“That’s the driving theme behind it,” he said. “The Chickasaws wanted to promote that idea and bring more business students to Ada and ECU. That was my interest, too. Today, the only thing that will save this great country is to have more entrepreneurs out there developing new businesses.”
He said the new school is “state of the art” and will make ECU more attractive to students.
“They’d been working on it quite a while,” Stonecipher said of the concept behind the center. “When they contacted me, I did not have the funds available to make a contribution. I told them it would be a year or so before I was able to do that, but once they started, I am amazed at how quickly the building went up. It’s ready to go.”
Stonecipher emphasized the importance of schools like ECU.
“I think we need smaller schools. I don’t think everyone is suited for OU or OSU or Harvard. Had I not had ECU available — and I lived just down the road from Ada — chances are I would not have gone to college.”
He said making the move from tiny Tupelo High School to ECU was a big step for him.
“ECU was a big school compared to Tupelo.”
‘I wanted to make things happen’
Stonecipher and his family lived a rural life in Tupelo.
“We lived out in the country, and I tell people that the only running water we had was me running to get it,” he said. “It was pretty tough making a living and growing up that way.”
Graduating from ECU in 1960 with a major in education and a minor in English, Stonecipher decided to pursue a teaching career.
“It was all I ever knew or dreamed about. Then I realized there were other things I could do and wanted to do.”