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Finlandia University
Motto Dominus Illuminatio Mea
(Lord Enlighten Me)
Established 1896
Type Private
President Philip Johnson
Location Hancock, Michigan, United States
Campus Rural
Colors Finnish Blue, Navy Blue, and White                  
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 Suomi College, it is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[1]



Finlandia Hall

In the 1880s, large numbers of Finns immigrated to Hancock, Michigan to labor in the copper and lumber industries. One immigrant, mission pastor J. K. Nikander of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, headquartered in Hancock, wanted to ensure seminary training in America. He had observed that Swedish and Finnish immigrants along the Delaware River did not train new ministers, and he feared a loss of Finnish identity. In 1896, Nikander founded Suomi College. 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. In 1958, the seminary separated from the college. On July 1, 2000, Suomi College changed its name to Finlandia University.

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, J. K. Nikander, 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.

Suomi College brought hope of a new future to many of the Finnish immigrant mine workers in the Upper Peninsula. These immigrants brought with them a heritage of learning with good character, a tradition of literacy, and a love for freedom and faith. Finlandia University still thrives on these principles.

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. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the University. In 1996, the university transitioned from a two-year university to a four-year university.

Serving more than 500 students from ten states and three countries, Finlandia University celebrates the diversity of its student body through education and experience with others. Seven percent of Finlandia University students are members of minority groups and 6 percent are international. Approximately one-fourth of all students live in the co-ed residence hall.


Finlandia University's campus is located in Hancock, Michigan. The University is two hours west of Marquette, Michigan; four hours north of Green Bay, Wisconsin; six hours northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and eight hours north of Chicago, Illinois. The Houghton County Memorial Airport is five miles north of the campus, and Mont Ripley, the area ski hill, is about a mile from the campus. Nestled on a hill across the Portage Lake from Houghton, Michigan, the campus offers an incredible view. Fall colors, winter snowfalls, and spring flowers guarantee a dynamic panorama year-round. Hancock and Houghton also offer students social opportunities for shopping, theater, and dining, all in the natural setting of the Copper Country.

Finnish American Heritage Center

At the turn of the century, the Keweenaw Peninsula was the single greatest supplier of copper in the world. Old mine shafts act as a living history of the industry and civilization of the area. The area is rich in Finnish culture; one can still order Pannukakku (Finnish pancakes) for breakfast at the Kaleva Café or listen to a kantele concert (a Finnish string instrument) performed in the Finnish American Heritage Center theater.

The rugged terrain of the Keweenaw Peninsula extends into Lake Superior, making it great for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, canoeing, and camping. From the top of Brockway Mountain to the shores of Lake Superior–on both sides of the peninsula–waterfalls, streams, and wildlife make viewing the area a beautiful spectacle. The winter season is also very active, as students enjoy ice-skating, snowmobiling, hockey, and both downhill and cross-country skiing.

Programs of Study

International School of Art & Design

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
    • Concentrations
      • Ceramic Design
      • Digital Art
      • Fiber/Fashion Design
      • Graphic Design
      • Interior Design
      • Product Design
      • Studio Arts
        • Arts-Illustration
        • Drawing and Painting
      • Sustainable Design

International School of Business

  • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Concentrations
      • Accounting
      • International Business
      • Management
      • Sports Management

Suomi College of Arts and Sciences

  • BA-Elementary Education
  • BA-Human Services
  • BA-Liberal Studies/Arts, Culture and Environment
  • BA-Liberal Studies/English
  • BA-Liberal Studies/Social Sciences
  • BA-Liberal Studies/General
    • General Liberal Studies Concentrations
      • Christian Vocation
      • Corporate Communications
      • Economics and Business
      • English Language and Literature
      • Environmental Policy
      • Environmental Science
      • Finnish Studies
      • History and Political Science
      • International Studies
      • Pre-Law
      • Psychology and Sociology
      • Religion and Philosophy
      • Science
      • Visual Communications
  • AAS-Criminal Justice
  • AGS-General Studies

College of Health Sciences

  • BSN-Nursing
  • BSN-RN to BSN Completion
  • AAS-Physical Therapist Assistant

Student and Community Service

Finlandia University's learning community is committed to service. Members of Finlandia’s learning community have been and remain dedicated to serving others. This commitment dates back to our founders and draws on the basic tenets of Lutheran Higher Education. Opportunities to get involved and make an impact far beyond the classroom walls are abundant. Within the learning community our students, staff, and faculty look for ways to grow and discover more about themselves and their surroundings, and help people in need in the community. We bring our mission statement to life through campus projects, social activities, and partnerships with community members and organizations.

Portage Campus

Opened in 2005, Finlandia's second campus, the Jutila Campus, is home to the International School of Art and Design and the Lily I. Jutila Center for Global Design and Business (CGDB). The CGDB provides a collaborative environment for students, faculty, business and industry to lean and apply sustainable business practices and works to foster regional economic development. An on-site small business incubator provides a supportive environment in which to start and grow a business. CGDB services also include design and business consulting, rapid prototyping and business training classes.


Paavo Nurmi Center

Athletics are an important part of Finlandia University. There are twelve varsity sports at Finlandia. Women's athletics include: basketball, cross country running, ice hockey, soccer, softball, and volleyball. Men's athletics include: ice hockey, baseball, basketball, cross country running, golf, and soccer. Finlandia University is part of the NCAA Division III and also part of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) for women's hockey, and Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association (MCHA) for men's hockey.

Study Abroad

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

Additional University Resources

North Wind Books

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, theater, the Finnish American Historical Archives,the Finnish American Reporter, a monthly English language journal featuring news and information of interest to Finnish Americans, North Wind Books. North Wind Books, the Lions Den offer textbooks and university logo merchandise, an extensive collection of quality adult and children's fiction and nonfiction publications, and Finnish functional design items for the home.


  1. ^ Our Finnish Founders - History and Heritage, Finlandia University. Accessed 2009-07-29.

External links



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