Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees at Finlandia University

The Finlandia University Board of Trustees serves the university on a volunteer basis as they look to build upon the strengths of the century-old Upper Peninsula institution. Below are introductions to each of the board members.



Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division
Chair, Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division

Dr. Nakkula’s teaching and research focus on the development of resilience and the promotion of possibility development among children and youth from low-income backgrounds. He is particularly interested in the integration of counseling, mentoring, and educational processes in urban schools to create contexts that allow students to thrive in school and during their transition to higher education and career opportunities.

Nakkula works with many national and international organizations to develop applied research strategies that promote the study of developmental and educational initiatives in support of enhanced mental health and optimal youth development.

Nakkula has served on the board since 2021.


Julie Badel Finlandia University


Former Partner (now retired), Epstein Becker Green

Julie Badel’s maternal grandparents immigrated from Kuusamo, Finland, in 1901. Fleeing the copper mines during the strike of 1913, her grandfather, Herman Hyrkas, moved his young family to Tapiola and began farming and working in the lumber camps. Her grandmother, Jenny, came from an educated family of professionals and imparted to the ensuing generations the importance of education. While Julie has had a long and interesting legal career in Chicago, her passions are all things Finnish, the Copper Country and her pack of German Shepherd dogs.

Julie Badel is a former partner, now retired, in the Chicago office of the national law firm Epstein Becker Green. She represented management in all phases of labor and employment law, including employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, wage-hour, unemployment, traditional labor law and unfair competition. She practiced before numerous state and federal agencies and defended employers in both single plaintiff and class action cases in federal agencies and courts. Also, she is a certified mediator.

Badel has served on the board since 2011.

Glenn Anderson


Houghton County Commissioner

Glenn Anderson has had a successful municipal management, community development and economic development career with experience throughout Upper Michigan, working for the Village of Baraga, the Village of Ontonagon, and the City of Hancock. Glenn was born in Hancock and grew up and graduated from high school in Baraga. After retiring from the City of Hancock as the City Manager, Glenn was elected as Houghton County Commissioner, representing District 3, which includes the City of Hancock, the Village of South Range and Adams Township. Glenn is married to Mary Lou and they have three children, Stacy, Jacki and Glenn Robert.

Glenn’s maternal grandparents immigrated from the Vaasa Finland area in the early 1900’s. While employed at the City of Hancock, he traveled several times to Porvoo Finland, which has a sister city relationship with Hancock. In addition, Glenn has made several family trips to Finland to visit relatives.

Anderson has served on the board since 2020.


Exercise Physiologist

Shelby Hamar was born and raised in Hancock, MI. Her mother, Lois Isaac Seaton, was a Suomi College graduate and her grandfather, Edward J. Isaac, was Suomi College president from 1952-1954. In addition, her father served on the Suomi/Finlandia Board of Trustees for many years. Her professional career as an Exercise Physiologist included work at a number of healthcare organizations in the Midwest, 2 years in the Peace Corps and 15+ years at Portage Health in Hancock. Shelby is an active member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock, singing in the church choir and serving on a number of committees. She is married to Doug and has 2 adult children, Leslie and Reid. She enjoys skiing, golf, Nordic walking and travel.

Jeanne Kemppainen


Irwin Belk Distinguished Professor of Nursing

Dr. Jeanne Kemppainen, originally from Detroit, Michigan, has lived in New York, California, Mississippi, and North Carolina. She is an internationally recognized scholar and nurse scientist with extensive experience in both advanced practice nursing and higher education. Her groundbreaking work on symptom self-management in chronic illness, as well we the critical incident research methodology has been widely recognized through invited presentations, guest lectures, and publications in premier medical and multidisciplinary journals. Her international experience includes collaborative research and scholarly partnerships with nursing scientists in Japan and Finland. She is also an active member of an international collaboration of nurse researchers from around the world.

As a mental health nurse certified by the American Nurses Assoc., she served in a variety of leadership and advanced practice roles during a career with the Veterans Administration Health Care System. During her tenure with the VA, Dr. Kemppainen received a national appointment as a VA Postdoctoral Nurse Fellow. Within the realm of higher education, she served in academic leadership positions including assistant department chair and faculty chair in the School of Nursing at the Univ. of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). In 2011, she received an appointment as an endowed research chair and distinguished professor of nursing at UNCW. Jeanne is married to Pastor Dale Kemppainen. They have three sons (Jon A. Kemppainen, Karl M. Kemppainen, and Paul J. Kemppainen) and six grandchildren.

Kemppainen has served on the board since 2011.

Mike Lahti


Business Owner and Real Estate Developer

Mike Lahti has been a businessman in the Hancock area for over 40 years. He graduated from Hancock Central High School and Northern Michigan University. He served as a member of the Hancock School Board, the Houghton County Board of Commissioners where he served as chairman, and as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives. Mike enjoys spending time with his family, playing tennis, and following sports, politics and history. He is married to Sharon (Pardini) Lahti. They have six children and 14 grandchildren. All four of Lahti’s grandparents emigrated from Finland.

Lahti has served on the board since 2011.

Tiger Marcotte


Director, Rural Health & Specialty Clinics

Marc Tiger Marcotte is a 2010 graduate of Finlandia University’s School of Nursing. After graduation, Marcotte moved out of the Upper Peninsula to pursue his nursing career in Colorado and Minnesota where he fulfilled a number of different nursing leadership roles. During this time, he completed his dual master’s degree in healthcare administration and nursing and has since moved back to the Upper Peninsula where he currently works at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

Tiger has been an active member of the community during his time and currently resides on the city planning commission, catholic school board, and youth hockey board. He is the founding member of Yooper Fitness and is currently expanding the brand into other areas of the Upper Peninsula.

Tiger was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula and currently resides in Manistique with his wife, Emily, and three children. In our free time the family loves to be outside, spend time at their camp in Skanee, and travel around in their UTV.

Marcotte has served on the board since 2021.

Dan Niemi Finlandia University BOT


Small Business and Individual Financial Planner

Daniel J. Niemi (’74) is the son of Rev. Leslie E. Niemi. Rev Leslie E. Niemi graduated from Suomi College Theological Seminary in 1954. Leslie was on the Board of Trustee and Presidents’ staff.

Athletics has always been apart of Dan’s life: All State of Michigan in basketball playing for Munising H.S. Michigan, All Regional at Suomi College, coached and pitched men’s fast pitch softball at the University of South Florida and Clearwater Florida, currently does fast pitch clinics for local high schools.

Daniel is married to Tanya Jennings and they reside in Marquette Michigan. They have five children and six grandchildren.

Niemi has served on the board since 2017.


Investment Manager

Stephen (Steve) Nikander is the great-grandson of Finlandia University founder Rev. Juho Kustaa Nikander as well as the grandson of its former president Dr. Viljo K. Nikander. Steve is a 1987 graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, with a major in Actuarial Science, initially following in the career footsteps of his uncle John Nikander. However, he had many talents and also considered potential careers as a cartoonist or sports writer, having his own editorial column in the college newspaper. After a few summers of semi-pro baseball post-college, Nikander settled into a finance path, putting his applied mathematical skills to work as an investment accountant in Los Angeles, California.

For the past twenty-five years, Nikander has accumulated diverse finance experience in the investment banking and insurance industry. As a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), he is a specialist in investment administration, fixed income analysis, and treasury management as well as a project manager with experience in implementing back office investment accounting and front office analytical solutions, having worked on both the buy side and the sell side for large institutional firms. In these positions, he managed and traded a multi-billion dollar fixed-income portfolio, evaluated a trillion dollar notional derivatives hedging program, recommended insurance capital allocation mix, implemented several large investment systems, while serving in the role of a chief investment operating and accounting officer. Steve has also served as the chief finance executive for a captive insurance division and as a pension actuarial analyst. He has published credits as a subject matter expert for the CFA study curriculum and serves as President on the regional board of directors for the Insurance Accounting & Systems Association (IASA).

Steve resides near his parents, Peter and Margot, and brother Mark in Santa Clarita, California along with his wife, Anna, and two children. The family is active in their community through their church and their children’s school, athletic and scouting endeavors. Steve loves being outdoors hiking, biking, and skiing, and continues to play multiple sports recreationally and dabble in his drawing.

Nikander has served on the board since 2018.

John Niska Finlandia University


Educational Consultant

Raised in a bilingual home on a beef farm in a Finnish-American Community near Ontonagon, MI, John learned basic Finnish and Finnish cultural traditions as a child. All four of his grandparents had emigrated from Finland in the early 1900’s and instilled in both their children and grandchildren the value of education, the importance of hard work, and pride in their heritage.

John’s comfort with other cultures and enjoyment of helping younger students learn began to broaden while in college at Michigan State. He spent his senior year as an exchange student to Ecuador, South America, where he taught a sixth-grade class and ran recreation programs for rural youth. This experience was augmented with seven summers spent as a leader and cross-cultural facilitator to countries in all parts of the world including Finland. A career in education followed – classroom teacher, guidance counselor, assistant high school principal, middle school principal, and state executive director, concluding with a 15-year stint directing a middle-level teacher training college program in the East.

Dividing his time now between his home in Providence, RI, and his cottage near Ontonagon, he continues to travel worldwide, study the Finnish language, cycle, cross-country ski, and enjoy film and photography. He recently reconnected with relatives in Finland and is conducting genealogical research with them. He also continues to engage in some educational consulting.

Niska has served on the board since 2018.

Ross Rinkinen Finlandia University


Financial Associate, Thrivent Financial

Ross Rinkinen is a 2004 graduate of Finlandia University’s International School of Business and is a founding member of the varsity men’s ice hockey team (2000–2004). Upon graduation, Rinkinen joined Finlandia’s Office of Admissions and continued with the men’s ice hockey program as an assistant coach. Together with head coach Joe Burcar, they went on to lead the Lions to an MCHA Playoff Championship in 2007. From 2005 to 2011, Rinkinen fulfilled many development roles for Finlandia, including serving as director of annual giving and major gifts before launching his own Thrivent Financial practice. He specializes in retirement planning, life insurance, wealth management, and end-of-life financial needs from his office in Hancock.

Ross founded the Copper Country Walleye Association in 2011 and is president of its board. The Association has assisted in planting 6.5 million walleye in the region, and is responsible for the annual Angler-Young Angler Tournament in partnership with Lund. Ross serves as the second vice president on the Chassell Lions and enjoys working with fellow Lions during the Copper Country Strawberry Festival each July.

Ross resides in Chassell with his wife, Shannon, and two children. Together they operate Chassell Bay Cottages vacation rentals. In his free time, Ross enjoys walleye fishing, spending time at camp in Escanaba, playing “old-timers” hockey, and coaching youth soccer, baseball, and hockey.

Rinkinen has served on the board since 2018.

Michael Weathers Board of Trustees


Finance & Legal Manager

Michael Weathers (‘83) of Jacksonville, Fla. joined Finlandia University’s Board of Trustees after being sworn in at the Board’s May 2022 meeting. Weathers is the finance & legal manager of the firm Bankruptcy Auto Advisors, LLC in Jacksonville. 

Weathers, who has teaching experience at the high school and college levels, spent five years working in the non-profit sector as director of family services & executive director for Habitat for Humanity. He attended Suomi College (‘83), Michigan State University, the University of St. Thomas and Wake Forest University with degrees in Education, Business Administration, Business Law and Theology. Throughout his career, Weathers has been elected to various public posts and has supported charitable organizations and services that assist in raising the human spirit. He is happily married and has two grown children and two grandsons.

Weathers has served on the board since 2022.

Board of Trustees News

Relive Graduation Day 2023 at Finlandia University | Photo Gallery & Livestreams

May 11, 2023

Finlandia University held its final Spring Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 7, honoring 92 graduates in the Class of 2023. Following commencement, a commendation service was held for Finlandia University students, staff, faculty, alumni, neighbors and friends, commending the University and its 126 years of service.

Full High-Res Photos from Spring 2023 Commencement:


On-Demand Livestream of Spring 2023 Commencement:

Full High-Res Photos from Service of Commendation:

Read More

Hirvonen Hall exterior
Finlandia honors legacy, Class of 2023 with final commencement and commendation ceremonies

May 10, 2023

Founded in 1896 as Suomi College, Finlandia University held its final spring commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 7, honoring 92 graduates in the Class of 2023. In March, the University announced the decision to dissolve the institution and not enroll students for the 2023-2024 academic year.

View PhotosWatch On-Demand

President Timothy Pinnow congratulates student at FinnU’s Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony.

Delivering the welcome address was Board Trustee Stephen Nikander, whose great-grandfather founded the institution and whose grandfather served […] Read More

Finlandia Residence Hall
Board of Trustees vote to dissolve University, wind up affairs in orderly manner

March 14, 2023

Announced Tuesday, March 14, Finlandia University’s Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to dissolve the institution and wind up affairs in an orderly manner. The announcement follows news from March 2 that the institution would not enroll students for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The Board of Trustees and University President Timothy Pinnow stated the extremely difficult decision is the result of an intensive analysis of Finlandia’s operations after exploring all potentially feasible strategic alternatives, including the rigorous search for new partnerships […] Read More

FinnU will not enroll students for 2023-2024Learn More