Gov. Scott Walker presents the UW-Stout proclamation to Chancellor Bob Meyer.

Gov. Scott Walker presents a UW-Stout Day in Wisconsin proclamation to Chancellor Bob Meyer on UW-Stout’s 125th birthday Tuesday, Jan. 5.

The Clock Tower bells on campus rang a celebratory peal at 1:25 p.m. State and university leaders spoke with pride about the university’s past, present and future. A special cake was served, and Jan. 5, 2016, was proclaimed UW-Stout Day in Wisconsin by Gov. Scott Walker.

UW-Stout marked its 125th birthday with a celebration that drew a standing-room-

UW-Stout marked its 125th birthday with a celebration that drew a standing-room-only crowd estimated at 500 people in the ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center.

The school’s founder, James Huff Stout, would have been proud. Speakers paid tribute to his vision for a more perfect form of education, combining hand and mind, along with the legacy — nearly 80,000 graduates — his school has created.

“He’s somebody who, in many ways, was ahead of his time,” Walker said, citing James Stout’s still-relevant mission to develop a skilled workforce to meet the needs of a society increasingly dependent on industry and technology.

“People who have an education that is relevant to the careers out there — that’s what James Huff Stout was talking about 125 years ago,” Walker said.

UW System President Ray Cross concurred. He cited UW-Stout’s strengths in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and in art and design, the latter in which UW-Stout has the largest program in the UW System. “You have made a commitment to the arts, which makes STEM meaningful,” Cross said.

“How to do things differently seems to be part of your DNA. Please, don’t lose that. It’s so important today,” Cross told the many faculty and staff in attendance.

State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf said universities such as UW-Stout provide opportunities for students while addressing the needs of regional and state employers, benefiting everyone.

UW System President Ray Cross speaks at the celebration at the Memorial Student Center.

UW System President Ray Cross speaks at the celebration at the Memorial Student Center.

“Through education, we can better ourselves, and those opportunities wouldn’t exist without institutions like this. Congratulations on behalf of all state legislators: We appreciate what you do,” she said.

Other state legislators, all from west-central Wisconsin, in attendance were Tom Larson, Terry Moulton, John Murtha and Warren Petryk. Also attending was Mark Tyler, a member of the UW System Board of Regents.

Mark Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, said UW-Stout’s historic mission for education was three-fold: academic, technical and professional. “We still have that same three-fold approach to education. That’s how perfect James Huff Stout’s vision was,” he said.

Chancellor Bob Meyer, the master of ceremonies, said UW-Stout takes its history seriously. “And why wouldn’t we?  We have a rich history that we can be proud of and a tradition established by our founder that we are duty bound to continue to build upon,” he said.

Meyer said he was excited to kick off a year of celebrations, which will include the September grand reopening of historic Harvey Hall. “We get to look back at what made UW-Stout the modern university that it is today and dream a little about where we want to go,” he said.

Meyer was presented with the UW-Stout Day in Wisconsin proclamation by Walker at the end of the ceremony. It said in part: “UW-Stout has been transformed into a modern university with innovative undergraduate and graduate programs, but it has remained true to the original mission set forth by James Huff Stout of ‘learning through involvement.’ ”

UW-Stout opened Jan. 5, 1891, as the privately funded Stout Manual Training School. It was part of the Menomonie public school system, offering manual training to boys and domestic science training to girls during their school day.

The school’s first building, two rooms and two stories, stood near the southeast corner of Main and Broadway streets in downtown Menomonie, site of the present Administration Building.

James Stout, born in Dubuque, Iowa, moved to Menomonie in 1889. He was an executive with the Knapp, Stout lumber company in Menomonie as well as a state senator and member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. He died in 1910, and Stout Institute was taken over by the state in 1911.