President Johnson's Bridge Letters
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President Johnson's Bridge Letters

Fall-Winter 2011

I know you will enjoy reading this issue of the Bridge. It is packed full of expressions of Finlandia's core values: student learning and growth, teaching excellence, heritage, innovation, collaboration, strategic achievement, and more. Institutional core values, however, are only as good as the people who embody and live them. People matter. In fact, people matter the most. There is a West African proverb, "People are the thing." We know this. Yet, we often live as if it were not so.

In this issue, we remember and celebrate one of those people who belong to our story, now past: Gloria Jackson. In this donor edition of the Bridge, it is appropriate to pause and remember Gloria, a woman who chose to live so generously.         ... MORE

Bridge-Fall-Winter 2011

Spring 2011

Let me begin my spring greeting by asking you a question: What do you believe is Finlandia's best self? What does that look like to you? Take a moment. Consider an answer.

Over the past three years our successes have been measured by achievements in shorter-term goals related to institutional moorings. We are meeting the challenge. This was affirmed during a recent team visit by our accrediting body. Addressing these shorter-term goals is not complete. Rigorous work remains. However, Finlandia's best self is not to be found in achieving or even sustaining these shorter-term goals. It lies elsewhere.         ... MORE

Bridge-Spring 2011

Fall-Winter 2010

Recently, in collaboration with several local Finnish-American entities, Finlandia University hosted a program by Dr. Arne Alanen, the 2010-11 Finlandia Foundation Lecturer of the Year. Dr. Alanen has produced a powerful and far-reaching work on Finnish America through an extraordinary array of photographs.

The images he has gathered poignantly capture the altered rural landscapes that reveal the presence of Finnish American immigrants throughout the U.S. and Canada. Construction techniques and materials, homestead configurations, house, barn, and church designs and, of course, the ever-present sauna building have clearly left a distinctive thumbprint on our land. Like all ethnic immigrant populations, Finns have created an enduring and distinctive cultural landscape on this continent.         ... MORE

 Bridge-Fall-Winter 2010

Spring 2010

Welcome to the spring 2010 issue of the Finlandia University Bridge! You will notice a different look: a new cover design, new headers and arrangement, new colors and graphics. The Bridge may also feel a bit heavier in your hands; it's eight pages longer. We want to say more and we want to say it well. Because it's not simply what we say that counts, it's how we say it. And what is true for Finlandia's magazine is true for Finlandia.

Here at Finlandia, our form, our "how" if you will, we describe as "uncommon attention." With this idea we are committing ourselves-in a very serious way-to a rigorous re-thinking and re-ordering of our lives together as a learning community.         ... MORE

Bridge-Spring 2010

Winter 2009

I hope once again you find good reading in this issue of the Bridge. I invite you to read through the lens of Finlandia's mission: a learning community dedicated to academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service. The accent on our three-part mission varies from issue to issue. Listen for this issue's accent on service.

The Bridge highlights the many good things that are happening at Finlandia. Behind these good things are good people working a good plan. After all, these good things must ultimately champion our history and heritage, reinforce our educational mission, and enable us to more fully realize our strategic goals.         ... MORE

Bridge-Winter 2009

Summer-Fall 2009


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Bridge-Summer-Fall 2009

 Spring 2009

In this spring issue of the Bridge, our theme centers on Finlandia's Campus and Community: Together for Good. I mentioned this briefly in our winter issue, and I promised to "keep you posted." Though you will find various expressions and explanations of this collaboration in the pages that follow, I want to share some updates.

In December, a letter of agreement with Gundlach Champion and Hitch Engineering and Architects was drafted and signed to provide preliminary assessments, designs, budgets, and a construction schedule. These documents were completed in mid-February. These services were offered without charge in anticipation of future engagement when projects move forward. Finlandia is grateful for this generous gesture.

In late January, respective governing bodies supported and ratified the initiative. Finlandia's Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the collaboration.         ... MORE

Bridge-Spring 2009

 Winter 2008

Our annual donor edition of the Bridge offers me a special opportunity to express my deep, deep gratitude for those who have financially supported Finlandia’s educational mission during this past year. Many of your gifts support our operating needs through the Annual Fund. Finlandia’s Advancement office raises 15 percent of our operating costs, and the Annual Fund is always our number-one priority. I thank you for making it yours, as well. In the pages that follow you will again appreciate the distinctive learning experience that Finlandia offers its students, made possible, in large part, by your generosity and faithful giving. Thank you.

Featured in this issue of the Bridge are the activities, programs, students, and faculty of Finlandia’s International School of Art & Design. I am convinced you will experience the energy and vitality of this part of our learning community. You will also hear about Finlandia’s newest commitments to marketing: a soon-to-be-launched redesigned university website plus new television spots. The message, and its package and delivery, is something we are constantly looking to improve.         ... MORE

Bridge-Winter 2008

Summer-Fall 2008

The sunflower is so named not only for its appearance, but also for its behavior. As a heliotropic flower, its blossom faces east each morning as it greets the sunrise, tracking the sun's course throughout the day, and looking west at sunset. In the morning, the sunflower is once again ready to face the new day.

The course of the sun, and the sunflower, reminds me of the seasonal cycles here on campus. The Finlandia University campus, on the south-facing slopes of Hancock, can't help but face the sun, adjusting our work and priorities as the seasons change and our community grows and changes.         ... MORE

Bridge-Summer-Fall 2008

Spring 2008

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.         ... MORE

Bridge-Spring 2008

Winter 2007

"Finlandia has roots. These roots are ethnic and religious, Finnish and Lutheran. I am Lutheran. I am not Finnish." So went the first lines of my first "President's Letter" in the fall 2007 issue of the Bridge. In that letter I talked about Finlandia's ethnic heritage and the challenges we face to "maximize the contemporary relevance of our ethnic heritage." I'd like to reflect on the other half of our heritage in this, my second letter: Finlandia's Lutheran heritage.

Recently I hosted two guests of the university in my office at Hoover Center. As we chatted the guests inquired about Finlandia's religious identity. We talked about the history of Suomi College and her theological seminary and what was then the Suomi Synod. They asked about Finlandia's contemporary relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the other 27 ELCA-affiliated colleges.         ... MORE

Bridge-Winter 2007