HANCOCK, Mich. (AP) — After more than a century, a university in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has celebrated its last group of graduates.
Nearly 100 graduates crossed a stage Sunday at Finlandia University, which had announced in March that it would close, citing debt, low enrollment and other challenges.
“This is not a funeral,” Stephen Nikander, whose great-grandfather founded what began as Suomi College, told graduates. “Commencement means beginning. As your post-collegiate lives begin, know that you received a unique valuable learning experience here.”
Marissa Schilling, who received a bachelor’s degree in nursing, was the last graduate on stage. She also played on the soccer team.
“I never thought it would come to be the last graduating class, but it feels good,” she told The Daily Mining Gazette. “Like they were saying, it’s not an ending but a new beginning. … I’ve built up some good memories.”
Finlandia was founded in 1896 as Suomi College by Finnish Lutheran immigrants. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Finlandia had more than 600 students at its peak but recently had less than 400.