K-State alumni couple supports landscape architecture faculty through bequest
By Hayli Morrison
Mel Stout has a long, successful history in the field of landscape architecture. In 1983, when linear parks and trail systems were uncommon, he directed preparation of the master plan for the 40-Mile Loop around metropolitan Portland, Ore. Today, he remains a founding member of the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust.
“It was quite the project,” Stout said. “Certainly there wasn’t a lot of that kind of a concept being implemented.”
Since retiring three years ago as senior landscape architect from Portland-based Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc., Stout has remained an active consultant in the industry. Projects like the 40-Mile Loop are a testament to his career-long priority of presenting practical solutions with strong aesthetic appeal and environmental sensitivity. And it all started at Kansas State University in 1964, when Stout entered the landscape architecture program alongside a fresh-faced group of enthusiastic new professors.
“They taught me how to solve problems while being mindful of the land and environment, and how to design for living in a sensitive way with the environment,” Stout said.
It is little surprise then that Stout and his wife, Marsha — whom he met at a K-State social mixer — decided to support landscape architecture with a faculty fellowship through a bequest in their trust. The Mel and Marsha Stout Faculty Fellowship in Landscape Architecture will support faculty who promote ‘design as evident’ in all aspects of research, teaching and practice.
“I wanted to help maintain the landscape architecture department at K-State, because it’s meant a lot to me over the years,” Mel Stout said. “I also wanted to recognize the faculty I had early in my education. They were really starting their teaching careers when I was starting out with my education, and it was such a special relationship. They had special meaning for me.”
Stout was one of the first graduates of K-State’s accredited landscape architecture program, according to department head Stephanie Rolley. While Stout credits Rolley’s strong leadership for motivating him to make his gift, Rolley is equally complimentary of Stout’s contributions to the department. He has returned annually to Manhattan to serve in a mentoring and advisory capacity, including service on the department’s professional advisory board.
“His type of commitment to the K-State landscape architecture program is an important part of why we are consistently recognized as one of the top programs in the country,” Rolley said. “The Mel and Marsha Stout Faculty Fellowship is central to our future ability to maintain the high quality design instruction that we value and our students’ employers have come to expect.”