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

June 28, 2022

Philip Johnson 125th Anniversary Banquet

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 this small institution being continually reformed, continually reimagined, continually adapting to changing contexts.”

Begun in the late 19th century, Suomi College prepared young men and women from immigrant families for work in the United States. Today, Finlandia University is inspired by its vision to prepare graduates for the 21st century workplace and world. Reflecting on the presence of semper reformanda throughout the institution’s history, its vision and modalities, Johnson first spoke of the importance of reform and then presented a more adaptive meaning: being reformed.

“This Latin phrase is in the passive voice reminding us that there is agency beyond our own efforts, a divine agency. God is at work.

“It actually has strategic import for institutions of higher ed. It’s because we, as an institution, are constantly looking for ways to be responsive to the needs that serve the common good. How is it that we make sure that Finlandia continues to deliver a product that serves the common good?” Johnson said. “It is up to us to find ways to continually adapt to that new reality,” he later added.

Philip Johnson 125th Anniversary BanquetCommenting on the time he’s spent over the last few weeks working closely with President-elect Timothy Pinnow, Johnson also expressed his excitement for Finlandia’s new season of leadership.

“He understands semper reformanda and he is going to be able to lead this institution in such a way. I am so excited about the next season that he will lead.”

Johnson wrapped up Finlandia’s 125th Anniversary, and with it his final comment.

“It takes courage to live into a mission such as Finlandia’s, and I am so grateful for the courage in this room that has brought us this far.”

Shortly thereafter, Johnson and his spouse, René, were presented with the Philip & René Johnson Endowed Scholarship by Board of Trustees Chair Julie Badel.

“You good people who are here this evening, and many who are not here, have funded the Philip & René Johnson Endowed Scholarship. At the moment, that scholarship is a total of $40,000,” Badel said.

For anyone interested in giving to the Philip and René Endowed Scholarship, you can do so by contacting Executive Assistant to the President, Kailee Laplander, at kailee.laplander@finlandia.edu.

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