Eric C. Kollman was a distinguished professor of history at Cornell College from 1944 until his retirement in 1973. During those years he inspired awe, respect, and affection for his scholarship, his commitment to teaching, and the friendly counsel he gave to his students. He taught frequently in summer sessions at many universities in the United States and Canada, and, on leaves of absence, at the universities of Mainz, Kiel, and Köln. In 1973 his biography of Theodor Koerner, a post-World War II president of Austria, was published in Vienna.
Kollman's life was touched by many of the major events of twentieth century history. He was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War and lived through the breakup of that empire. His formal education was completed in the 1920s with a doctorate from the University of Vienna. In addition to his major subjects of history and German literature, he studied philosophy, psychology, education, and geography. He was pursuing a teaching career when Nazi German occupation of Austria forced him into exile.
Kollman arrived in the United States in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II, part of a group of outstanding European Jewish scholars and artists who were fortunate enough to escape Hitler's minions and bring to their new homeland their considerable gifts. From Vienna alone, this group included Bruno Bettelheim, Paul Lazarsfeld, Rudolph Serkin, and Robert Kann, all friends of Eric Kollman. In 1979, Kollman was one of 100 exiled Austrians invited by the Austrian government to Vienna to be honored on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the second Austrian Republic.
Cornell College awarded Kollman an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, in 1977.