HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – On Thursday, March 2, Finlandia University’s Board of Trustees announced that Finlandia will not enroll students for the 2023-2024 academic year. The decision follows months of continuous efforts to find pathways for the University to continue its mission.
“I am deeply saddened to announce that due to a combination of demographic changes, with fewer high school graduates available, a steep decrease in interest in going to college among those graduates, and an unbearable debt load, Finlandia’s Board of Trustees met and have decided to not enroll students for the 2023-2024 school year,” the Board wrote in its statement.
In a letter to Finlandia’s students, faculty and staff, Finlandia President Timothy Pinnow wrote to his community saying the decision follows months of herculean efforts and constant and repeated attempts to mend Finlandia University’s finances and enrollment struggles.
“I do want to assure you that the leadership team, the Board of Trustees and myself have left no stone unturned in an attempt to avoid this day,” Pinnow said in his letter. “Our efforts have been noble and unceasing and while none of us wanted this day to come, we have also realized that in order to honor Finlandia’s 126 year-old legacy appropriately, we must end its operations with grace and dignity.
“As the leadership of Finlandia, our focus must now turn first to making sure that all of our students have good options to complete their education at another institution and that we can fulfill our intent that our employees be paid for all the work and tireless effort they have put into this little Finnish-Lutheran school way up north in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”
The Board stated that President Pinnow and his leadership team says they are working diligently to help Finlandia’s current students wrap up their studies and will help them smoothly transition to another college or university to complete their education.
Finlandia University has finalized four Teach-Out Agreements with Michigan Technological University, Bay College, Adrian College, and Wartburg College. A fifth agreement is in process with Northern Michigan University.
More information about Finlandia’s intentions and next steps is available on the University’s website at www.finlandia.edu. Specific questions not answered on the website can be sent to email@example.com.
On Friday, State Sen. Ed McBroom and State Rep. Greg Markkanen said they are saddened by the announcement by Finlandia University’s Board of Trustees that the school will close its doors and not enroll any students for the 2023-2024 academic year.
“Finlandia University has been opening up new opportunities for students and helping improve lives in the Upper Peninsula for over a century — and it is truly sad to hear that their long legacy of contributions will be coming to an end,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “I feel for the many students and staff and their families, yet I am also encouraged by the support of many universities who have already stepped up to ensure the Finlandia students can finish their education.”
Markkanen and his wife, Jane, are alumni of Suomi College, the former name of Finlandia, and live in Hancock, where the university is located.
“I am shocked and deeply saddened that Finlandia University — the school I love and that played such an important part of my life and in shaping the person I have become — will no longer be helping foster the talents of future students,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “It is good to hear that current students will have opportunities to finish their education at other schools, but losing an over 120-years-old institution is a huge loss for our community and the entire Upper Peninsula.”
The lawmakers said there are state resources available for impacted students and staff, such as numerous links to support from job training to housing at the state’s Helping Hand site at www.michigan.gov/helpinghand.
Anyone impacted by the closure and who needs help navigating state government can contact the lawmakers’ office at 517-373-7840 or SenEMcBroom@senate.michigan.gov for McBroom or 517-373-0850 or GregMarkkanen@house.mi.gov for Markkanen.