Vicki Oleen, this ArtsGala is for you

Vicki Oleen

It can be said that every ArtsGala is special, but the most recent one was more so. That’s because it was the last one for Vicki Oleen, who is retiring after 48 years with Wright State.

As managing director in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Oleen played a large role in making every ArtsGala happen since its inception in 2000. So much so that the recent event was dedicated to her. At ArtsGala’s opening ceremony, she was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a bouquet
of praise.

She first became involved when the art, music, and theatre, dance, and motion picture departments prepared to stage the inaugural event. “I was asked to work with everyone to coordinate—it was the first time we transformed the Creative Arts Center into an entertainment venue. I then did it every year. I love ArtsGala.”

Oleen continued, “There’s something special about everyone coming together and working together, especially in the week before. It’s good for the students to have the opportunity of putting together a show with short rehearsals.”

She shares the success with students who helped her. “I’ve always had student stage managers. Without them it would be difficult. For them, it’s about event planning in addition to stage managing. It’s part of their education without them being in a classroom.”

Anna Hunter, a theatre design technology major concentrating on stage management and property art, helped Oleen during the 2022 and 2023 ArtsGalas. “She’s fantastic about letting students take the lead and supporting them when they need it,” Hunter said. “I adore Vicki. She’s a wonderful, wonderful woman. It’s been an incredible learning experience that I wouldn’t necessarily have received in a lot of other places.”

As for Oleen retiring, Hunter said, “A piece of my heart will go with her.”

This article was originally published in the fall 2023 issue of the Wright State Magazine. Read more stories at

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