Bridgewater College President Phillip C. Stone Announces Retirement

Church of the Brethren Newsline
April 3, 2009

Bridgewater (Va.) College president Phillip C. Stone announced today that he will retire at the end of the 2009-10 academic year, concluding 16 years at the helm of the institution. Stone took office on Aug. 1, 1994, as the seventh president of Bridgewater College. His retirement will be effective June 30, 2010.

In a letter to the college community, Stone wrote, “It is with bitter-sweet emotions that I announce that I will retire from the presidency of the College, effective June 30, 2010. The feelings are bitter because I shall so sorely miss being involved in the life of this wonderful campus community. The sweet part of my decision is the opportunity to have more time for my family, including my four wonderful grandchildren; reading; Lincoln research; travel; and, especially, spending more time in Germany where my wife and I have an apartment.” He thanked college employees and students for their friendship over the years and noted that being a part of the lives of Bridgewater students “has enriched my life beyond measure.”

Stone’s administration oversaw increased academic and athletic excellence, capital improvements, student successes, increased endowment, and expanded co-curricular opportunities. During his tenure as president, Stone–a member of the Bridgewater class of 1965–has overseen great progress and expansion in all areas of campus life, including undergraduate program growth, a nearly doubling of enrollment, and facility and technology expansion. Under his guidance, the college implemented its signature Personal Development Portfolio (PDP) program, elevated the quality of its faculty and staff and secured its financial underpinnings through the current Every Student, One Commitment Campaign for Bridgewater College.

James L. Keeler, chair of the Bridgewater College Board of Trustees, noted that Stone’s “leadership roles in the Church of the Brethren translated into a unique understanding of the church’s joint heritage with the College and he has maintained those strong ties.” Keeler went on to note that Stone’s leadership roles in the Church of the Brethren, his accomplishments as a lawyer, and his love of history have all benefitted Bridgewater College.

According to Keeler, a national search will be conducted to identify Stone’s successor.

Born in Bassett, Va., Stone attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Economics and received a law degree from the University of Virginia. After 24 years of law practice with the Harrisonburg, Va., law firm of Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver, Stone accepted the invitation to become president of Bridgewater College. In his law practice, he was involved in estate planning, corporate, and health law. He was elected a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, the American Bar Foundation, and the Virginia Bar Foundation. He was also listed in the first four editions of The Best Lawyers in America. In addition, he has held leadership positions in the Virginia State Bar, the Virginia Bar Association and other legal societies. In 1997, he served as president of the Virginia Bar Association. He has chaired the Virginia State Bar Committee on Ethics and its Disciplinary Board. He has been president or chairman of several bar groups.

Stone served as moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference from 1990-91. Previously, he served as chair of the Church of the Brethren General Board. He has been a Bridgewater College Trustee since 1975. He also has served on the Board of Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg for nine years, serving five years as chair. He was appointed by Virginia governor Mark Warner to the Commonwealth Transportation Board from 2002-05.

In addition, Stone is chair of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and has served as a trustee of the accrediting organization since 2007. He has been active in the NCAA as chair of the NCAA III Presidents Council (2004-06) and has served on a number of its committees, including Audit, Executive and Special Committee on Executive Authority. From 2005-06 he was a member of the NCAA Presidential Task Force on the Future of Division I Intercollegiate Athletics. He has taken an active role in local historical groups and annually conducts a ceremony at the local Lincoln Cemetery to commemorate the birth of Abraham Lincoln. He is founder of the Lincoln Society of Virginia and serves on the advisory board of the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, as well as the advisory board of the Lincoln Forum. In 1987, he was honored as the National Churchman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America and in 1993 received the Harrisonburg Exchange Club Golden Deeds Award.

(Excerpted from a press release from Bridgewater College, released by Mary K. Heatwole.)

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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