Alumni are walking stories. One of the most pleasurable experiences I have as new president is meeting
alumni and listening to their stories. Virtually every time I run into a Suomi/Finlandia alumna or
alumnus, the discussion quickly, almost immediately, becomes a narrative filled with curious events and
colorful characters proudly relating life-changing college-days stories. Almost without exception,
laughter, at some point or another, breaks out. There is richness to these stories that momentarily, but
mercifully, distracts me from other tasks that, though necessary, are less refreshing.
There are, of course, exceptions. I have also engaged in meaningful and helpful conversations with
former students whose experiences at Suomi/Finlandia were mixed. I find these occasions valuable, as
well. I learn from these stories. They broaden and deepen my understanding of Finlandia's potential
imprint on the lives of her graduates.
Beyond laughter and lessons learned are the stories of service lived by our alumni in the Copper Country
and around the world. Finlandia has always been about preparing men and women to serve. Stories
closer to home may be better known, but those with a global impact, such as the career of Jeanne
Wierimaa Kemppainen, featured in this issue, are inspiring. And, to my surprise, I recently discovered
that a former colleague of mine in Tanzania, Marvin Kannanen, is a Suomi graduate who, for the past
fifteen years, has taught at the Masai Girls Secondary School near Moshi, Tanzania. Our alumni offer
countless stories of service, perhaps less exotic but no less significant, at home, in their neighborhoods,
and around their communities.
Often former students, after many years, find their way back to Finlandia to serve in critical leadership
roles. Sylvia Fleishman ('58) is our new Board of Trustees chair, and others, including Melvin Johnson
('54) and John Stierna ('63), serve as trustees on Finlandia's Board.
The university is fortunate to employ many of our graduates. In Advancement are Christine
(Armbruster) Mayworm ('00, '03), alumni relations, and annual fund director Ross Rinkinen ('04).
Alana (Evans) Nolan ('05) is the manager of North Wind Books, Bill Melchiori ('04) is our director of
student life and housing, and Jim Harden ('03) heads up Campus Security. Sandy Turnquist ('01) and
Jason Sullivan ('01) take care of student financial aid. Justin Veker ('04), maintenance, and Terri Olsen
('94, '08), TRiO, are also Finlandia graduates.
Several faculty members are alumni, including PTA instructor Geri Hawley ('98), Johnna Therrian ('88)
in Nursing, and Tonia Wolak ('02) in Human Services. Finlandia employees with exceptional lengths of
service include Kay Campioni ('89) in the business office, Cindy Lorenz ('82, '05) in the registrar's office,
and music professor Melvin Kangas ('57).
There are many more. Alumni make Finlandia a better place.
This summer's all-class Reunion 2008 will celebrate Finlandia's alumni stories. Christina Mayworm,
director of alumni relations, is collecting nominations for three different alumni awards to be presented
during the reunion. Each of them, a Distinguished Alumni Service Award, Young Alumni Award, and
Spirit of Finlandia Award, recognize, among other criteria, exceptional service. I encourage all
Finlandia/Suomi alumni to respond to this call for nominations. I also urge you to attend the reunion
June 26-29. See you there!
Philip Johnson, Ph.D.
Spring 2008 Bridge