Samuel Ginn College of Engineering alumnus
Chair of the Auburn University Foundation
Jeff Stone graduated from Auburn in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and currently serves as the chair of the Auburn University Foundation. During his time at Auburn, Stone was elected engineering senator in 1977 and president of the Student Government Association in 1978. Upon graduation from Auburn, Stone began his career with Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the Southeast's leading contracting and construction management firms. He currently serves as the company's chief operating officer and oversees operations for more than $2 billion in annual construction revenues, 30 operating divisions and projects in 19 states. In February, Stone was honored for his significant contributions to the advancement of engineering and technology with induction in the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. He was named the Civil Engineering Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2005 and received the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award in 2012. Stone is a member of Auburn's 1856 Society, the Petrie Society, the Engineering Keystone Society and the Engineering Campaign Leadership Team, and he is former chairman of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. He is married to Dr. Linda Johnson Stone '79, a Birmingham-area pediatrician, and they have three children.
1. You were serving as SGA president when the Aubie program was established in 1979, which means Aubie turned 35 this year. Did you believe at the time that Aubie would become the icon he is today and that he would become so beloved by the Auburn family?
During my 1978-79 term with the Student Government Association, James Lloyd served as the spirit director. James had the idea that Auburn needed a mascot to entertain the Auburn family during sporting events and suggested that Phil Neel's beloved Aubie cartoon character serve as the basis for the mascot. We took on the project of bringing Aubie to life, but the cost of developing the costume was more than we could manage with a limited SGA budget. With funding help from the Auburn Alumni Association, we were successful in engaging Brooks-Van Horn Costumes in New York to create the original Aubie costume. Although the original costume was a little primitive compared to today's version, James donned the costume and Aubie made his first appearance at the 1979 SEC basketball tournament in Birmingham during Auburn's opening game victory against Vanderbilt. As they say, the rest is history.
Certainly we hoped that Aubie the mascot would add some interest and entertainment to Auburn events, but no one could have anticipated how important he would become in the Auburn experience throughout the past 35 years. Aubie truly is beloved by everyone in the Auburn family and it gives me a great sense of pride to have Aubie as part of the legacy of our SGA administration.
2. You were recently inducted into the State of Alabama's Engineering Hall of Fame. What are some of the ways in which Auburn prepared you for your long-standing career at Brasfield & Gorrie?
It was a great honor to be inducted in to the Hall of Fame and to be recognized by my peers within the engineering profession. I have been fortunate to be associated with a great company in Brasfield & Gorrie and with multiple engineering organizations on the Auburn campus. The Hall of Fame recognition is as much a tribute to those fine organizations as it is for me personally.
Without question, my Auburn experience was instrumental in preparing me for my career. As a nationally recognized engineering program, Auburn provided me with a quality engineering education and helped me to hone my problem solving skills. In addition to the academic preparation, Auburn provided me with opportunities to learn and practice leadership skills through involvement with student government and other campus organizations. Also, both my time as a student and an alumnus have offered the opportunity to develop lifelong social and professional relationships with great Auburn people. All of these campus experiences have served me well in my 35-year career at Brasfield & Gorrie.
3. Why do you think giving back to Auburn is so important and how have you seen philanthropy change as you've been involved with the foundation?
Private philanthropy at Auburn is critical to support the mission of the university. Many people outside of campus do not realize that state support has been steadily declining and today represents only a fraction of the funding necessary to operate the university. Tuition increases have compensated for some of the loss in state support, but still fall significantly short of fully meeting funding requirements. Private support from our many generous donors has helped by filling some of the void left by declining state support while at the same time providing much needed funding for student scholarships, graduate fellowships, professorships, facilities and other critical program support.
The good news is that our base of donors continues to steadily grow as alumni and friends of the university become increasingly aware of the impact that private gifts can have on the university. A great example of this is the impact that the increasing number of student scholarships has made on the quality of the students being attracted to Auburn as measured by increasing freshman ACT scores.
4. You've given to Auburn every year since you graduated. What have you gained through investing your time as well as your financial resources in Auburn's future?
Like so many before and after me, I have an enduring love and respect for Auburn University and the entire Auburn experience. The Auburn spirit is real and it is contagious. Auburn is woven into the very fabric of my family. For three generations, every member of my family and my wife Linda's family have attended Auburn (and API). We owe so much to Auburn for the quality of education we received and for the rich life experiences that we continue to enjoy being a part of the Auburn family. Because we want others to share in those same experiences, we feel it is important to support Auburn with our time and financial resources. Personally, I gain great satisfaction in seeing Auburn improve the lives of our students, our state, the nation and the world and knowing that perhaps somehow I have contributed to that effort, even if in a small way.
5. People envision engineers as always tinkering with something. Do you have a tinkering kind of hobby, or is there something else that occupies your free time?
This is going to sound a little over the top, but at the moment, serving Auburn is really my main hobby and consumes a significant part of my time outside my career. Beyond that I don't have a specific tinkering hobby, but I must admit that my family considers to me to be somewhat of a handyman, and consequently, they do not hesitate to present me with maintenance challenges at home and around our house at Lake Martin. My dad, who also is an Auburn engineering graduate, had a knack for constructing or repairing most anything and apparently passed that gene along to me. A couple of years ago, my youngest daughter even presented me with a "Mr. Fix-it" T-shirt as that is the nickname that my family calls me when a repair is needed or a gadget requires assembly.