Students in field

Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen Named 2019 Recipient of Board of Trustees Distinguished Faculty Award

May 25, 2019

Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen was honored as the Board of Trustees Distinguished Faculty Award recipient at the 2019 Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 5.

Dr. Virtanen, an assistant professor of Finnish & Nordic Studies, joined Finlandia’s Suomi College of Arts and Sciences in 2014. She teaches 12 courses including Cultural Anthropology, Finnish Language, Gender in Nordic Society and the Kalevala. She also chairs the Institutional Review Board.

“Being part of FinnU’s commencement is an annual source of joy to me,” said Dr. Virtanen. “Being recognized through the Distinguished Faculty Award for my little bit in what we all do was a nice bonus.”

Finlandia University prides itself on providing uncommon attention. Dr. Virtanen speaks highly of her unique opportunities and experiences with students each year.

“Through both the general education and more minor-specific classes I teach and through my work with extracurricular activities including the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, the Kalevalathon, and the Wahlström Nordic Workshop I have unique learning experiences with a wide variety of students,” she said.

She is an ethnologist specializing in Nordic and Upper Midwestern (USA) cultural practices, including festivals, traditional arts, oral genres, music, folk dance, ethnic and national dress, and heritage language maintenance.

“Working at a small university means that I have connections with many of the students who cross the stage each year.”

One of the more memorable events each year is the trip Dr. Virtanen leads to Finland. A group of students each summer travel abroad in the Paloheimo Fellows Program.

“As someone who has had ‘Dr. V’ for a couple classes and gone with her to Finland, I was really happy to see her get the distinguished faculty award,” recent alumna Monica Freeman (‘19) said. “She’s hardworking and passionate about her field of study and classes. Her passion is so infectious and inspiring, and when I was a student it showed me that if you love what you do everything will work out.”

Dr. Virtanen received her B.A. in English & Anthropology from Michigan State University in 2003, her M.A. Folklore from Indiana University-Bloomington in 2008, a second M.A. in Scandinavian Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and her Ph.D. in Folklore/Scandinavian Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014.

Her professional memberships include the American Folklore Society, the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, and the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. She is also an Honorary Fellow at the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She has been published six times, most recently as a co-editor of The Making of Finland: The Time of the Grand Duchy” a Special Issue of Journal of Finnish Studies 21(1&2) in 2018.

For more information on Dr. Virtanen visit her directory page or her website.

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