Finlandia University

Finlandia University is a private Lutheran university in Hancock, Michigan. It is the only private university in the Upper Peninsula. Founded in 1896 as The Suomi College and Theological Seminary, it is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[2][3]

Finlandia University
MottoDominus Illuminatio Mea
Motto in English
The Lord is my Light
Established8 September 1896
PresidentPhilip Johnson
Students667 (2010)
Location, ,
United States

47°07′41″N 88°35′24″W
ColorsFinlandia Blue, Anthracite Gray and White               [1]


Suomi College was founded on September 8, 1896 by J. K. Nikander (b. 1855, Hämeenlinna, Finland, d. 1919).[3][4] During the 1880s, large numbers of Finns immigrated to Hancock, Michigan to labor in the copper and lumber industries. As a mission pastor of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America headquartered in Hancock, Nikander observed that Swedish and Finnish immigrants along the Delaware River did not train new ministers, and he feared a loss of Finnish identity. The college's role was to preserve Finnish culture, train Lutheran ministers and teach English. During the 1920s, Suomi College became a liberal arts college and in 1958, the seminary separated from the college. On July 1, 2000, Suomi College changed its name to Finlandia University.[4][5]

The cornerstone of Old Main, the first building erected at Suomi College, was laid on May 30, 1898. Jacobsville sandstone, quarried at the Portage Entry of the Keweenaw waterway, was brought by barge, cut, and used to construct the Old Main. Dedicated on January 21, 1900, it contained a dormitory, kitchen, laundry, classrooms, offices, library, chapel, and lounge. The burgeoning college quickly outgrew this building. In 1901 a frame structure, housing a gym, meeting hall, and music center, was erected on an adjacent lot. The frame building was demolished when Nikander Hall, named for Suomi's founder, was constructed in 1939. The hall was designed by the architectural firm of Eliel Saarinen and J. Robert F. Swanson. In addition to Old Main, the present day main campus consists of Nikander Hall, Mannerheim Hall, Wargelin Hall, Finlandia Hall, the Paavo Nurmi Center for Physical Education, the Kivi House, Hoover Center, the Finnish American Heritage Center, the Chapel of St. Matthew, and the Jutila Center.

Finlandia University has been a university of the Lutheran church since its inception. In 1988, the University became affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The curriculum, campus events, and the community explore the value of faith, vocation, and service. Finlandia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association for Colleges and Schools (NCA-HLC). In 1996, the university transitioned from a two-year college to a four-year university.


Finlandia University is located in Hancock, Michigan. The town is located on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Peninsula stretches north into Lake Superior.

Finnish American Heritage Center

Also part of Finlandia University, and serving both the campus and the community, is the Finnish American Heritage Center which hosts numerous university and community events and houses a museum, art gallery, and theater. The Finnish American Historical Archives are located here.

The Lions Den of North Wind Books offers an extensive collection of quality adult and children's fiction and nonfiction publications, and textbooks. It also sells Finnish functional design items for the home, and university logo merchandise.


There are 10 varsity sports at Finlandia. Women's athletics include: basketball, ice hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. Men's athletics include baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey and soccer. Finlandia University participates in NCAA Division III athletics.

Conference Affiliation:

  • Baseball: Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC)
  • Men's & Women's Basketball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)
  • Men's & Women's Cross Country: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)
  • Football: Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA)
  • Men's & Women's Hockey: Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA)
  • Men's & Women's Soccer: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)
  • Softball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)
  • Women's Volleyball: American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA)

Notable alumni

Notable alumni of Finlandia University include:


  1. "Style Guide - Finlandia". Finlandia University. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  2. Our Finnish Founders - History and Heritage, Finlandia University. Accessed 2009-07-29.
  3. Biographical Record: Houghton, Baraga and Marquette Counties. Chicago, IL: Biographical Publishing Company. 1903. p. 16. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  4. Holmio, Armas Kustaa Ensio (2001). History of the Finns in Michigan. Wayne State University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-8143-2974-0. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  5. "Library History, Mission, and Vision". Findlandia University. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
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