Bowling Green and said he was around the University a lot during his childhood for various reasons.

He decided to attend Bowling Green because it seemed like the right fit, he said. As a student, Wright said he gained valuable experience for his job today by working as a campus tour guide and learning how to listen to what students and families are looking for.

During his time at the University, Wright also met his wife, Tracey Stroh.

Tracey said the couple met in a creative writing class during their freshman year.

Not only does the couple love Bowling Green, but Tracey said both she and Wright have a desire to help young people.

Wright said his love for the University grew from attending sports events at the University as a child with his father.

Cal Bowers, director of corporate and foundation relations at the University and former University football player, said this support from Wright was evident.

“Van was a very vocal supporter of BGSU and a lot of the times when I would come to the sidelines, I would be like ‘Who is this guy yelling back here?’” Bowers said. “I liked his style ‘cause he was on my side.”

Despite not living in the area since 1977, Wright said having roots in Bowling Green helped bring him back to the community personally and professionally in September 2005.

After volunteering on the Alumni Board of Directors for five years, Wright said he made the decision to sell his business and knew quickly what he wanted to do next.

“It took no time to decide what I would like to do was work at the University,” Wright said.

Wright said his role eventually morphed into what it is today: recruiting, retaining and connecting to move the University as a whole forward.

Now in the ninth year of the recruiting cycle, Wright said his success stories are legendary.

“I can talk about graduate after graduate who succeeded,” Wright said.

Wright said he would not be able to do what he does successfully without the help of a team.

Deanna Vatan Woodhouse, director of the Office of the Division of Student Affairs, said Wright’s positive energy and love for the University are contagious.

“When you work with him, you feel like you’re doing the right thing by being at [the University]— but you also feel like there is so much more that we could be doing,” she said.

She said Wright’s genuine attitude is “captivating” for students.

“He is part of their [University] experience before they even come to the University,” Woodhouse said. “He is not just trying to sell you something; he is trying to tell you how amazing [the University] can be for any one individual.”

Andy Alt, director of New Student Orientation and First Year Programs, said Wright’s genuine personality allows him to connect with all different types of people.

“One of the things that really impresses me about Van is his ability to connect with anyone of any age,” Alt said. “Not even just age, it’s race and ethnicity and I think it’s because he is an incredibly genuine person.”

Because of Wright’s genuine nature and love for Bowling Green, Wright embodies the University, Alt said.

“He is [the University],” Alt said. “As much as one person can embody a university, I think Van does.”

Woodhouse said Wright’s sons, Alex and Cameron, did not fall far from the tree.

“The entire family just has a fantastic positive energy and love for the University,” Woodhouse said. “They have an aura of brown and orange.”

Both Alex and Cameron graduated from the University and married University graduates.

It was Tracey who started Wright’s collection of 24 pairs of orange shoes five years ago, and said his enthusiasm “just came like that.”

“I’m very proud of what he does and the effort he makes on behalf of the students at the University,” she said.

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