U.P. colleges rally after Finlandia closure

What's happening: Other institutions of higher learning in the Upper Peninsula are reaching out to students of Finlandia University after the private school announced it would close after the semester. Michigan Technological University, Bay de Noc Community College and Northern Michigan University have entered into “Teach-Out” agreements so students can stay in the region, if desired. Finlandia has also entered into “Teach-Out” agreements with downstate Adrian College to provide a similar NCAA DIII experience for student athletes, and with Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Those schools are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Gogebic Community College has also extended an invitation to displaced Finlandia students but does not have a standing “Teach-Out” agreement.

What is a teach-out: “Teach-Out” is more than a regular student transfer, providing a guaranteed acceptance into one of the other five universities for any Finlandia students in good standing. It also guarantees that all of the credits taken at the school will be honored and that tuition will not exceed the price set at Finlandia. If a student were to go to another university or college, he or she would have to pay an application fee and potentially risk having some of their credits not be accepted by the new institution. 

What they're saying: “I think we were all shocked here in the U.P. yesterday when Finlandia announced that they would be closing this summer. That’s a shock to everyone that’s been here. Finlandia has been around for 126 years, Northern (Michigan University) for 124 years, so they’ve been partners in higher education in the U.P for a long time,” said Derek Hall, chief marketing officer for Northern Michigan University. “With their announcement, we are working with them to make the transition for their students easy. If they want to come to Northern, we are clearing the path for that to happen.”

Why is Finnu closing: According to a statement by Finlandia President Timothy Pinnow, the university has had a lack of interest in enrollment and increasing debt. Since the 2020-2021 school year, there have been no academic requirements to enroll at the school. Maintenance costs have also increased with many of the older buildings needing renovation work. 

What's next: Finlandia leadership is working with various groups to help preserve numerous pieces of Finnish-American history owned and supported by the university. Finnish Foundation National, a Finnish-American group based out of Pasadena, Calif., has established a task force that will protect items, as well as historical forums, records and the Finnish-American Reporter newspaper. Multiple buildings and property have already been sold to the city of Hancock.
Students who were set to graduate after the spring semester will be able to graduate from the school, while other students, including student athletes, are able to freely enter into transfer portals. 
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