HANCOCK – Finlandia University celebrated the grand opening of its Hirvonen Hall on Quincy Street on Saturday, July 23. Hirvonen Hall is home to the College of Health Sciences, which is Finlandia’s nursing and physiotherapist assistant program. Hirvonen Hall was built in 1923 as Hancock High School.
Kailee Laplander, executive assistant to the president and college advancement, said the grand opening was in conjunction with the Hancock Alumni All-School reunion.
“That’s because Hirvonen Hall is the old Hancock High School,” Lapp said: “which was part of a Finlandia University acquisition, and we renamed it Hirvonen Hall.”
Laplander said the hall was named for Ray and Peg Hirvonen, who were donors. Ray was a longtime member of the board of trustees and the emirate of the university’s board of trustees.
What is now Hirvonen Hall had served as Hancock High School until 1999, when the school district opened its new facility near the Quincy Mine, just off US 41. From 1999 to 2009, the old high school in Quincy Street became Hancock Middle School. for students in grades 6 to 8
Finlandia University subsequently acquired the Quincy Street property in 2009. Through a strategic and creative exchange of resources with Hancock Schools known as Campus and Community: Together For Good, Finlandia renamed the building to recognize the legacy of extraordinary leadership and generosity from the Hirvonen family.
Finlandia University’s website says renovations to Hirvonen Hall began in 2019, following a joint venture between Finlandia and Mike Lahti, who has served on the university’s board of trustees since 2011. Together , the two men are committed to preserving the historic character of the building, enhancing its community spaces and creating inspiring learning environments. Hirvonen Hall is now home to Finlandia College of Health Sciences programs and also serves as the venue for the Finlandia Lions Esports Arena, in addition to several local businesses located on the fourth floor.
“As my wife, Sharon, and I both graduated from Hancock High School,” Lahti is quoted on the website as saying, “I am happy to have been able to participate in the renovation to make the building, once again, a viable place of learning in the center of our city”, said Lahti.
According to his obituary, published in the January 4, 2022 edition of Maquette Mining Journal, Ray Hirvonen has served on a number of community and corporate boards, and he particularly enjoyed being a director of Wis Pak. , Inc., the first of America Bank of Marquette, Finlandia University and Superior Extrusion, Inc.
Hirvonen retired in 1989 and he and his wife, Peg, spent the winters in their second favorite place – Stuart, Florida, and enjoyed touring the country in their RV. Together, they saw the need to help the many great local organizations and formed the Ray and Peg Hirvonen Charitable Foundation, which continues to serve Michigan’s Central UP and Florida’s Treasure Coast, her obituary states.
Additional funding for the renovation of the hall’s interior spaces and state-of-the-art technology has been provided by many other friends and alumni whose support is acknowledged with named classrooms, labs and offices.
Two foundations, the Towsley Foundation and the Portage Health Foundation, continue to provide generous, large annual gifts for technology and scholarships.
“The new spaces have fundamentally changed the educational atmosphere. The open concept is so welcoming. Irina Sergeyeva, associate professor of nursing and coordinator of the RN program at BSN, is quoted on the Finlandia website. “Each cohort has its designated floor where classrooms, labs, and instructor offices are clustered together. The design enhances instructor-student interaction. Sergeyeva was the spring 2021 recipient of the Finlandia Rising Star Faculty Award 2021 board award.
The history of Finlandia University dates back to the 19th century, when it was founded as Suomi College in 1896, by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The cornerstone of Old Main, the first building erected at Suomi College, was laid on May 30, 1898. Jacobsville sandstone, quarried at the portage entrance of the Keweenaw Waterway, was brought here by barge, cut and used to build Old Main. Inaugurated on January 21, 1900, it contained a dormitory, kitchen, laundry room, classrooms, offices, library, chapel and lounge. The burgeoning college soon outgrew this building, and in 1901 a frame structure, housing a gymnasium, assembly hall, and music center, was erected on adjacent land. The frame building was demolished when Nikander Hall, named after Suomi founder JK Nikander, was built in 1939.