Sesquicentennial Series: UK's First Dean of Women Gets Physical
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 8, 2013) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 47th of 150 weekly installments remembers Florence Offutt Stout, the first dean of women at the university.
Florence Offutt Stout was the daughter of Ben and Florence Graham Offutt of Jefferson County. Since her mother died at birth, she and her three older brothers were raised by their maternal grandmother, Mrs. Hyman Graham. Upon Graham's death, the children went to live with their aunt, Mrs. Maurice Satterwhite. Stout was a descendant of the Reverend James Moore, former president of Transylvania University, and a cousin of Henry Stites Barker, former president of UK in whose home she spent much time.
Stout graduated from the Louisville Girls High School and from the New Haven, Connecticut Normal School of Gymnastics where she studied under Jakob Bolin, an advocate of the Swedish system of gymnastics. In addition, she studied at Chicago University. Following her graduation from New Haven, she came to Lexington and lived with her relatives, Colonel and Mrs. James E. Pepper at Meadowthorpe, a well-known Fayette County stock farm.
Elected the first physical director of women at UK, Stout began her duties Jan. 1, 1902, in the then-new gymnasium now known as Barker Hall. On Dec. 23, 1903, she married Judge Robert Lee Stout of Woodford County but continued her work in physical education at the university commuting from her home even when they moved to Frankfort. When they moved to Lexington, she walked to the campus from her home on Preston Avenue.
Stout was elected the first dean of women at the meeting of the Board of Trustees in June 1908 but resigned two years later for, she said, "Believing as I do that the position of dean of women somewhat impairs the distinctive quality of my specialty, demonstrated by the fact that I am now introduced...as dean of women, rather than as physical director of women, I hereby tender my resignation." She was particularly interested in medical gymnastics and the relation of posture and mental health to physical well-being.
The first Kentuckian to become a member of the National Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Stout organized a state chapter of which she served as president for several years. In 1944, she was given a special assignment and relieved of active teaching duties. Stout went on to serve as director of medical gymnastics for posture defects for the Appalachian School of Nursing.
Stout retired as a professor in 1946. In May of 1953, she was given the award for meritorious service in the field of health, physical education and recreation by the Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Stout died June 12, 1958, after a long illness.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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