H. Willard Reninger

Position: 
English Faculty

Harry Willard Reninger was born March 20, 1900, in Youngstown, Ohio. He received all of his academic degrees from the University of Michigan: his B. A. in 1924, his M. A. in 1927, and his Ph. D. in 1938.

Professor Reninger started his teaching career as a high school teacher in Detroit but soon moved on to college level teaching. He taught at the Michigan State Normal College as well as the University of Michigan before coming to the Iowa State Teachers College in 1939 as an associate professor of English. Professor Reninger was promoted to Head of the English Department in 1940. In 1943 he took a leave of absence in order to join the US Navy. He was commissioned a Lieutenant Senior Grade and sent to Missouri to teach in the V-12 program.

Professor Reninger was an important member of the college administration. Along with Professor William C. Lang and other faculty members, he helped to develop the new Humanities program for the college. In addition, he sat on the committee that suggested changing the name of the Iowa State Teachers College to State College of Iowa. In 1961 Professor Reninger was named a Fulbright Scholar and went to India for a year to teach American Literature at the University of Gorakhpur and Lucknow University.

Perhaps Professor Reninger's most famous student was Mona Van Duyn, who was appointed US Poet Laureate and won a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. He is also remembered for bringing James Hearst, one of Iowa's finest poets, to the college faculty.

Professor Reninger retired in 1968 but came back to the University in 1970 to serve as Acting Vice President. He served in that position for one year.

Professor Reninger was a scholar as well as a teacher and administrator. He published articles in journals such as American Literature and American Schoolmaster. Professor Reninger also co-authored several publications including an American literature textbook designed specifically for Indian students; Interpreting Literature (1960), a textbook that went through a number of editions; and "A Psychological Approach to Literary Criticism" (1933).

Professor Reninger was active in several organizations. He was a member of the Modern Language Association of America, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the American Association of University Professors. He was a member of the Iowa College Conference on English and served as its President from 1946-1948 and its Vice President from 1941-1942.

H. W. Reninger died December 13, 1988. He was survived by his wife Bette, son John, and daughter Katherine.

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