Appreciation for a Dynamic University
Joel A. Stone, M.D. (College ’70, Medicine ’74)
For Joel A. Stone, a self-described “street kid” who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, memories of his first visit to the University in 1965 remain fresh and detailed. Arriving with his father, he was struck by the lush green of the Grounds and the butter-covered, distinctly Southern-style, white-bread sandwich he ate at the nearby Howard Johnson’s.
For years before the visit, Dr. Stone heard his father—himself a U.Va. student in the 1930s, until his return home to help support his younger brothers during the Depression—sing the school’s praises. In particular, the elder Stone touted the University’s strong academics. In 1966, as the son prepared to leave for Charlottesville, his father urged him to take advantage of opportunities to grow intellectually.
A sense of formality defined the University culture that Dr. Stone encountered as a first-year student. The all-male student body attended classes—even on Saturdays—in coat and tie. Aided by a scholarship, he soon chose to major in biology, a logical step toward reaching his ultimate goal, studying medicine. His major classes were held in the newly opened Gilmer Hall. But he was not completely wedded to his studies. He enjoyed the University’s social scene and helped found the Beta Psi chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, one of the first at U.Va. to welcome members of various ethnic backgrounds.
“The Grounds epitomized everything I thought a college should be,” Dr. Stone said.
Reflecting on the totality of his student experience, Dr. Stone expressed appreciation not simply for the academic challenges but also for the climate of good will and collegiality among students and faculty. “The University was a supportive institution, where people were genuinely willing to help each other,” he said. “They were not trying to undermine each other.”
Gratitude, in part, fuels Dr. Stone’s decision to give to the University. Without the scholarship support he received in the late 1960s, he could not have attended U.Va. But it’s more than a backward glance that inspires him to give.
“I am impressed with the dynamic, evolving institution that the University is. I want to help it continue along that path for future students.”