Watch CBS News

Finlandia University closing, will not enroll students for 2023-2024 academic year

HANCOCK, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Up North's Finlandia Univesity announced Thursday that it will not enroll students for the 2023-2024 academic year.

According to a press release on its website, officials say this comes after "months of continuous efforts to find pathways for the University to continue its mission." The university says it will be working with current students to finish their current studies and transition to another college or university.

In a statement from the Board of Trustees, the closure is due to demographic changes as well as fewer high school graduates available, a decrease in interest in attending college, and an "unbearable debt load."

"The Board feels enormous gratitude for all the employees – faculty and staff – who have worked tirelessly to make Finlandia the best it could be, even under the most challenging of financial circumstances," board chairperson Michael Nakkula said in the statement. "Your contributions will live on. And most importantly, we thank all the students, past and present, who chose Finlandia for their educational pursuits."

President Timothy Pinnow wrote to students and staff, saying the focus will now be ensuring students are able to complete their education at another university and employees are paid for their work.

"I do want to assure you that the leadership team, the Board of Trustees and myself have left no stone unturned in an attempt to avoid this day," Pinnow said in his letter. "Our efforts have been noble and unceasing and while none of us wanted this day to come, we have also realized that in order to honor Finlandia's 126-year-old legacy appropriately, we must end its operations with grace and dignity.

Finlandia, which was previously named Suomi College, was founded in 1896. It is the only private university in the Upper Peninsula and is one of 26 colleges and universities in the U.S. affiliated with the Evangelical Luthern Church in America   

In response to the closure, the university finalized Teach-Out Agreements with four colleges -- Michigan Technological University, Bay College, Adrian College and Wartburg College. A fifth agreement with Northern Michigan University is currently in process.

The agreements mean automatic admission to those four colleges for students in good standing. Students who complete their degree requirements by the end of the current spring and summer semesters will able to graduate from Finlandia.

Students who choose not to enroll in the four colleges can work with the university to transfer to another institution.

Officials say the university will still hold a commencement this spring on May 7.

Visit Finlandia University's website for more information.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.