By Jake Huffcutt —
On Friday Sept. 25, Chancellor Bob Meyer gathered with other administrators to cut a commemorative cake celebrating James Huff Stout’s 167th birthday at the Wilson Place Mansion (the former home of James Stout) on North Campus.
“It’s the first year we’ve celebrated his birthday with the cake cutting format,” remarked Melissa Kneeland, the programming director of the Wilson Place Mansion.
James Huff Stout was born and raised in Dubuque, IA in 1850. Over the course of his life, Stout lived in Read’s Landing, Minnesota, Washington D.C. and then settled in Menomonie until his death in 1910.
Stout’s most celebrated accomplishment may be the foundation of our own university in 1891, but his legacy goes beyond that. His commitment to the value of education was proven not just by his creation of the University of Wisconsin–Stout, but also by his establishment of the Menomonie High School and three separate kindergartens (a revolutionary idea in education at the time). He became the manager of his father’s lumber company in 1889, The Knapp-Stout Lumber Company, which at one point was the largest lumber company in the world. Stout also served as a Wisconsin state senator from 1895 to 1910.
Stout’s original idea for our campus was to create a learning environment that focused on providing practical skills to students. Stout acquired this philosophy after being exposed to similar career and technical schools while serving as a lumberyard manager in Missouri.
In regards to Stout’s continued importance to our campus community, Chancellor Meyer said, “He was a visionary. He knew that he had to make students aware of their opportunities and to train them.”
His legacy endures to this day as Stout continues to focus on providing students with technical, hands on skills that they’ll be able to carry over to the workplace. Our campus may look different than when Stout first started it, but there is no question that he would be impressed with its continued commitment to serving the practical and technical needs of its students.