Finlandia’s growth is worth noting

On Sunday, the first of the area “school years” came to an end when 115 students became alumni during Spring Commencement at Finlandia University. Living in the shadow of the larger institution across the bridge, Finlandia’s contribution to the Keweenaw is often overlooked.

In past years the growth experienced by the private college has been exciting to watch. It seems each year expanded programs are producing more students earning baccalaureate degrees in a variety of important career areas.

The nursing program, long the hallmark of the institution, continues its stellar reputation and many of the programs, including education and physical therapy assistant, are producing professionals in highly sought-after career areas.

Last week, FU sports garnered headlines with announcements that will have a significant impact on Upper Peninsula athletics.

The hiring of head football coach Tim Driscoll, a long-time Michigan Technological University assistant coach shows Finlandia is committed to producing a competitive team largely using regional talent.

Driscoll’s hiring wasn’t the only big news out of FU Athletics. Former Lion basketball standout Mike O’Donnell, a successful high school coach at his alma mater Negaunee, is returning to Hancock as head men’s basketball coach.

In hockey, former North American Hockey League Coach of the Year Dane Litke will try to work his magic locally to return the Lions to a competitive position in their conference.

As Paul Peterson showed in the first of a two-part series on FU sports in Saturday’s Daily Mining Gazette, in just 15 years Finlandia Athletics has grown to 14 teams.

This expansion continues former university president Robert Ubbelohde’s dream of giving local students the chance to pursue an education and still continue their athletic careers.

At commencement, we congratulate all Finlandia graduates as we congratulate the administration, faculty and staff for their contributing contributions to making our area one of the most special places on earth.