Barefoot and Bon Jovi: alumnus promotes campus to outsiders
After working as MVNU’s alumni director for 10 years, Tom West is now showcasing his alma mater to a new audience.
West moved to the role of campus events manager last year. His new job is to invite external groups to use MVNU facilities and increase awareness of MVNU’s campus and character.
MVNU is trying to attract professional, non-profit and other groups to rent spaces on campus for retreats, concerts, athletic events, conferences and workshops. New spaces like Ariel Arena, Foster Hall and Hunter Hall provide many opportunities for the public to visit and use campus facilities.
West created a marketing plan and mission statement for this position from scratch.
“The best part about this job is there isn’t someone else’s manual of dos and don’ts,” West said. “It was kind of like a clean slate, and I could just go and create the position.”
West said his passion for MVNU makes it an easy job.
“Because I love my alma mater, it’s easy to promote,” he said. “It’s easy for me to sell something I believe in.”
The campus atmosphere and facilities also attract potential visitors, he said.
“I think our campus sells itself, so it’s just getting people here,” West said.
The purpose of his job is to balance the three Rs: revenue, recruitment and relationships. Specifically, West builds relationships with external groups, recruits people to attend the university and brings in revenue for our campus.
West has worked for MVNU for almost 17 years. He graduated in 1990 with a major in Christian education and a minor in sociology. Before returning to MVNU, West worked for the University of Cincinnati and the University of Missouri–Kansas City.
West came to work for MVNU in 1999 because he “felt called to Christian higher education and wanted to give back to students.”
West has been working in this position for 16 months. His office is in the old athletic offices located in the Prince Student Union in the hallway behind the game room.
This past summer, people kept asking West how he liked his new space. Being in a hallway by himself, West took the opportunity to enjoy the solitude. He said he felt right at home working in bare feet and listening to Bon Jovi.
To promote the campus, West works with a company called Unique Venues that markets MVNU to over 50,000 vendor contacts.
West said the campus has been so successful with booking that some people have been turned away because of conflicts with space.
Last year, 1,500 people visited MVNU’s campus for the Hidden Gems AAU Basketball Tournament, and they are scheduled to come back three more times next year.
The campus will also host the National Christian Schools Athletic Association’s regional basketball and baseball tournaments next year, along with the YMCA Leadership Training Camp next summer.
Although the University takes advantage of every opportunity to introduce external groups to the campus, West said students and athletics are always the first priority when it comes to reserving the University’s spaces.
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