Dr. Richard E. Schade, Professor of German Studies at the University of Cincinnati and the Honorary Consul of Germany, was recently examining Cincinnati German newspapers in our German Americana Collection when he came across the item below. Businessman Charles McMicken, who died of pneumonia on March 30, 1858 in Cincinnati, bequeathed to the city the means to found a university. After a delay due to the Civil War and to several litigations, the University of Cincinnati was founded in 1870 when the McMicken gift was combined with other funds garnered by the city for educational purposes. McMicken is generally considered as the founder of UC, and thus integral to our institutional history.
The translation below is kindly provided by Professor Schade, who also pointed out the reference to Philadelphia’s Girard College. McMicken’s will mentioned other conditions, such as stipulating a college for “white boys and girls.” However, efforts by the City of Cincinnati and UC’s original board of directors resulted in a true university of higher education open to all, regardless of race or color.
Professor Schade is also the author of “‘The German University and the American College’ (1871): Charles Phelps Taft’s Essay on the Founding of a University in Cincinnati” in Das Ohiotel-The Ohio Valley: The German Dimension, ed. by don Heinrich Tolzmann. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 1993.
To learn more about Charles McMicken, please see the essay about him in The University of Cincinnati by Kevin Grace and Greg Hand. Montgomery, AL: Community Communications, 1995.
To learn more about Girard College as McMicken’s model, see: http://www.girardcollege.com/girard/site/default.asp.