History of Stout's Alma Mater
School songs are a long-held tradition at colleges and universities and are often performed at ceremonies and special events.
By 1923, Stout was more than 30 years old, yet had no official school song. The Stoutonia initiated a school song contest and the winners received a $5 dollar reward. The resulting song, composed by a group of four students, became the school’s early fight song.
Four years later, freshmen Lillian Hylland and Jane Hambley (l to r) decided to create a more solemn and majestic piece appropriate for formal school ceremonies. Hylland, a Menomonie native, was a noted organist who accompanied many local musical groups. Hambley hailed from Ramsay, Mich., and was known for both her strong contralto voice and leadership in campus organizations.
Together they composed “Alma Mater,” which painted a nostalgic picture of the Stout campus and has become the school’s official song for commencements and other special events:
“On the banks of Lake Menomin
Stands our alma mater true
With tower high and brilliant “S”
For her we’ll dare and do
We’ll sing her praises many
We’ll glorify her name.
And on throughout the years of time
Our love for Stout proclaim.”
The brilliant “S” described in the song lyrics now stands on the northern face of Bowman Hall’s clock tower. However, it’s a replacement for the missing original. The letter “S” that hung from the Bowman tower from the 1910s until the 1960s was illuminated by a border of small light fixtures. In early 1969, three student pranksters removed the “S” and tossed it in the Red Cedar River. The tower stood without its “S” for nearly 35 years, until an alumni group collaborated to commission a replacement in 2004.
The current 10-foot-by-6-foot aluminum “S” is based on a design from the 1913 Stout Annual yearbook. Hugh Moltzau, a 1936 Stout alumnus summarized his commitment to replacing the “S”: “Singing the Stout ‘Alma Mater’ without the brilliant ‘S’ is like singing the National Anthem without the flag.” Now, thanks to the efforts of Moltzau and many other alumni, the “Alma Mater” again rings true.
The “Alma Mater” will be sung at the close of each of Saturday’s commencement ceremonies just prior to the recessional.