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 private secondary school for girls and later developed as 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. She was a prominent women's rights activist and Socialist.
Finch believed that the education she had received at Barnard College had not prepared her for a vocational life, so she decided to open a school to emphasize practical education. She developed a curriculum that was strongly based on both the liberal arts and hands-on learning, with special emphasis on workshops and studio art lessons.
Showing her desire to mix the theoretical with the practical, Finch hired a diverse faculty for the school. In addition to faculty from nearby Columbia University, Finch hired actors, fashion designers, politicians, poets, musicians, and other individuals working in the New York City area.
Finch was located in Manhattan's Upper East Side, an area of wealthy residents and one of the most expensive real estate districts in the United States. Nearby women's colleges included Marymount Manhattan College and Hunter College, both of which became coed in the cultural shift of the 1960s. The college's campus consisted of a grouping of townhouses on East 78th Street, between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue.
The Finch campus housed several resources for the public, including the Finch College Museum of Art and the Little Lenox Theatre.
Development as college
After decades as a preparatory school, Finch was developed to offer a four-year college curriculum. 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 established the Finch College Museum of Art in 1959. It published more than 100 books on art, especially art history.
By 1970, Finch, like most other women's colleges, was struggling to attract students against the competition of the coeducation movement that began in the 1960s. It had fewer than 400 students and applications declined in the period following the Vietnam War. Many families sought more diverse schools.
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 low. It was not successful in attracting federal funding to support tuition for lower-income students, nor could it merge with another 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.
- Nancy Azara, NYC artist, sculpture and collage
- Anne Cox Chambers, primary owner of Cox Enterprises
- Lois Chiles, actor and former fashion model
- Marjorie Content, photographer and bookstore owner
- Tricia Nixon Cox, daughter of U.S. President Richard Nixon
- Arlene Francis, actress, radio and television talk show host, and panelist on Whats My Line?
- Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington, sister of U.S. President John F. Kennedy
- Joan Whitney Kramer, singer/songwriter
- Gloria Hatrick McLean, wife of Jimmy Stewart
- Suzanne Pleshette, actor and co-star of The Bob Newhart Show
- Linda Purl, television actor
- Isabella Rossellini, actress and model
- Grace Slick, rock musician, member of the Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship (transferred to University of Miami after two years)
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