Dr. Stone recently received the coveted, Order of the Long Leaf Pine, “for a career spent helping steer the state through critical developments in its system of post-secondary education.” Check out The Pilot’s article on his achievements.
Outsiders are astounded to learn that in Sandhills’ 50-year history, there have only been two presidents. So much of what Sandhills offers, its dedication to the community and even the beauty of the campus is due to Dr. Raymond Stone, the first of its two exceptional presidents.
An educator and leader, Dr. Stone was serving as education assistant for Governor Terry Sanford in 1962 when a Commission to Study Education Beyond the High School made its recommendation to establish a statewide system of community colleges. The governor directed Dr. Stone to help draft legislation to make that happen.
After community college legislation became law, Dr. Stone helped organize local advocacy groups to establish 21 colleges. On December 27, 1963, he was chosen as the founding president of Sandhills Community College and remained until retirement in 1989.
“As I look back, Sandhills was my life’s work and I take great happiness when I realize how many lives the college has changed,” Dr. Stone reflects.
Sandhills was North Carolina’s first comprehensive community college and continues to be a model in the state and the nation. But the college started in offices above what’s now The Ice Cream Parlor in Southern Pines, with early classes held in hotel meeting rooms, churches, and other space.
“Happily, we were given 230 incredibly beautiful acres, a gift from Mary Luman Meyer,” Dr. Stone recalls. “We directed the architects to design a welcoming campus, with open courtyards, a place that would be appealing.”
The method for forming the curriculum remains today. “We looked at the community and its population to determine what programs we should offer, to educate people to fill the job needs in the area,” Dr. Stone says.
Dr. Stone continues to hear the success stories. “Sandhills has changed people’s lives and I am so proud of the difference it continues to make,” he says.