Discovering the Wittenberg Identity After 175 Years

Amidst a year of ups and downs, and significant structural changes to Wittenberg’s atmosphere, the university celebrated its 175th anniversary, a testament to its staying power.

Wittenberg University was founded in the Fall of 1845 and was named after the city of Wittenberg, Germany. The first building on campus is the very iconic Myers Hall! Anyone can see Myers on any Wittenberg merchandise and books.

2020 does not seem to be the year to celebrate things. It feels very odd: everything is online via Teams, Zoom or FaceTime. It seems like most students are not even aware that the anniversary of our school occurred at all.

Compared to neighboring schools like the University of Dayton and the Ohio State University, Wittenberg is a small Ohio school. Since we are so small, it could bring our school community even closer by celebrating our history. Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve uncovered about our shared Wittenberg story.

Famous Visitors

There have been some special guests who have visited the university in its 175 years. On May 25, 1918, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the campus. On Oct. 17, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy stopped at Wittenberg while on the campaign trail, and introduced an idea that would later become the Peace Corps.

Another special contributor to the Wittenberg experience was Andrew Carnegie, who sponsored a building on campus known as Carnegie Hall, which was originally used as a science building. Although the science facilities on campus have since moved to the Barbra Deer Kuss Science Center, Carnegie Hall still stands.

Strange Traditions

If you are an undergraduate student at Wittenberg, you know you cannot step on the campus seal. During graduation day people who graduate that day can “stomp the seal,” making it a special time. Whenever you are walking close to the seal, make sure you go around it: if you step on it, you will fail a test.

The students at Wittenberg are known for making a “W” shape with their hands. During different sports games, the students all have different sayings and different songs to sing. Another well-known thing at Wittenberg is that dreaded one big hill.

The feet-aching, heart-pounding big hill starts at the bottom by the fountain and ends at Hollenbeck Hall. If you are a passerby in a car, you can see students constantly walking up the hill, red-faced and out of breath.

Dedicated Students

When World War II started in 1941, nearly 1,000 Wittenberg students put their lives and their studies on hold to serve in the armed forces. 65 never made it home.

When you were a first-year student at Wittenberg, you had to sign an honor code in Weaver Chapel (or online, this year), pledging that you would not commit plagiarism. The first honor code, which holds Wittenberg students to a high standard of academic integrity, was signed and established in 1956.

No matter if you are a wide-eyed first-year student just trying to figure out your first year of school or if you are a senior being pushed out into the wide world, Wittenberg is always there to help. Here’s to 175 years, and 175 more.

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