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Portrait of Kevin Stoller

Kevin Stoller: Mastodon Memories

This summer series explores the campus experiences of current PFW faculty and staff who are also alumni.

By Blake Sebring

August 10, 2023

Kevin Stoller, B.A. ’05; M.A. ’09

Instructional Design Consultant for Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching; Senior Lecturer for the Department of Communication

The thing Kevin Stoller loves most about attending and now working at Purdue University Fort Wayne are the relationships he’s been able to develop. More than just building those relationships that shape his life, they’re also helping shape his professional journey. 

Where are you from and why did you choose to go to school here?

KS: I’m from the area, up in Leo. My family moved here in 1988, and I was in the sixth grade at the time. This school was close and it financially made a lot of sense. You get a lot for your money.

What car were you driving at the time?

KS: A black 1998 Ford F150.

Why did you pick your major?

KS: I love people, so I wanted relationships, and that’s something that’s been a common thread throughout everything that I have done. Business management gave me the opportunity to learn about and engage with people. This was really my first love.

How did attending school here change your life?

KS: I don’t think it was the school, I think it was the people. You run across folks, and they take an interest in you and they see things you don’t see. That was me to a T. I didn’t have an intention of coming to college out of high school. I didn’t know if I could do this school thing, and a mix of instructors and professors who are really good at what they did, really good at building relationships and communicating, that’s what really changed my world. That shifted that, being here and a part of the different departments.

What kind of music were you listening to, and who were your favorite artists or bands?

KS: I’m a classic country guy, old-school. Anything from Waylon Jennings to Johnny Cash. I’ve actually enjoyed some of the newer guys like Jamie Johnson who have more of a grunge kind of sound. I liked Alabama, the Statler Brothers, the Oak Ridge Boys.

Did you have a favorite area of research?

KS: In my grad studies I focused on fathers and sons. I have three sons. Anything that can be applicable I saw in the classroom translating outside; I really loved that. The communication master’s degree, that’s what I focused a ton on, and that was my passion.

Did you have any favorite professors and why?

KS: In my undergrad, Ed Leonard. I took quite a few classes with him. He gave me the most disappointing grade I ever got, on a final presentation. He asked us one question in that presentation we couldn’t answer and he gave us a B when I felt like we earned an A. That’s where you find a good instructor, they built the relationship, and he was a professional. He was willing to listen, but he stood his ground. In my grad studies, I think I took six or seven classes with Marcia Dixson. Any class I could take with Marcia, I took them because she had a blend of high expectations but giving you the resources to get there. It challenged me, and I really appreciated what she taught. Dave Switzer was another home run hitter. I remember he was one of the first classes I took as a grad student. He walked into that classroom with no textbook and he began to talk and he talked all semester and taught well from up here (pointing to his head).

Why did you want to come back to the university?

KS: After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I got into some real estate investments, and the downturn in the economy turned me back to the university. That was a rough time, and it was excellent timing that one of my instructors in the communication department, Emily Bermes, reached out to ask if I had ever thought about coming back to grad school. It was perfect timing. I started as a graduate teaching assistant when I went and got my master's in 2008.

How has PFW changed for the better?

KS: I think it’s more of me just becoming more acquainted with people. In my position now, I get to see a lot of folks who are just really passionate about teaching and have interest in their students. For me, my perception shifted to where there are a lot of people here who care and want to see their students succeed more than just in their classrooms.