Eau Claire (WQOW) – Over 1,400 UW-Eau Claire students earned their degrees on Saturday, turning their tassels and the page to the next chapter of their lives. These students have achieved something that will prepare them for a lifetime, while one alumnus is being honored for his.
On Saturday afternoon, 1963 UW-Eau Claire graduate John Menard Jr., made university history. Menard is the first person to receive an honorary doctorate for lifetime achievement.
“It’s kind of a culmination of a life’s work and kind of a recognition of what I did had some meaning to the Chippewa Valley, and as I look back on it, I was a kid from a dairy farm, oldest of eight kids and I just stayed here,” said Menard.
You may recognize his name. Menard is the found and owner of Menards, one of the largest chains of home improvement stores in the country. But before Menards went national, the store’s success began right here in the Chippewa Valley.
“John by many measures has been one of the most successful alum’s this University has ever seen,” said Chancellor Jim Schmidt. “He’s been a civic leader, very generous in the community.”
Menard’s roots run deep.
“More than 80 years, a Menard family member has been attending, or teaching, or working at this University, so it’s a great way to kick off our graduation ceremony this afternoon,” said Schmidt.
Menard said he hopes his story of success can shed light on the possibilities that lie here in the Chippewa Valley.
“I hope that it can show that people can stay here in the Chippewa Valley, do well, prosper, enjoy themselves, hopefully improve our community and leave this world a better place then it was,” said Menard.
Menard said he is proud to be a Blugold.
“I don’t think there’s a better school than UW-EC and I’ll always be a Blugold and I don’t think there’s a better place to live than the Chippewa Valley,” said Menard.
Congratulations to all of the students who earned their degrees on Saturday!