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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 28, 2006

At home in Eaton

by Erin Rosacker

The Chatriand family's rendition of the Green Acres title song might go something like, "Dorm living is the life for me." Craig, who is the residence hall director for Eaton Hall, lives with his wife Koryn and daughter Anna in a first-floor apartment. He hasn't lived off a university campus since leaving home for college in 1997.

Craig and Koryn met at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, where Koryn was a resident adviser in the dormitory Craig lived in as a freshman. The couple married in 2000, the year that Craig earned his first hall director position as an undergraduate.

The Chatriands

(l-r) Koryn, Anna and Craig Chatriand are first-floor residents of Eaton Hall. Craig, a department of residence employee, is the hall director. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The Chatriands moved to Greeley, Colo., to attend graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado before winding up at ISU's Willow Hall, just three months shy of the birth of their first child. Anna was born Oct. 7, 2004. Already preparing for campus life, her trip home from the hospital was timed to avoid the crowds leaving ISU's Homecoming football game.

When the hall director position at Eaton added summer duties, the Chatriands packed up again and moved west for roomier living quarters more suitable for a family. In six years of married life, the couple hasn't lived in one place for more than two years.

"Some people spring clean, we just move," Koryn laughed.

The apartments are furnished, as residence hall directors tend to be nomads. As a result, the directors and their families typically travel light. But when Anna bounced into the world, that required some extras. The Chatriands acquired a crib and the residence department scrounged up a couple extra dressers for the nursery.

Koryn, who, like Craig, has a master's degree in education leadership and policy studies, is a full-time mom. With Craig's flexible, but somewhat erratic schedule, he is able to work in quality time for just the three of them. Although he maintains an office down the hall from their apartment, he still has to find the time between meetings and supervising a seven-person community adviser staff to get away.


Living where you work makes it hard to separate the two, but having a family has helped Craig balance his work with his personal life.

"It's very, very difficult to separate work and home. It takes a little while to be able to not feel like you're at work all the time," Craig said. "Balance isn't as much a day-to-day thing, it's more week-to-week. And we know there are busy times of the year, so we make up for it other times."

"What we've found that helps is having specific family nights where, unless it's an emergency, we know that we can have that intense family time," Koryn explained. "Sometimes we need that since we can't get away."

Getting away

The campus can become an island. Craig can go a couple weeks without leaving Iowa State property. The family does different things to broaden its scope beyond campus life. Koryn is involved in volunteer and mom groups and the family participates in church activities. They enjoy the outdoors, taking trips to Ledges State Park or city parks in Ames, and road trips to Des Moines can provide much-needed getaways.

"A lot of times, during the breaks, we like to stay here because that is our break -- because work is different and our living environment is different," Koryn said.

With their immediate families living so far away -- Craig is from Montana, Koryn from Idaho -- Eaton Hall truly is home. The students don't necessarily understand that.

"This is our permanent address," Craig chuckled.

Anna's world

Living with 315 students, Anna is showing signs of an outgoing personality, flashing big smiles and roaming the hallways to see what is happening. She likes to take walks on the hall floors and check open doorways, an invitation for her to stop by and snoop. The door decorations and pictures are popular attractions for the 18-month-old, keeping those winter months busy with indoor sightseeing trips.

Her first birthday party last fall was an event. With staff members from Willow and Eaton, the other hall directors and friends of Anna and Koryn, the apartment was packed with "fifty of her closest friends and neighbors," Craig said.

She ambled door to door through-out Eaton last Halloween, adding "knock-knock" to her budding vocabulary. Instead of getting candy, the tiny Eeyore handed out cookies.

A trip to the mailbox is an adventure, with the postal center located in the bustling UDCC. Her backyard is central campus, and swim lessons are next door at State Gym.

With the weather warming up, Anna has her spot picked out to watch the students play Frisbee in the courtyard. "During move in and move out, she likes to stand at the patio window and look out and wave to everybody," Craig said.

Advantages and disadvantages

Living as a family in the residence halls has its ups and downs. There is built-in entertainment just about everywhere you turn. From building activities, like ice cream socials, to campus events and programs, there is never a lack of things to do.

Despite having a reserved parking spot, Craig and Koryn still run into the problem of finding it unavailable when they need it. Lugging groceries and a toddler isn't easy, especially from a parking lot instead of a garage. Not to mention the near impossibility of a spontaneous visit from friends. To ensure a ticket-free visit, parking passes must be arranged in advance.

And what about the endless supply of potential babysitters right outside the door?

"We have many, many offers and many people that we would trust, but we don't do that much stuff," Craig said.

"It hasn't gotten to the point yet where we have actually figured out the babysitting thing," Koryn mused. "Maybe next year we'll figure that out a little bit more."


"It takes a little while to be able to not feel like you're at work all the time."

Craig Chatriand