Statement on the passing of Robert Stone

Robert Delmar Stone, former general counsel at the College, was instrumental in the institution’s separation from the Board of Regents in 1998. He passed away on May 1, 2016.
Robert Delmar Stone, former general counsel at the College, was instrumental in Excelsior’s separation from the Board of Regents in 1998. He passed away on May 1, 2016.

Statement by President John Ebersole on the passing of Robert Delmar Stone, former general counsel at the College.

Bob’s knowledge of New York State education law was deeper than anyone in the State – because he wrote so much of it. As Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs in the New York State Education Department, he understood the importance of educational opportunity. Acting as legal counsel to the Board of Regents, he helped found and pioneer the Regents External Degree Program, later renamed Regents College, an institution focused on providing degree pathways to the historically underserved.

As a master of education law with a lawyerly view of the world, he was not in the least legalistic. He reflected carefully on all matters, legal and otherwise, and was always pleased to think things through from multiple perspectives to find the best solution. While a lawyer’s lawyer, as he often was, he was also the best lawyer that those who are not students of the law could have on one’s side.

After he retired from State service, Bob became the College’s legal counsel and was instrumental in the institution’s separation from the Board of Regents in 1998. College leaders involved in those early meetings remember fondly the reverential tone the department’s counsel showed toward Bob – whom they couldn’t help but refer to as “Mr. Stone.”

After the College was granted its independent charter and became known as Excelsior College, Bob remained tremendously supportive. He had been involved with fundraising as a volunteer for the Rotary Foundation and had an understanding of how things worked. He always supported the College himself and was a mainstay at our annual Partners in Lifelong Learning event – which supports students in financial need from the Capital Region and beyond – every year until this one.

Bob’s personal style — or brand, as we now say — was exemplified by always wearing a jacket and bow tie.  He was impeccably dressed and always had a smile on his face.  His courtesy and civility set a standard for those who had the chance to work with him. He was a giant and the world is a lesser place without him.

On behalf of the Excelsior College community and everyone who had the pleasure to know him, we extend our prayers and sympathies to Bob’s family during this difficult time.