Joan Stone, a former Rochester Institute of Technology dean and university leader, died July 22 after a 20-year battle with cancer. Stone dedicated 35 years of service to the university.
“Since first diagnosed with cancer more than 20 years ago, Joan had repeatedly and characteristically defied the formidable odds against her,” says Kit Mayberry, vice president of special projects. “RIT was indeed fortunate to have been the beneficiary of Joan Stone’s uncompromising intellectual standards, boundless imagination and profound belief in the power of education. Her colleagues and friends will feel deeply the loss of her unwavering loyalty and selfless support.”
Stone joined RIT in 1976 as a faculty member in mathematics at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. She proceeded to hold numerous leadership positions at the university. She chaired RIT’s Faculty Council (now Academic Senate) from 1990-1993 — a particularly difficult period in RIT’s history. “Many will remember how deftly Joan steered the Faculty Council through the CIA-related controversy of those years,” says Mayberry.
In 1994, Stone was appointed associate provost for academic programs, a position in which she oversaw the implementation of RIT’s 1994 Strategic Plan, the first Academic Program Review in 1995, and the 1997 Middle States Self-Study process.
In the late 1990s, Stone served on the curriculum development “Crossroads” committee in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. It was this experience that initiated her 13-year love affair with the talents and complexities that define RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, says Mayberry. After serving two years as interim dean of the college, she emerged from an international search process as dean — a job she repeatedly claimed was “the best job at RIT.”
As world-renowned designer Massimo Vignelli has attested, RIT’s new Vignelli Center for Design Studies, which opened in the fall of 2010, would not have been realized without Stone’s visionary leadership and fastidious attention to the project, says Mayberry. Upon first meeting the Vignellis, she immediately understood the powerful partnership that could and should evolve between their remarkable work and the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. After stepping down as dean in 2009, she devoted her professional time to the analysis and cataloguing of the Vignelli archives that now fill the center.
A native of Chittenango, N.Y, Stone received her bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University, a master’s degree from Syracuse University, and her Ed.D. from the University of Rochester.
The RIT flag will be lowered to half staff Tuesday in memory of Stone.
A memorial service is planned for early September. Details will be announced as they are confirmed. Those wishing to honor Stone’s memory are asked to contribute to the Joan B. Stone Endowed Scholarship Fund, which she founded to support MFA students in the College of Imaging Arts and Science. Gifts may be mailed to RIT, Office of Development, 116 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, N.Y., 14623. Questions may be directed to 585-475-5500.