Director of College Relations, Macalester, part after 16 years

By Matt Day

Doug Stone, director of College Relations since 1993, left the employ of the college in August under what Vice President for Advancement Tommy Bonner called “a mutual decision.”Bonner wouldn’t comment on the reason for Stone’s departure. He announced it to the campus community Aug. 21 in the Macalester Bulletin.

Stone also wouldn’t comment on specifics. “I enjoyed my time at Mac immensely working with great students, staff and faculty,” he said. “It was a great ride.”

Bonner, who oversees college relations, alumni relations and fundraising, said the role of College Relations is to serve as Macalester’s “chief communications office.” Among other tasks, Stone was responsible for handling media requests and supervising publications produced for the campus community and alumni.

In addition to his work in College Relations, Stone taught journalism classes in the Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies department and was the Mac Weekly’s advisor.

Prior to Macalester, Stone worked as a reporter at the Minneapolis Tribune and later as an editor and news director at WCCO Television. He also spent two years in Washington, D.C. as press secretary to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.

The leadership change follows an external review of College Relations completed in June by a public affairs specialist at Washington University in St. Louis. Bonner said the review didn’t contain any recommendations specific to the director’s position, only that it proposed changes to College Relations.

“The world of communications has changed,” Bonner said. “There’s a lot more noise. We need to be focused with our message.

“We need to establish a better process,”

Bonner said that the college would search nationally for Stone’s replacement, most likely from another liberal arts school or a nonprofit organization. He said it was less likely that the college would select a journalist, unless the candidate came with “a background of institutional strategic thinking.”

“We’re looking for someone who is a strategic communicator,” he said.

Bonner said he hopes to have a new director hired and on campus by Jan. 1.

“The college owes Doug a lot,” Bonner said. “He’s done a lot for Macalester over the years.”

Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies chair Leola Johnson said Stone is slated to teach a journalism course in the spring, “But that could change if Doug finds a job.”

“If you have to have a PR person at a college like Mac, it should be a person like Doug,” she continued. “I think it is a horrible loss.

“He’s done good work in journalism and communications across platforms. He embodied values of service, the kind we say our students should adopt.

“The public service journalism just isn’t valued anymore,” Johnson added.

College Relations Media Relations Manager Barbara Laskin, hired to work with Stone in 2003, said he brought valuable experience across types of media.

“I’ve been in this profession since the early 1980s,” she said. “And I’ve never worked with anyone who understood better the way the media works.from print to television, to radio, and new media.

“He is the best connected person I know in the Twin Cities,” Laskin said.

“Doug was just a really great colleague,” Johnson said. “He was an institution at Macalester.

“[His loss], on top of losing the World Press Institute, makes it seem like we’re withdrawing from the community.