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A Look at Student Affairs with Eric Stoller

Welcome to 2013! Here at Higher Ed Solo, we decided to kick the year off with a bang – literally – and publishing an interview with student affairs pro Eric Stoller.

In higher education, we all know the Stollercoaster. And if you don’t, then you should. The self-avowed introvert (I’m not convinced yet) brings his high-energy approach to conferences and consulting gigs all over.

Eric Stoller is a higher education consultant who also blogs on student affairs and technology for Inside Higher Ed. The conquistador (he might like that label) is a seasoned professional in student affairs who took his show on the road. When he became a consultant, Eric was able to reach more people and do more writing and speaking – something he’s very good at.

In this interview, we talked about lots and lots of things. That’s how Eric works. He’s all over the map. At the core of our discussion, however, was the idea that even solo practitioners can help out in student affairs. Key to accomplishing that was… SURPRISE… listening and sharing. We also talked about how consultants are a lot like Armies of One.

Quick Five – Don’t Think, Just Answer

Oh, and Eric answered the Quick Five. Here are his answers:

What’s your favorite food?

A theme with me is I like everything. If I’m out and about in a new city – and I think this year I had something like 40 trips – it’s not an easy question for me to answer. I would say Thai, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, homestyle German. I love just a lot of different things.

What was the last book you read?

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

You have a day to live, what do you do first?

Figure out how to live longer. No, I write. Honestly, I would just try to tell a story saying, “Hey. I tried my best, and I hope you do the same.”

You can invite 10 people – living or dead – to dinner. Who are they?

Well, the dead people would probably drive the living away because they would smell bad. … You know, I would like to have a conservation with bell hooks when she was younger because I think she’s getting a little bit tired now. She’s been on the road doing activism for quite a while. I don’t really need to have people who are passed on. Like Angela Davis, I saw her speak several years ago, or Maya Angelou. They’re just like rock star women who I want to hear, and I don’t want to say anything. I just want to sit back and listen to their dinner conversation. Just smart people who are going to have interesting conversations. And I don’t even necessarily want to talk about famous people. Like my Grandpa Paul. He was one of the smartest people I know. Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer when I was 18. I would love to have had more time with him, so I would add him to the list. I feel like a lot of my craftiness, the way I wiggle out of questions, comes from him. He was the one who taught me how to play chess and various games, so he’s added to the list. Musicians, you know, I just love music. It’d be interesting, maybe a jazz musician. Maybe Maynard Ferguson. I think he passed away. Maybe Maynard Ferguson before he stopped being able to hit the high notes and gained a third person. For me it would be anyone in the arts and sciences who has an opinion. I don’t necessarily need folks who are Wikipedia articles for their fame, but just interesting conversations.

What’s your favorite word?