On Sunday the 9th of January the WSU and Nexus received news that Huy Vu passed away suddenly at the age of 43. And in all honesty, it has taken us until the day of his funeral service to put into words what a loss that is for students and the University as a whole. Even now it is hard not to stumble over simple platitudes. Words honestly don’t seem sufficient enough to encapsulate the man and the impact he has had on this campus.
Many will remember Huy’s work within the Management School as the Divisional Manager – Students, or his previous role as the lead for international students. Most others will also know that Huy Vu will be inexorably referred to as the voice of Graduation. Chiefly though Huy was someone whose world was defined by those he loved. He was the very definition of a family man and set a nearly unattainable standard for the rest of us to be measured by. He was a man who always found joy and optimism in every circumstance and whose face would light up as he would start most coffee meetings recounting stories of “Lisa and the kids.” He was someone who had found simple, unbridled happiness and was generous with how he showed affection.
For the WSU though, Huy was a friend and an ally who never let his own reputation or standing get in the way of doing something fun or exciting for the tauira he represented. This was something that both Nexus and the WSU took advantage of constantly.
In the 2021 WSU Guide to Student Life A-Z we composed a throwaway joke:
H: Huy Vu “Mark my words, graduation four years from now… That dude can pronounce all the names.” Classic Vu! Huy’s response to this was to suggest that we had lost our edge as there was no reference to his diminutive stature, his excessive hair gel, or the fact that he was Fui Te’evale’s hype man.
The same year we produced a deck of playing cards in Te Reo Māori where the Jack bore a striking resemblance to Huy. He approved of the design right away before asking what his cut of the profits would be for likeness rights.
It was really easy to like Huy, but as you got to know him it became easier to respect him. Whether it was working with our advocates in the best interest of a single International student who was dealing with a bad landlord or co-ordinating an amazing race, Huy embodied the student-centric outlook that inspired those around him to follow his example.
Huy was the perfect storm of overly sociable and tenured that made him the perfect resource for the WSU. It didn’t matter whether it was a question about FMD or a Nexus article on Green Washing, the answer was usually that Huy would “probably know someone…”
As we stated, words hardly seem sufficient enough to encapsulate a friend who has gone far too soon. He was the architect of the Amazing Race, the driving force behind Noho Marae, a consummate professional, someone with an infectiously positive outlook, someone who would smirk and use the phrase “career-limiting” most meetings, a sports fan who loved Liverpool Football Club and a bit of a geek.
Most of all though we are pretty sure Huy would want to be remembered as a loving Husband, Father, and friend.