Wittenberg University
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Wittenberg University
Wittenberg University
Witt seal.png
Motto"Having Light, We Pass It On To Others"
Established1845; 176 years ago (1845)
Religious affiliation
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Endowment$110.96 million (2018)[1]
PresidentMichael L. Frandsen
ProvostMichelle Mattson
Academic staff
121 full-time[2]
Undergraduatesabout 1,400[3]
Location, ,
United States
CampusSmall city, 114 acres (46 ha)
ColorsRed and white    
AthleticsNCAA Division III -- NCAC
MascotEzry the Tiger

Wittenberg University is a private liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio. It has approximately 1,400 full-time students representing 37 states and 30 foreign countries. The university is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Wittenberg College was founded in 1845 by a group of ministers in the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Ohio, which had previously separated from the recently established German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States.

A German American pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Rev. Ezra Keller was the principal founder and first president of the college. Its initial focus was to train clergy with the Hamma School of Divinity as its theological department. One of its main missions was to "Americanize" Lutherans by teaching courses in the English language instead of German, unlike the nearby Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

The first class originally consisted of eight students at the beginning of the academic year, but grew to seventy-one by the end. With a faculty of one professor and two tutors, classes were held in Springfield, Ohio, in a church on land that was donated. That city was selected for its location on the National Road, running from the eastern cities of Baltimore and Cumberland, Maryland, to the west in the Illinois Country, eventually to the territorial capital of Vandalia, near the Mississippi River.

In 1874, women were admitted to the college, and, the following year, blacks were admitted. The name of the school came from the historic University of Wittenberg in Wittenberg, Germany, the town in which Martin Luther famously posted his Ninety-five Theses on the church door on October 31, 1517.[4] In 1993 the university and the German city entered into an official partnership.

Hamma Divinity School

Luther Alexander Gotwald, Professor of Theology in the Hamma Divinity School that served as the theological department of the college, was famously tried for and unanimously acquitted of heresy by the Board of Directors at Wittenberg on April 4-5, 1893. The trial concerned many key issues that Evangelical Lutherans still debate today.[5]

For decades, Hamma and Wittenberg in Springfield were associated with the local English-speaking regional Lutheran synods in the Midwest.

In 1978, Hamma Divinity School merged with the nearby Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary (associated with Capital University) in the Bexley suburb of Columbus, Ohio, to form Trinity Lutheran Seminary.


  • Ezra Keller (1844-1848)
  • Samuel Sprecher[6] (1849-1874)
  • John B. Helwig (1874-1882)
  • Samuel Alfred Ort (1882-1900)
  • John M. Ruthrauff (1900-1902)
  • Charles G. Heckert (1903-1920)
  • Rees Edgar Tulloss (1920-1949)
  • Clarence Charles Stoughton (1949-1963)
  • John Nissley Stauffer (1963-1968)
  • G. Kenneth Andeen (1969-1974)
  • William A. Kinnison (1974-1995)
  • Baird Tipson (1995-2004)
  • William H. Steinbrink (Interim President)
  • Mark H. Erickson (2005-2012)
  • Laurie M. Joyner (2012-2015)
  • Richard "Dick" Helton (2016-2017) (Interim President)
  • Michael Frandsen (2017-present)[7]


Main entrance to the University

Wittenberg offers more than 70 majors and special programs. Eight pre-professional programs are offered to students, 70 percent of whom eventually pursue graduate studies. The University's science facilities are housed in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center. Krieg Hall is the home of the music department.[8] Wittenberg's art department is housed in Koch Hall.[9] Thomas Library contains 400,000 volumes and provides access to OhioLINK,[10] a consortium of Ohio college and university libraries as well as the State Library of Ohio. The library houses the Kemper Special Collection Area which contains the Luther-Reformation Collection with more than 400 items written by Martin Luther and his contemporaries between 1517 and 1580.[11] The library was built 1956 to the designs of Thomas Norman Mansell of Mansell, Lewis & Fugate of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.[12]

In 1995, the American Philosophical Association censured Wittenberg University for violating the professional rights of one its members, then a faculty member in the philosophy department denied tenure for unjust reasons. In that instance, the Wittenberg administration overruled the faculty personnel board's authority and asserted its right to deny tenure for reasons beyond teaching, research, and service. The current administration makes no such assertion.[13]

Rankings and honors

Wittenberg University's Guest House

In 2012, the magazine U.S. News & World Report ranked Wittenberg as the 121st best Liberal Arts college in the US,[16] and Forbes Magazine ranked the school as the 176th best university in the country.[17]

Study abroad

The Office of International Education, located in Hollenbeck Hall, provides assistance to international students and helps students find appropriate study abroad programs across the globe. The office also administers two popular semester long programs: the Wittenberg semester in Wittenberg, Germany, which includes an internship, and the Wittenberg semester in Costa Rica, which also allows students to complete a service requirement. Each semester program also provides instruction leading to the completion of the language requirement. Wittenberg also frequently offers summer study abroad programs led by Wittenberg faculty. Most recently students have studied on Wittenberg summer programs in Germany, Japan, and Poland.


Blair Hall

Blair Hall is where the education department is housed for the university. Undergraduates and Graduate students take classes in this building if they are planning to become a teacher. The Springfield-Wittenberg Teacher Institute and Upward Bound are both housed in Blair. Upward Bound is a high school program for students in low-income areas of the city to receive a high level education from college professors while in high school.

The education department occupies a second building at 49 East College Avenue that formerly contained the administration offices of the Springfield Public City Schools, but is now owned by Wittenberg University.[18]

Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall of Science and Recitation Hall (1911 Postcard)

The athletic department in currently housed in Carnegie Hall. This hall was once home to many prestigious professors and is named for the famous Scottish-American immigrant and steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie, (1835-1919), who was known for his philanthropy and endowment of many public library buildings across the country.

Hollenbeck Hall

Hollenbeck Hall is home to multiple departments, including the History, English, Foreign Languages, Political Science, International Studies, and Philosophy departments. The building is sectioned off into six wings, two per floor, which are separated by the Ness Family Auditorium in the center of the building. It is also the home of the Writing Center and Foreign Language Learning Center, two of the most often used and predominately student-run organizations. The Office of International Education is also located in Hollenbeck.

Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center

The Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center houses ten different academic departments in the fields of mathematics and the natural sciences. It also serves as a popular breakfast and lunch location for students, as it includes a vendor on the first floor that can be used with the Wittenberg meal plans.[19]

Recitation Hall

Recitation Hall is where many of the administrative offices for the University are housed. These offices include those for admissions, financial aid, the president's office, provost's, student employment, university communications (Wittenberg's Media office for "Wittenberg Magazine", Press office, New Media, Sports Media, and Publications office), and human resources. Recitation Hall also has its own chapel. This was the second building constructed on campus. In 1883, classes were first held in Recitation Hall. There is a second building behind Recitation Hall which serves as the university's police and security headquarters, the campus switchboard and the transportation office.[20]

Synod Hall

Synod Hall is home to the Department of Sociology and Information Technologies (IT).

Zimmerman Hall

Zimmerman Hall is home to the Department of Psychology.

Shouvlin Center

Shouvlin Center houses the Department of Nursing, as well as the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Womyn's Center, Counseling Services, and Medical Services.

Thomas Library

Thomas Library is Wittenberg's main library. The building holds over 500,000 books and resources available to all students. Wittenberg is also a member of OhioLINK.

The Steemer

Wittenberg Track and Field runners practice in front of the Steemer Indoor Fieldhouse on Nov 8, 2018. (Trent Sprague/Wittenberg University)
Wittenberg Track and Field runners practice in front of The Steemer Indoor Fieldhouse on Nov 8, 2018.

In April 2017, Wittenberg University broke ground on the development of a forty million dollar health, wellness, and athletics facility to supplement the already existing Health Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center. This project will include the renovation of the University's 1929 Field House, 1982 HPER Center, and include a new indoor practice field, classrooms, and locker rooms. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.[21] In September 2018, it was announced the new facility would be named "The Steemer", after the company Stanley Steemer, whose CEO, Wes Bates, is a graduate of Wittenberg and a major financial sponsor of the project.[22]


Wittenberg University teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Tigers are a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball. The school's newest varsity sport for men, volleyball, was added in the 2015-16 school year (2016 season); that team began play in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League (MCVL),[23] left after the 2018 season for single-sport membership in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, and returned to the MCVL after the 2020 season.[24] The newest women's varsity sport, water polo, was added to the 2018-19 school year. That team plays in the Division III varsity division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association.[25]

In 2017 the men's golf team won the Division III National Championship.

In 2017 the women's volleyball team competed in the NCAA Division III National Championship and lost, being the NCAA Division III "runner-up."[26]

Wittenberg ended the 2009 fall sports season ranked 16th among more than 430 NCAA Division III schools in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings, administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)[27]

Student organizations

The university has over 100 active, registered student organizations.[28]

Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement

On September 24, 2008, Wittenberg opened the Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement. Its purpose is to help coordinate community service projects. Their mission is to help build partnerships between the University and city, state and federal governments. Edward Hasecke, professor of political science, is the faculty director.[29]

Womyn's Center

The University has a Womyn's Center located in Shouvlin Center. The Womyn's Center houses the Peer Advocate program since 2016. The Peer Advocate program provides advocacy services for survivors of power-based violence (regardless of gender identity). The Womyn's Center also houses Tiger Health Educators, a peer-to-peer education program that offers training and resources regarding sexual health and consent.

Springfield Peace Center

The Springfield Peace Center is a non-profit organization located on Wittenberg University's campus. Its goal is educating for peace and teaching alternatives to violence. It holds classes for adults and youth students and hold camps throughout the year.[30]

William C. McClain Center for Diversity

The William C. McClain Center for Diversity is located on Alumni Way and is named after the first African American to graduate from Wittenberg University in 1934. Wittenberg also has several multicultural student programs that are supported by the diversity center including Shades of Pearl, Concerned Black Students, the Gender and Sexuality Diversity Alliance, and the American International Association.

Radio station

The University has its own student run 24-hour radio station, WUSO, on 89.1 FM.[31] WUSO has started simulcasting the Dayton classical station WDPR Monday through Friday mornings from 6 am until 10 am. The station broadcasts news, politics, sports, food, and music shows. The Tiger Sports Network broadcasts the sports programming.[32] The station's studios are located in the basement of Firestine Hall on Woodlawn Ave. The radio station broadcasts throughout the Springfield area. The radio station went through an upgrade on their website to allow audio streaming.

The launch of a new media program called the Integrated Media Corps has recently developed. A team of ten university students creates and produces news videos, sports highlight videos for Dayton, Ohio, television stations WDTN, WHIO, and WKEF and for the university website. The team also records news stories for WUSO and writes press releases for the university website. The program also has begun broadcasting sports programs on WIZE-AM in Springfield.

Online radio

Wittenberg University has recently launched a new radio station for athletics broadcasting. The radio station currently is internet only. To listen to Wittenberg's athletic radio programming visit the Tiger Sports Network website.

The Wittenberg Torch

The Torch is Wittenberg University's student run newspaper, published every Wednesday. The newspaper has a staff of news reporters, editors, features writers, sports writers, designers and photographers. The paper was founded in 1873 and celebrated its 100th volume in 2012. In 2012, The Torch also won an ACP Online Pacemaker Award.[33]

Medical facilities

The Wittenberg Health and Counseling services office is located in the second level of Shouvlin Center. Athletic-related services are also available at the Excel Medicine Sports' office located in the Health, Physical, Education and Recreation building located on Bill Edwards Drive.

Residence life

Myers Hall, built in 1846, was the first building at Wittenberg.

Wittenberg has seven residence halls on campus, including: Tower Hall, Myers Hall, Firestine Hall, Ferncliff Hall, Woodlawn Hall, New Residence Hall, and Polis House. The oldest residence hall is Myers Hall, which was the first campus building when the university opened. Myers Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 30, 1975. It now houses the University Honors Program. The newest residence hall, New Hall, opened in 2006. The Polis House was formerly the international residence hall on campus. Students who are at junior or senior standing have the option to live in the university-provided on-campus apartments or off campus in apartments or university rental houses.[34]

The Benham-Pence Student Center houses most of the university's dining services. The main floor of the student center houses Post 95 which offers four different options, including Champ City Grill, Ward & Wood Subs, The Pour, and Ezra's (serving prepared to order stirfry). "Founders Pub", the university pub is located in the basement of the student center and was opened in during the 2009/2010 school year. The Campus Dining Room (also known as the "CDR" by students) is located on the second floor of the Student Center along with the faculty dining room. Breakfast and lunch are also served in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center's "Simply To Go" a la carte cafe also serving breakfast and light lunches during weekdays.[35]

Greek life

Wittenberg has an active Greek Life community with 11 fraternities or sororities currently chartered on campus.[36]

Fraternities include:

Sororities include:

Notable alumni


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External links

Coordinates: 39°55?59?N 83°48?51?W / 39.93314°N 83.81415°W / 39.93314; -83.81415

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