Ernest Stone, 1971-1981
Growing up on Sand Mountain in DeKalb County during the depression of the 1930s had a profound effect upon Ernest Stone, resulting in a work ethic that would stay with him when he went away to college in Jacksonville. He worked his way through school until he graduated from the Jacksonville State Teachers College in 1933. While in Jacksonville, Stone met Kitty Gunn, whom he married on August 18, 1934. Together, the Stones made a lasting impression on education in Jacksonville, as Mrs. Kitty Stone would join her husband as an educational administrator. Her post: Jacksonville Elementary Laboratory School, which is now named Kitty Stone Elementary School in her memory.
Following his Bachelor of Science degree, Stone received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Alabama. He received honorary doctor of law degrees from Samford University, the University of Alabama and Jacksonville State University. He also studied at Michigan State University and Columbia University.
Prior to assuming the presidency of JSU, Stone served as principal at both Kilpatrick Junior High School and Crossville High School in DeKalb County. Later, he was superintendent of DeKalb County Schools. After a stint in the U.S. Navy, he came to Jacksonville to teach in 1946. He worked as extension director for the college, then superintendent of Jacksonville Laboratory Schools, before deciding to run for state superintendent of education. He won by a landslide and served for four years until 1970, when he came home to lead JSU on January 1, 1971.
In addition to his service to JSU, Stone was president of the Alabama Education Association (1947-48) and received Alabama's Most Promising Educator's award in 1948. He also served and conducted education studies in the Marshall Aid countries (1950) and Japan, India and Israel (1969) for the federal government. He chaired the Alabama Council of University Presidents and was president of the Gulf South Athletic Conference. He was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor (1973) and was decorated by the Secretary of the Army for distinguished civilian service (1981).
During Stone's decade of service as JSU president, the annual budget reached $16.9 million and the campus area exceeded 300 acres. Dr. Stone died in 1989, and Mrs. Stone passed away in 2000. The Ernest Stone Center is named in his honor.