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September 30, 2013

Namesakes - Winfred Leutner and Leutner Commons

Winfred George Leutner was alumnus (Adelbert College class of 1901), faculty member (Classics), dean, and president of Western Reserve University. Born in Cleveland in 1879, he was the grandson of immigrants who fled Germany in 1848 (his father was an infant at the time). He graduated from Central High School and entered Adelbert College in 1897 beginning his lifetime association with Western Reserve University. Leutner received the A.B. in 1901 graduating with honors and Phi Beta Kappa. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1905. He also studied at American Schools of Classical Study in Athens and Rome.

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Winfred G. Leutner

He was an instructor for several years off and on at WRU while he pursued graduate work. He became Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin at WRU in 1909 and never left the university after that point. He became Dean of Adelbert College in 1912 in additional to his teaching. In 1925 he left teaching when he became Dean of University Administration. With President Robert Vinson, and trustee Newton D. Baker, he helped establish Cleveland College (for part-time and night students), serving as acting director of the College until A. Caswell Ellis was hired as its first director.

In December 1933 he became acting president. He was elected president in June of 1934. He was the first alumnus, first and only native Clevelander, and the first non-minister to serve as president of Western Reserve University. During his tenure as president he steered the university through most of the Great Depression, World War II, and the post-war enrollment surge.

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President Leutner blows out candles on the WRU 125th birthday cake, 2/6/1951

President Leutner married Emily Payne Smith in 1910 and had 3 children, Mary, Frederick, and Ruth. He died Christmas Day 1961.

Leutner Commons was part of the Adelbert I dormitory complex, which also included Storrs House, Pierce House, Hitchcock House, and Cutler House. In 1963 Western Reserve University began construction of the dormitories and dining facility. The construction was financed with loans from the Home Finance Agency. The Adelbert Alumni Association conducted a $200,000 fundraising campaign over 3 years to furnish this new complex which was for the use of Adelbert College men. Groundbreaking was held 9/24/1963 with the campaign kickoff dinner on 12/10/1963. The architectural firm Outcault, Guenther, Rode and Bonebrake designed Adelbert I complex.

The dedication for the Adelbert I complex, as well as Mather I (Cutter House, Smith House, Taft House, Taplin House, and Stone Dining Hall) and Mather II (Norton House, Sherman House, Tyler House, Raymond House and Wade Commons) was held at Leutner Commons on Sunday, 3/7/1965.

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Leutner Commons, 1965

Leutner Commons has been in continuous use since then. In 2010 a $7 million renovation to the building was completed. The building was increased by 10,500 square feet allowing occupancy by 1,206 people (an increase of 25%). Architects were Burt-Hill, interior designers were EDG, and the Krill Company oversaw construction. The rededication was held 8/18/2010.

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September 18, 2013

Medicine and Natural History

From July through September Observing the Natural World: The Art and Science of Natural History exhibits artwork, manuscripts and archives, and rare books from Kelvin Smith Library’s Special Collections and University Archives. In preparing the exhibit we realized how much campus and regional initiatives mirrored broader developments in the field of biology. One particularly striking example is how biology was taught in universities. For much of the 19th century, most biology instruction, then called natural history, was done by medical schools.

When the Medical Department of Western Reserve College was established in 1843, Samuel St. John, John Lang Cassels, and Jared Potter Kirtland were three of the earliest faculty.

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left to right: Samuel St. John, John Lang Cassels, and Jared Potter Kirtland

St. John was Professor of Chemistry, Natural History, and Medical Jurisprudence. From 1843 to 1856 he taught courses in botany and zoology, natural history, philosophy of natural history, anatomy, physiology, and conchology.

Cassels was a member of the Medical faculty from 1843-1873 and twice served as Dean, 1843-44 and 1961-73. He taught courses in geology, mineralogy, and botany.

Kirtland served on the Medical faculty from 1843-1863 and also served as Dean, in 1846. While his teaching was not in natural history, but theory and practice of medicine, Kirtland was a famous naturalist. He founded the Cleveland Academy of Natural Science, predecessor of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He participated in the 1837 geological survey of Ohio, producing a report cataloging the state’s mammals, birds reptiles, fishes, and mollusks. His horticultural experiments developed improved varieties of serveral fruits. Dr. Kirtland also served three terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. The papers of this remarkable man are held by the Kelvin Smith Library’s Special Collections and a finding aid is available.

The exhibit, in Kelvin Smith Library’s Special Collections Hatch Reading Room, is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. till 4:30 p.m., through September 27.

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