This Side of Theory

Student Affairs Reflections and Musings


In 30 minutes, I will no longer be employed by Indiana University South Bend, though my last day in the office was yesterday. The two and a half weeks since submitting my resignation have been a bittersweet reflection of my time at the university. For those who don’t know, I started in June 2008 as part of the university’s launch of housing and residence life. Until the doors opened later that summer, the campus was entirely commuter.

Before I left, a few people asked me about my legacy and, truly, I have no idea what my legacy at the university will be. Only time will tell that. But sitting in my office recently thinking about how much I saw during those three years — the highs, the lows, the first successes, the first failures, the moments we surpassed all expectations, the moments we came up short — I realized that what was important was that we continued to grow and thrive.

I sincerely believe this opportunity was once-in-a-lifetime — how many people will ever get the chance to start housing on a campus where it has never existed before?  — and I believe it was where I was meant to be. In those three years, I learned more about myself personally and professionally than I ever dreamed possible.

This plant has been in my office since July 2008, though it wasn’t always quite so overwhelming. In fact, when it first arrived, it was tiny and in a much smaller pot. It’s become irrevocably attached to the past three years for me. Before I left the office for the last time last night, I cut three clippings from the stems and planted them in potting soil. I left them on the counter of the office with the following note for the staff team:

In 2008, I started on this journey, having no real idea what it meant to be part of a new housing endeavor. Shortly after we moved into the Community Building and these offices, I brought a plant in – it seemed like a nice addition to my sunny office space.

Over the past three years, no matter what was happening around me or across the river, the plant continued to flourish with sunlight, water and the few minutes every week I spent caring for it.

As I’ve thought about leaving and what it means to leave a place I’ve seen through highs and lows, the image of the plant always comes to me. It started as something so small and unnoticeable and grew to be a major feature in my office, taking over the ledge and sprawling. It’s just like our wee department – starting from a place of anonymity and becoming so invested into the rest of the university.

I’ve left you each a cutting from the plant to care for and nurture, and despite claims from some of you that you have no green thumb, I have hopes you’ll continue to grow what was here in the beginning.

Thank you – for being my team, for being my family, and for being the right people in the right place at the right time.



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  • Eric Stoller

    Congratulations on your new job! Great reflections on your experience at IUSB. You’re going to do great things in Illinois! Cheers!