Feb. 15, 2022
Reading time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Michael and Andrea Stone have witnessed firsthand the impact that philanthropic giving can make in the lives of students. As longtime supporters and friends of the University of West Georgia, they are known for their commitment to creativity and innovation by enhancing the overall student experience. 

Michael and Andrea Stone
Michael and Andrea Stone

Yesterday, community members gathered at Roy Richards Sr. Hall, new home to UWG’s Richards College of Business, to celebrate the couple’s most recent endeavor: naming the Michael and Andrea Stone Student Innovation Lounge.

Michael recalled the moment he and Andrea saw the lounge during a tour of Richards Hall at the new building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony last October.

“We realized it was an opportunity for us to become more involved with the business school students in a unique fashion,” he said. “It felt like a perfect fit for us based on our collective backgrounds.”

Designed as a space to foster student creativity and innovation, the naming will activate an environment where students congregate to focus, vision, plan, create dialogue, build relationships and engage with the community. 

“As part of our institutional strategic plan, we focus on fostering a sense of belonging and connectedness for all stakeholders, particularly our students,” said Dr. Meredith Brunen, vice president of University Advancement, during her remarks. “This unique, hospitable space aligns well with that priority, enabling students to build relationships and engage with each other in a stylish, comfortable lounge.”

Dr. Meredith Brunen
Dr. Meredith Brunen

Andrea graduated from then-West Georgia College in 1978 with a degree in fine arts and taught elementary school for 25 years. Michael – who received honorary alumnus status from UWG in 2017 – has worked in the financial services industry for more than 50 years and is the CEO and founder of Milestone Investment Management.

“At Milestone, we have a strong culture of innovation and independence, which, combined with our deep understanding of the community we serve, enables us to bring great ideas to life,” he continued.

One such example would be the Michael and Andrea Stone Visiting Artist Series, founded in 2014 and has since hosted critically acclaimed artists and published novelists and poets. In 2018, the couple committed to a five-year sponsorship of the UWG Marching Band, providing scholarship incentives to retain upper-level band members.

They also have co-sponsored the UWG School of the Arts’ the Other Night School and the Richards College’s annual Economic Forecast Breakfast.

“We are in the midst of elevating and advancing UWG to ensure we meet the needs of students, industry and the communities we serve in ways that make sense in the 21st century,” Brunen said. “It would not be possible for us to advance the university as rapidly and intentionally without support from alumni and friends like the Stones.”

Dr. Christopher Johnson
Dr. Christopher Johnson

Dr. Christopher Johnson, dean of the Richards College of Business, said such support is critical to advancing the business college’s mission to equip students with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to succeed in life.

“The enhanced programming supported by the Stones’ generous gift will further activate Richards Hall to be a hub for students and the business community that promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and cross-discipline collaboration,” he said.

The new opportunity, according to Michael, enables him and Andrea to connect with UWG in a bold, new way.

“We understand the value of doing something for a purpose,” he concluded. “There are advantages to committing deeply to our passion and being thoughtful and constantly striving for excellence. We believe there is a bond connecting us to UWG that’s built on collaboration, shared experiences and a shared mission. This is not paying back; this is giving.”

For more information about how you can make an impact by supporting UWG, please visit UWG’s Give West page.

photography by Miranda Daniel