Finlandia University

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Finlandia University
Finlandia University seal.png
Motto Dominus Illuminatio Mea
Motto in English
The Lord is my Light
Type Private
Established 8 September 1896
President Philip Johnson
Location Hancock, Michigan, United States
47°07′41″N 88°35′24″W / 47.128°N 88.59°W / 47.128; -88.59Coordinates: 47°07′41″N 88°35′24″W / 47.128°N 88.59°W / 47.128; -88.59
Campus Rural
Colors Finlandia Blue, Anthracite Gray and White               [1]
Mascot Lions

Finlandia University is a university in Hancock, Michigan, United States, and the only private university in the Upper Peninsula. Founded in 1896 as The Suomi College and Theological Seminary, it is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[2][3]


Old Main, between 1900 and 1906
Finlandia Hall

Suomi College was founded on 8 September 1896 by J. K. Nikander (b. 1855, Hämeenlinna, Finland, d. 1919).[3][4] During the 1880s, large numbers of Finns immigrated to Hancock, Michigan to labor in the copper and lumber industries. As a mission pastor of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America headquartered in Hancock, Nikander observed that Swedish and Finnish immigrants along the Delaware River did not train new ministers, and he feared a loss of Finnish identity. The college's role was to preserve Finnish culture, train Lutheran ministers and teach English. During the 1920s, Suomi College became a liberal arts college and in 1958, the seminary separated from the college. On July 1, 2000, Suomi College changed its name to Finlandia University.[4][5]

The cornerstone of Old Main, the first building erected at Suomi College, was laid on May 30, 1898. Jacobsville sandstone, quarried at the Portage Entry of the Keweenaw waterway, was brought by barge, cut, and used to construct the Old Main. Dedicated on January 21, 1900, it contained a dormitory, kitchen, laundry, classrooms, offices, library, chapel, and lounge. The burgeoning college quickly outgrew this building. In 1901 a frame structure, housing a gym, meeting hall, and music center, was erected on an adjacent lot. The frame building was demolished when Nikander Hall, named for Suomi's founder, was constructed in 1939. The hall was designed by the architectural firm of Eliel Saarinen and J. Robert F. Swanson. In addition to Old Main, the present day main campus consists of Nikander Hall, Mannerheim Hall, Wargelin Hall, Finlandia Hall, the Paavo Nurmi Center for Physical Education, the Kivi House, Hoover Center, the Finnish American Heritage Center, the Chapel of St. Matthew, and the Jutila Center.

Finlandia University has been a university of the Lutheran church since its inception. In 1988, the University became affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The curriculum, campus events, and the community explore the value of faith, vocation, and service. Finlandia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association for Colleges and Schools (NCA-HLC). In 1996, the university transitioned from a two-year university to a four-year university.[citation needed]


Finlandia University is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, located in the state’s northernmost city, Hancock. Surrounded by pristine forests, the university campus is just minutes from the southern shore of Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water on earth.


Finlandia Lions logo

Athletics are an important part of Finlandia University. There are 14 varsity sports at Finlandia. Women's athletics include: basketball, cross country running, golf, ice hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. Men's athletics include baseball, basketball, cross country running, football, golf, ice hockey and soccer. Finlandia University is part of the NCAA Division III athletics.

Conference Affiliation:

Baseball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Men's & Women's Basketball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Men's & Women's Cross Country: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Men's & Women's Hockey: Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA)

Men's & Women's Soccer: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Softball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Women's Volleyball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Study abroad[edit]

Students in the International Schools of Business and Art & Design enjoy a variety of overseas educational exchange opportunities to study and experience life abroad.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni of Finlandia University include:

Additional resources[edit]

North Wind Books

Finnish American Heritage Center[edit]

Also part of Finlandia University, and serving both the campus and the community, is the Finnish American Heritage Center which hosts numerous university and community events and houses a museum, art gallery, and theater. The Finnish American Historical Archives are located here.

The University publishes The Finnish American Reporter, a monthly English language journal featuring news and information of interest to Finnish Americans.

The Lions Den of North Wind Books offers an extensive collection of quality adult and children's fiction and nonfiction publications, and textbooks. It also sells Finnish functional design items for the home, and university logo merchandise.


  1. ^ "Style Guide - Finlandia". Finlandia University. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  2. ^ Our Finnish Founders - History and Heritage, Finlandia University. Accessed 2009-07-29.
  3. ^ a b Biographical Record: Houghton, Baraga and Marquette Counties. Chicago, IL: Biographical Publishing Company. 1903. p. 16. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Holmio, Armas Kustaa Ensio (2001). History of the Finns in Michigan. Wayne State University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-8143-2974-0. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Library History, Mission, and Vision". Findlandia University. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 

External links[edit]