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President Johnson, campus leadership give update at Community Partners meeting

February 3, 2021

Finlandia University President Philip Johnson gave an update to community partners on Wednesday, February 3 on the state of campus. Dr. Johnson, in partnership with other university leaders, talked with a group of community leaders about a number of different topics including the progress on the new Hirvonen College of Health Sciences Building renovation and the return to class for Spring 2021. 

Dean of Students Erin Barnett provided an update on the university’s return to campus plan for Spring 2021 and talked about the effectiveness of the baseline testing for COVID-19. All students and employees were tested prior to the start of in-person classes, and three asymptomatic off-campus students and one on-campus student was identified through baseline testing and quarantined so as to stop the spread. 

Barnett said that, as of Wednesday, the university had zero COVID-19 cases and that students have been receptive to masking and policies that are in place to keep each other safe. Barnett also said that Finlandia is partnering with Michigan Technological University to conduct contact tracing in an effort to alleviate the health department’s workload. In addition, FinnU has doubled its quarantine space available in Finlandia Hall this semester, should it be needed. 

“We realized we’re a big part of this community and we have a significant responsibility to ensure we are being safe,” said Barnett. 

Next, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Fredi de Yampert gave an update on the new Hirvonen College of Health Sciences, formerly the old Hancock middle/high school. 

“It’s taken quite a while to get into this building, so now that we have it online, we are extremely excited,” said Dr. de Yampert. 

Dr. De Yampert said the building is set up in a cohort model according to the programs. The physical therapist assistant program is in the old cafeteria while the east end of the building is has been designed for sophomore and junior nursing students. Technology upgrades are present throughout the building, and Dr. de Yampert is excited about adding another simulation mannequin for the nursing students in the near future. She did mention that the junior-level nursing students are still located on the main campus for the time being since their cohort is too large to engage in proper social distance learning in their new space. 

“Some courses lend themselves to a hybrid model, but with health science programs, we’re trying hard not to do that as much so everyone has an equal opportunity to learn these important skills on how to keep people healthy,” said Dr. de Yampert. 

“We are looking forward to inviting Bulldog alumni into that space this fall so they can experience the transformation,” said President Johnson. 

Other topics included the new Seaton Center for Vocation and Career (CVC) and the new on-campus health clinic, which opened this semester. The CVC provides one-on-one coaching for all students to identify their individual strength set, explore more fully their life’s vocation, and better prepare them for successful and meaningful careers. The on-campus clinic, staffed by Nurse Practitioner and nursing professor Cindy Blake and nursing students, provides medical and mental health services to students and employees. Both are located in Nikander Hall.  

In addition, Dean of Enrollment Anthony Schwass provided an update on the university’s fall 2021 enrollment projections. 

“We’ve been implementing more relational and collaborative admissions tactics,” said Schwass. “Above all else we’re prioritizing getting to know these students, who they are, and how they’ll be successful. It’s less about what Finlandia can offer to them and more about what they can offer Finlandia.” 

Schwass said the new tactics appear to be working as the number of applicants and deposits are now 181 percent and over 200 percent, respectively, higher than this time last year. 

Gary Black, Chief Financial Officer for FinnU, also provided an update on the university’s financial situation and said it has been utilizing all federal help available to assist students. He said the university finished the prior fiscal year with a small operating gain thanks, in part, to federal assistance which was able to address COVID-19 related revenue shortfalls and expenses

Finally, President Johnson concluded the event with an update on athletics. The esports program successfully launched in the fall with it’s new arena located in the Hirvonen College of Health Sciences. In addition, most of the university’s winter and spring sports will be playing in a limited season and student-athletes who are competing, are tested six days a week. The first men’s hockey game will occur this weekend, and, while no spectators will be allowed in any of the competitions, fans can livestream the games at fulions.com. 

To keep up to date on all Finlandia news, please visit finlandia.edu/news and follow Finlandia on social media. 

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