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.


  • 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.
  • 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.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 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.
  • 1931 Woodlawn Hall was dedicated as the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 begins 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 men's basketball and baseball teams win Ohio Conference Championships and later NCAA Mid-East Championship.


  • On Sept. 9, 1960, Hanley Hall opens and is named after long-time benefactor Stanley Hanley.
  • Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy visits Wittenberg to speak on ethics while on the campaign trail in 1961. He introduces concepts and ideas that would later form the Peace Corps.
  • The Tiger men's basketball team wins the NCAA College Division championship in 1961 and finishes second in 1963.
  • Synod Hall is 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 is completed in 1963 at a cost of $1.25 million.
  • 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 opens 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.
  • Famed astronaut Neil Armstrong, an Ohio native who was the first man to walk on the moon, visits Wittenberg for the inauguration of Wittenberg's 10th president Dr. G. Kenneth Andeen.


  • 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 is created in 1972.
  • The football team wins the inaugural NCAA Division III Championship in 1973 and repeats the feat in 1975, both following victories in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. The 1973 victory marked the first time a championship was award to an NCAA Division III team.
  • The Tiger men's basketball team wins 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 had been raised.


  • The HPER Center addition was completed in 1982, including a new natatorium, racquetball courts, training room, locker room space and a 3,000-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 at 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 windows on the front-side of the building. The building was dedicated on Parents Weekend 1989.
  • In 1989 all intercollegiate sports joined the North Coast Athletic Conference, which had formed in 1983.
  • On Dec 1, 1989, wittenberg.edu is born as the university registers for its permanent domain on the Internet.


  • Wittenberg receives the prestigious status of Phi Beta Kappa in 1992. At the time, just 270 institutions nationwide held the distinction - by 2018, the total was still just 286 member schools.
  • Construction of a new football field and track began in March 1993. This would mark the end of a grass playing field and the beginning 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 '39 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 is completed and offers 12 regulation tennis courts, including six under lights.  


  • Hollenbeck Hall, named in honor of Jane Hollenbeck '39 in recognition of her generous lead gift, opens at a cost of $13.5 million. The building is dedicated on Friday Jan. 28, 2000.
  • 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. The new residence hall, located on Alumni Way, opens for student living in the fall of 2006.
  • A renovation of the HPER Center is announced on February 9, 2005, along with replacement of the outdoor track and field at a cost of $2 million. The new fitness center is named for Bob Rosencrans '58, former athletics director and coach in several sports.
  • 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, is approved by the Board of Directors in March 2006. The plan, which will provide a road map for excellence, embraces the university's strengths and traditions as it propels the university in bold, new directions.
  • Commencement Hollow receives major upgrades thanks to the generous gift of Lewis Shaw '66. The space is commemorated on May 12, 2007, during the 162nd Commencement ceremony.
  • In 2008, Wittenberg acquires the former Springfield City Board of Education building on East College Avenue.
  • On Feb. 2, 2008, the arena in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center is officially dedicated to the memory of Pam Evans Smith '82, the coach with the most wins and highest winning percentage in North Coast Athletic Conference women's basketball history.
  • On June 11, 2008, four student interns begin a newly created eight-week summer internship program with the city of Springfield.
  • On July 1, 2008, it was announced that alumni couple Lynn Noble '64 and Robert E. Ness '63 established a $1.5 million endowed chair in entrepreneurship.
  • Wittenberg launches the first-of-its-kind alumni relations cross-country tour on July 10, 2008. 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, 2008, with the establishment of the new Center for Civic & Urban Engagement.
  • On Feb. 25, 2009, a new Games Room opened in the Benham-Pence Student Center, officially named Doppelgangers, a German word referring to any double or look-alike of a person.
  • Wittenberg students begin 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, opens in the fall of 2009 in the Benham-Pence Student Center.


  • In 2010, Wittenberg adopts a new energy policy to reduce campus consumption by 20 percent.
  • On Oct. 8, 2011, Wittenberg re-dedicates Blair Hall during a celebration of the restoration of the historic education facility.
  • The Tiger women's volleyball team wins the 2011 NCAA Division III Title on Nov. 20, Wittenberg's first NCAA Championship in 34 years.
  • In 2011, Blair Hall becomes 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, 2011, the university dedicates the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement as it recognizes the philanthropist whose $6 million gift endowed the Center and offered an opportunity to celebrate Wittenberg's core values and mission.
  • On July 1, 2012, Laurie M. Joyner begins her tenure as Wittenberg's 14th president, the first woman to hold the position.
  • Wittenberg appoints Richard "Dick" Helton as its interim president in January 2016 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.
  • The Tiger men's golf team wins its first NCAA Division III Championship in May 2017. The Tiger women's golf team finishes in the top five nationally for the third straight year.
  • The Wittenberg University Board of Directors unanimously selected Michael L. Frandsen, vice president for finance and administration at Oberlin College, as Wittenberg's 15th president. Frandsen began his tenure July 1, 2017.
  • Thanks to an inspiring, leadership-level gift by Wes ’70 and Ann Bates ’70, Wittenberg celebrated the opening of its fully renovated and expanded 265,000-square-foot Health, Wellness & Athletics (HWA) Complex, and its centerpiece, The Steemer, on October 25, 2019, during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. The Grand Opening marked the beginning of a new standard of excellence in NCAA Division III, in community engagement, and in student success.


  • In March 2020, Wittenberg University was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After extensive conversations and additional review of the latest state and federal recommendations, Wittenberg's senior leadership decided to deliver all academic programs through remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. The University returned to in-person instruction in August 2020, albeit with significant public health restrictions. Over the course of the next two years, Wittenberg adapted its health policies and procedures to allow for the continuation of in-person learning and the residential living experience.
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