Finch College

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Finch College was a baccalaureate women's college located in Manhattan, New York City, in the U.S. state of New York. It began as a finishing school and later evolved into a liberal arts college. Finch closed in 1976.


Finch was founded in 1900 as The Finch School by Jessica Finch (née Garretson, later Cosgrave; 1871–1949), an alumna of Barnard College and New York University as well as a prominent women's rights activist and Socialist.

Finch believed that the education she had received as a wealthy young woman had not prepared her for a vocational life, so she decided to open a school that would put more focus on practical education. She developed a curriculum that was heavy on both the liberal arts and hands-on learning, with special emphasis on workshops and studio lessons.

Showing her desire to mix the theoretical with the practical, Finch hired a very mixed faculty for the school. In addition to faculty members from nearby Columbia University, Finch hired actors, fashion designers, politicians, poets, musicians, and other individuals who were working in the New York City area at the time.


Finch was located in Manhattan's Upper East Side, one of the most expensive real estate districts in the United States. Nearby colleges included Marymount Manhattan College and Hunter College. The college's campus consisted of a grouping of townhouses on East 78th Street, between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue.

The campus housed several resources for the public, including the Finch College Museum of Art and the Little Lenox Theatre.

Today, the Finch campus is largely occupied by the Ramaz School, a Modern Orthodox Jewish preparatory school.[1]

Development as college[edit]

In 1952, Finch became a Bachelor's degree-granting college, offering the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in most liberal arts fields.

Finch was noted for its international focus and diversity among learning levels. Many students came from abroad, often from high-income areas. In 1960, the college launched the Finch Intercontinental Study Plan, which became a noted study abroad program. They also offered special tuition assistance and tutoring to students from minority and lower-class backgrounds.

In its later years, the college was best known for its strong art program. Several noted artists taught courses or displayed at the college, including Edmond Casarella and Hedda Sterne. Finch later had its own museum, the Finch College Museum of Art, founded in 1959. It also published more than 100 books on art, especially art history.


By 1970, Finch, like most other women's colleges, was greatly affected by the coeducation movement that began in the 1960s. There were fewer than 400 students and applications became even less common following the Vietnam War, with its generational move away from elitism.

Although Finch had maintained one of the most expensive tuition rates in the country, reflecting its traditional status as a school for young women from wealthy backgrounds, the college's endowment was also low. Attempts to receive federal funding were not successful, nor were those to merge with another college.

In 1975, Finch's president, Rodney O. Felder, announced his intent to close the college. Finch formally closed the next year,[2] passing its records over to Marymount Manhattan College.


In 1993, the Finch College Alumnae Association (FCAA) was founded in order to preserve the college's history and provide fellowship for alumnae. In addition to traditional alumni services, the FCAA Foundation offers scholarships to students transferring from community colleges in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to baccalaureate institutions.

Notable alumnae[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldberger, Paul. "A Bridge Known as Ramaz School.", The New York Times, June 4, 1981. Accessed July 16, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e Arenson, Karen (January 26, 1997). "Rodney O. Felder Dies at 69; Finch College's Last President". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-01-09. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′31″N 73°57′43″W / 40.7754°N 73.9619°W / 40.7754; -73.9619