The book is a comprehensive history of Wittenberg from its founding in 1845 until 1920. Kinnison writes in the book's forward that it is an attempt to tie together numerous historical documents and publications throughout the years into the most thorough overview of the university's earliest history ever published.
A description of the book on the back jacket reads: "Half of all the colleges founded before the Civil War did not survive. Wittenberg did. This is the story of a college on the Ohio frontier that sought to Americanize millions of German immigrants and to Americanize the German Lutheran Church. In spite of that, Wittenberg was caught in the anti-foreign prejudice of "Nativists" who feared the influence of immigrants on American institutions. The school prospered after the Civil War as America embraced German culture from classical music to the Christmas tree. The school again faced prejudice in the anti-German furor of World War I. Simultaneously, this is the story of students and faculty coping with the pressures of a nation going from the poverty of the rural frontier to the wealth of an urban-industrial society and how they and Wittenberg changed from 1842-1920."
Wittenberg: An American College is the ninth book credited to Kinnison, who served in a variety of roles at Wittenberg before assuming the presidency in 1974. He started out as an assistant dean of admissions from 1958-65 before working at The Ohio State University while pursuing his doctorate. He returned to Wittenberg as assistant to the president from 1967-70 and then vice president from 1970-74.
Most of the books and articles authored by Kinnison, a native of Springfield and a 1950 graduate of Springfield South High School, have been historical in nature, including Wittenberg in Clark County: 1845-1970; Springfield and Clark County: An Illustrated History; An American Seminary: A History of Hamma School of Theology and Wittenberg: A Concise History.
A 1954 graduate of Wittenberg, Kinnison went on to earn a master's degree in American history from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in higher education administration from Ohio State. Kinnison also studied at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard Business School and the Graduate School for Education at Harvard.
Kinnison has long been an active member of the Springfield community, serving on numerous boards and leadership committees, including ones for the Clark County Historical Society, which established the Heritage Center, the Springfield Arts Council and United Way of Clark and Champaign Counties. He has also served in leadership positions with such influential organizations as the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, the American Association of Colleges, the Southwest Ohio Council for Higher Education, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Lutheran Educational Conference in North America and the Organization of American Historians, among others.
Written By: Ryan Maurer
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