125 Year Anniversary

Celebrating 125 Years

125 years ago, hardy and hard-working Finnish Lutheran immigrants founded a school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Their lives were marked by a gritty quality captured in the Finnish term, sisu – grit and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Begun in the late 19th century as Suomi College to prepare young men and women from immigrant families for work in the United States, we are today Finlandia University inspired by our vision to prepare graduates for the 21st century workplace and world.

Finlandia’s roots are not only Finnish. They are Lutheran as well, today belonging to a 26-member Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities (NECU) whose shared vision is to graduate men and women who are called and empowered, to serve the neighbor, so that all may flourish.

We hope you take a moment to enjoy this page to learn about our important historic milestones, view upcoming events and help us ensure Finlandia continues to thrive for the next 125 years and beyond.

If there’s a story you think should be included here, please reach out to Archivist Joanna Chopp by mail, phone, or email. Chopp can also be reached for questions regarding the anniversary celebrations: Joanna Chopp, Archivist, Finnish American Historical Archive •601 Quincy St. Hancock, MI 49930 • 906-487-7347 • archive@finlandia.edu

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125 Anniversary In the News

Hoover Center
Preserving History: Old Main and Hoover Center

July 28, 2022

In 1899, more than 2,000 people gathered at the site of Suomi College’s first building to witness and take part in the laying of the cornerstone. 123 years later, Finlandia University once again welcomes its community from near and far to be a part of history.

Join us on Saturday, July 30 as we paint the Hoover Center and restore a handful of Old Main’s most timeworn sandstones. Stop by for a little while, or the whole day, but don’t miss […] Read More

Philip Johnson 125th Anniversary Banquet
‘Semper Reformanda’: Johnson makes final address at 125th Anniversary celebration

June 28, 2022

After 15 years in office, Dr. Philip Johnson made his final address as President of Finlandia University on June 23, 2022. In the celebratory conclusion of Finlandia’s 125th Anniversary, patrons gathered in Martha Wiljanen Hall to reflect on FinnU’s past while boldly imagining its future.

“Semper reformanda; always reforming,” Johnson said. “As I think about our 125 years, if there is a single thread that weaves its way through our story here at Suomi College, Finlandia University, it’s this idea of […] Read More

125th Anniversary Video of Martti Nisonen Music
125th Anniversary Performance by Kent Washburn and Meri Siirala | Music of Martti Nisonen

June 21, 2022

In 1922, Martti Nisonen began his career at Suomi College, now Finlandia University, quickly gaining popularity as a profound teacher of music and prolific composer. Before his passing in 1946, Nisonen amassed more than 10 linear feet of compositions and arrangements now safely stored at Finlandia’s Finnish American Heritage Center and Historical Archive.

Kicking off its year of 125th Anniversary celebrations in December 2021, Finlandia held a Sunday worship service and its annual commemoration of Finnish Independence Day. The day was […] Read More