Much has changed in Brock University’s Department of Residences during the past four decades, but Jamie Fleming’s leadership and care have remained constant.
As Director of Residences for 40 years, Fleming has helped grow the University’s on-campus residence system and has positively impacted countless students and employees who have benefited from his mentorship and collaboration.
With a retirement date set for Tuesday, May 31, Fleming reflected on his time at Brock and how he and his team have contributed to offering students a transformative university experience.
Fleming arrived at Brock in 1982, when DeCew was the only residence on campus. With the assistance of 10 student dons and one administrative assistant, he oversaw a residence operation that accommodated 414 students.
Over time, the University grew and along with it the residence system expanded. Every few years, 250 to 300 beds were added through the construction of new buildings.
Just last month, Brock’s eighth residence officially opened, putting Brock Residences’ bed count at 2,777. There are now 25 full-time employees and about 120 student staff working for the Department of Residences.
“The job kept getting a little bit bigger and a little more complicated, but I always had a great staff team to make it work,” said Fleming. “The people at Brock make my job enjoyable and rewarding.”
The role of residence staff members can be nuanced. Most residence students are 17- and 18-year-olds who have moved away for the first time. The Residences team takes on the important responsibility of helping students transition from being under their parents’ care in a community they’re familiar with, to living with fellow students on a university campus with the population of a small town.
“Even if they’re moving away by a couple of hours, for some students it’s as though they’ve moved to the other side of the world,” said Fleming.
“We take our responsibility to heart and do our best to support students, while also trying to treat them as adults and hold them accountable. It’s a challenging space to navigate, but I think we do it well.”
Students will often turn to their dons or other residence staff for advice and care. Fleming said some have sought help when they were in crisis.
“Many people don’t realize that we have literally saved lives,” he said. “Residence is not just about bricks and mortar, and it’s more than just a place to sleep and eat. It’s about the people.”
Fleming is proud of his team for continuing to provide an exceptional university experience by keeping students at the centre of all they do. Beyond offering great facilities, Residences provides an intentional and structured curriculum that focuses on increasing student independence, resilience and emotional intelligence
“Residence plays an important role in developing students to be respectful and responsible,” he said. “I’m proud to have been a part of this stage of students’ lives for so long.”
In his retirement, Fleming will miss interacting with members of the Brock community but looks forward to balancing rest and relaxation with travel and spending more time at cottages.
“This year will be the first time in four decades I won’t be on campus Labour Day weekend to welcome students and their parents during Move-In Day,” he says. “I’ll be there in spirit, though.”
In recognition of Fleming’s long-standing service and outstanding contributions to the University, a retirement celebration is being held Thursday, May 12 from 3 to 6 p.m. in DeCew Residence Dining Hall. Attendees are asked to RSVP via Eventbrite.
Brock employees, students and alumni are invited to congratulate Fleming via a Kudoboard.
Those interested in contributing to the Jamie Fleming Scholarship can donate online.