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Historical Timeline

The following is a condensed timeline of the history of Wittenberg University. Much of the early research should be attributed to Ken Dickerson '51, William Kinnison '54 and Harold Lentz '32.

1845

Feb. 14 Board meets in Springfield, forwards second request for charter to legislature, this time to be named Wittenberg College.

Founded by the Lutheran Church's English Synod of Ohio, the college was incorporated by its Board of Directors as an educational institution that would "Americanize" the growing number of Lutherans coming to the New World.

Feb. 17 Springfield selected as site.

March 11 Legislature grants charter. Wittenberg College is founded, and the first president is Ezra Keller, an 1835 graduate of Gettysburg.

Nov. 3 Classes began in the First Lutheran Church on West High Street in the fall of 1845. There were eight students in the first class, one professor (Sauerweine) and two tutors (Officer and Kirby).

Wittenberg finished its first year with 71 male students.

The college was begun on 17 acres of land located just north of Buck Creek and donated by the cemetery association.

1846

The east wing of Myers Hall opens. At that time Myers Hall was called the College Building.

Dec. 29, 1848 Ezra Keller dies at the age of 35 from typhoid fever.

On Jan. 17, 1849 Samuel Sprecher accepted the presidency and remained president for the following 25 years.

1860

In 1866 Phi Kappa Psi was founded as Wittenberg's first fraternity.

In June of 1869 The Alumni Association was formed.

The first women enrolled on Sept. 4, 1874.

Broadwell Chinn is first black student admitted to Wittenberg in 1875.

Alice M. Geiger became the first woman graduate in 1879.

1880

May 24, 1883 the cornerstone of Recitation Hall was laid and the building was formally dedicated on June 16, 1886.

1889 Dr. Hamma makes a $30,000 gift to Wittenberg for the creation of a new seminary building.

1890

In 1892 Zimmerman Library (now Zimmerman Hall) opened on June 22.

In 1909 Carnegie Science Hall opened through a gift of more than $35,000 from Andrew Carnegie.

1910

1914 Ferncliff Hall opens as an all women's dorm.

In 1915 the Myers family of Ashland gave a $20,000 gift to remodel the original College Building, called Old Wittenberg at that time, and rename it Myers Hall.

Between 1917-1918 more than 400 students served in the armed forces. Nine make the supreme sacrifice.

On May 25, 1918 former President Theodore Roosevelt visits campus.

1920

July 1, 1920 Dr. Rees Edgar Tulloss '06, is named seventh President of Wittenberg and embarks on a $1.5 million campaign.

June 6, 1921 W.L. Blair of Nevada gives an $80,000 gift for the building of a new academic building because he was convinced that " Wittenberg gets more for its dollar than any college in the State of Ohio."

In 1922 WCSO was founded as first college radio station and had a broadcasting power of 1,000 watts.

1923 First athletic stadium completed.

March 11, 1924 was the first celebration of Founder's Day.

Sept. of 1924 first Honors Course Program inaugurated.

Oct. 21, 1927 Koch Hall opens with a gift of $250,000 from Judge and Mrs. John H. Koch of Ohio City.

June 1928 Board of Directors authorize the granting of Bachelor of Science degree.

1929 the Wittenberg Choir formed under the direction of Prof. John Thomas Williams.

1930

1930 Health and Physical Education building opens, now known as the old field house, or the west wing of the HPER Center.

1931 Weaver Observatory opens with $80,000 gift from Mr. And Mrs. Elgar Weaver of Brookville, Ohio.

Sept. 11, 1933 Dr. Benjamin F. Prince, class of 1865, Wittenberg's "Grand Old Man," associated with the college for more than 75 years dies at age 93.

April 28, 1934 William McClain wins national oratorical contest, first African American to gain such an honor.

Field Hockey becomes first officially recognized women's sport in 1935.

1940

Between the years 1941-45 nearly 1,500 Wittenbergers served in the armed forces, and 65 make the supreme sacrifice.

The Tiger becomes official mascot in 1945 when a student, John Norris, drew the first Wittenberg Tiger in an issue of the Torch. The Tiger's name was Ezra, named after Wittenberg's first president.

In 1946 President Tulloss announces the receipt of a $500,000 gift for a new college chapel from Mr. and Mrs. Elgar Weaver.

Nov. 20, 1947 Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Firestine of Findlay made a $250,000 gift. The Board of Directors voted to name a new dormitory for men in their name. This dormitory was located on the north side of Woodlawn Hall, but it has since been razed.

Sept. 1, 1949 Clarence C. Stoughton assumes duties as president following the retirement of Dr. Tulloss after 29 years.

1950

Mrs. Sara Hasty Ignatz becomes the first woman member of the Board of Directors on June 4, 1951.

Leamer Hall is opened on April 14, 1953 as a dormitory for Hamma Divinity School students.

On June 11, 1955 the Wittenberg Guild began a drive to raise $100,000 to convert Zimmerman Library into a classroom building.

The School of Community Education was formed on Nov. 29, 1956.

On Sept. 27, 1956 Weaver Chapel-Thomas Library was dedicated. It cost $1.7 million to build.

The first Honor Code was established in 1956.

Sept. 1, 1957 Wittenberg College becomes Wittenberg University. The college is divided into a four-unit structure consisting of College of the Arts and Sciences, School of Professional Studies, Hamma Divinity School and School of Community Education.

In the winter and spring of 1959 the basketball and baseball teams win Ohio Conference Championships and later MCAA Mid-East Championship.

1960

Sept. 9, 1960 Hanley Hall opens and is named after long-time benefactor Stanley Hanley.

Presidential candidate and Senator John F. Kennedy visits Wittenberg to speak on ethics while on the campaign trail in 1961.

The basketball team won the NCAA College Division championship in 1961.

Synod Hall dedicated April 11, 1961.

The football team reaches great heights. In the years 1962, 1964 and 1969 the Tigers were declared NCAA College Division Champions.

Student Union completed in 1963 at a cost of $1,250,000.

North Hall, now Firestine Hall, was completed in 1963. It housed 220 men and was considered to be completely fire proof. It was the first building to receive air conditioning.

Krieg Hall opens in the fall of 1966.

With a government loan as its foundation, Tower Residence Hall for Men was open in the fall of 1966 at a cost of $1.9 million.

In 1969 Concerned Black Students (CBS) formed and elected Ron Woods '69 as the organization's first president.

African American students presented the university with a list of 13 demands to support racial equality and diversity on campus. When demands were not met on Jan. 14, 1969 the students formed a walk-out that lasted for two days. This was the first in a series of events that were at the center of campus life for the next several years.

Neil Armstrong visits Wittenberg for the inauguration of Wittenberg's 10th president Dr. G. Kenneth Andeen.

1970

During the height of the Vietnam War many students were in the armed services. In the year 1972 there were 64 veterans attending class. Eight Wittenberg students made the supreme sacrifice.

The East Asian Studies Program was created in 1972.

The football team wins the NCAA Division III championship out right in 1973 and 1975 by competing in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. The 1973 victory marked the first time a championship was award to a Division III NCAA team.  

The basketball team won the NCAA Division III championship in 1977.

The administration offices move from Ferncliff Hall to Recitation Hall in 1978 ending the period of "recitation" in the 95-year-old building.

The Campaign for Wittenberg, a $16.7 million capital campaign, was launched in November 1979. When the campaign came to an end in 1982, $20 million was raised.

1980

The HPER Center addition was completed in 1982 to include a new natatorium, racquetball courts, training room, locker room space and a 3,100-seat basketball arena at a cost of $7.1 million.

In 1981 the Thomas Library addition was completed as well as renovations to Weaver Chapel for a cost of $5.5 million.

The Benham-Pence Student Center undergoes a major facelift at a cost of $5 million. The renovations included the addition of the windows on the front-side of the building, which was dedicated on Parents Weekend 1989.

In 1989 all varsity sports joined the North Coast Athletic Conference as an original founding institution.

Dec 1. 1989 wittenberg.edu is born as the university registers for its permanent domain on the Internet.

1990

Wittenberg receives the prestigious status of Phi Beta Kappa in 1992. Currently only 270 institutions nationwide hold this distinction.

Construction of new football field and track began in March 1993. This would mark the end of a grass playing field and the begining of artificial turf.

President William Kinnison '54 retires in June of 1995 after 20 years of leadership.

L. Baird Tipson is inaugurated on Nov. 4, 1995.

The Defining Moments Campaign kicks off in 1998 with the university's most ambitious fundraising goal ever of $70 million. By the time the campaign was complete, the goal was surpassed with a total of more than $75 million being raised.

Keller Hall, built in 1901 and Sprecher Hall built in 1952 are demolished in the spring of 1997 to make room for a new center for the humanities.

Jane Hollenbeck makes a lead gift for a new humanities facility in December of 1997 that would be named Hollenbeck Hall.

In 1997 the Georgiana Albright Tennis Complex was completed and offers 12 regulation tennis courts.  

2000

Hollenbeck Hall opens at a cost of $13.5 million in January of 2001.

Richard Kuss gives lead gift for an addition to the Science Hall in December of 2001.

The Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center is dedicated on Sept. 19, 2003 at a final cost of $23 million.

Baird Tipson leaves Wittenberg 's presidency in June of 2004, and William Steinbrink '64 serves as interim president until June of 2005.

On March 1, 2005 plans are announced for a new residence hall that will cost approximately $9 million and will house 195 students.

A renovation of the HPER Center is announced on February 9, 2005 along with replacement of the track and field for a cost of $2 million. The center is named for Bob Rosencrans '58, former athletic director and football coach.

Dr. Mark H. Erickson is elected the 13th president of the university by the Board of Directors on Feb. 17, 2005 and is introduced to the campus community on Feb. 28.

new hallA new strategic plan, Distinctively Wittenberg: A Vision for Excellence, was approved by the Board of Directors in March 2006. The plan, which will provide a roadmap for excellence, embraces the university’s strengths and traditions as it propels the university in bold, new directions.

A new residence hall, located on Alumni Way, opened for student living in the fall of 2006.

Commencement Hollow received major upgrades from the generous gift of Lewis Shaw '66 and was commemorated on May 12, 2007 during the 162nd Commencement.

In 2008, Wittenberg acquired the former Springfield City Board of Education building on East College Avenue.

On Feb. 2 the arena in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center was officially dedicated to the memory of Pam Evans Smith, class of 1982. Smith enjoyed the most wins and highest winning percentage in North Coast Athletic Conference women's basketball history.

On June 11 four student interns began a newly created eight-week summer internship program with the city of Springfield.

On July 1, it was announced that alumni couple Lynn Noble '64 and Robert E. Ness '63 established a $1.5 million endowed chair in entrepreneurship.

Wittenberg launched the first-of-its-kind alumni relations cross-country tour on July 10. The 22-day, 17-city Witt Nation Tour covered more than 7,000 miles to connect with as many of the university’s 26,000-plus living alumni as possible.

A university-community collaboration was announced on Sept. 24 with the establishment of Wittenberg's first-ever Center for Civic & Urban Engagement.

On Feb. 25, 2009 a new Games Room opened in the Benham-Pence Student Center, officially named Doppelgängers, a German word referring to any double or look-alike of a person.

Wittenberg students began training dogs in the 4Paws program preparing dogs for service to others.

For the fourth year in a row, Wittenberg was named one of only 23 institutions in the nation by the Fiske Guide to Colleges for "Small Colleges and Universities Strong in Drama." The elite ranking places Wittenberg alongside such schools as Julliard, Vassar, Oberlin, Otterbein and Princeton.

Founders, Wittenberg’s premiere gathering space, performance venue and pub opened in the fall of 2009 in the Benham-Pence Student Center. 

2010

In 2010 Wittenberg acquired the Springfield Museum of Art building and renamed it The Springfield Center for the Arts at Wittenberg University.

In 2010 Wittenberg adopted a new energy policy to reduce campus consumption by 20 percent.

On Oct. 8 Wittenberg rededicated Blair Hall during a celebration of the restoration of the historic education facility.

2011

Tiger women's volleyball won the 2011 NCAA Division III Title on Nov. 20, Wittenberg's first NCAA Championship in 34 years.

In 2011, Blair Hall became Clark County’s first LEED Certified Building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an internationally recognized green building certification system.

On Oct. 28 the university dedicated the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement as it recognized the philanthropist whose $6 million gift endowed the Center and offered an opportunity to celebrate Wittenberg's core values and mission.

2012

On July 1, 2012 Laurie M. Joyner began her tenure as Wittenberg’s 14th and first woman president.

2013

Wes '70 and Ann Sammel Bates commit to fund half the cost of a new Health, Wellness and Athletics complex -- the largest gift in Wittenberg history and one that will redefine Div. III athletics.

2016

Wittenberg appoints Richard "Dick" Helton as its interim president and launches a comprehensive strategic planning process, resulting in Renewing the Promise: Wittenberg 2022. Record enrollment and fundraising are achieved, as the university begins its search for its 15th president.

2017

The Wittenberg University Board of Directors unanimously selects Michael Frandsen, vice president for finance and administration at Oberlin College, as Wittenberg’s 15th president. Frandsen will begin his tenure July 1, 2017. 

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