Mary C. Finger, Ed.D. Inaugurated as Tenth President of Seton Hill University
Mary C. Finger, Ed.D., was inaugurated as the Tenth President of Seton Hill University during a ceremony earlier today. The theme of the Inauguration was “Stewarding the Legacy: Fitting Our Students for the World in Which They Will Live.”
The Inauguration Ceremony allowed Seton Hill students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, community leaders and distinguished guests from other colleges and universities an opportunity to celebrate Seton Hill’s past and the significance of the University’s traditions while looking ahead to creating the next chapter of its rich history.
“Our institution has been and will continue to be an example of the character and values that Elizabeth Ann Seton lived," Finger said in her inaugural address. “Elizabeth Ann Seton's legacy, the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, the legacy of our predecessors is a legacy of courage born of faith."
Finger continued: "Seton Hill's mission, to educate for the future, for the world in which we will live rather than the world in which we currently reside, the courage to prepare students and ourselves in an environment of rapid change, is as powerful today as it was in the revolutionary times of Mother Seton or our founding 130 years ago."
Michele M. Ridge, Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and a 1969 Seton Hill alumna, presided over the ceremony, which was held at Seton Hill’s Performing Arts Center in downtown Greensburg. Mrs. Ridge presented the Inaugural Proclamation, and, with Sr. Catherine Meinert, S.C., Provincial Superior and President of the U.S. Province of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and Vice Chair of the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees, conferred the Presidential Medallion on Mary Finger.
“Mary’s professional and personal history shows a deep commitment to Catholic higher education,” Mrs. Ridge said in the Inaugural Proclamation. “She is steeped in the Vincentian and Setonian traditions. Mary Finger understands and is inspired by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and is committed to the ideal that this University, in the words of Elizabeth Ann Seton, ‘helps fit our students for the world in which they are destined to live.’”
Ridge continued, “The Board of Trustees is grateful that Dr. Finger accepted the responsibility to serve Seton Hill and we celebrate with her today the ceremonial beginning of her tenure as President. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and the entire Seton Hill University community, I extend our promise of enthusiastic support as we work together to advance the mission of our beloved University.”
Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg offered the invocation, while Sr. Catherine provided the benediction.
The program began with a procession of more than 130 students, faculty, staff, alumni and delegates representing more than 30 academic institutions. The procession included 19 students carrying the flags of their nations or territories of origin representing five continents.
The ceremony featured a special presentation on Seton Hill’s mission and Catholic, liberal arts identity.
Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Sisters of Charity took the audience on a journey through Seton Hill’s history – starting with the founding of the Sisters of Charity in America by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton through the establishment of what would become Seton Hill University by Mother Aloysia Lowe and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and through all of the major milestones the University has achieved.
And they charged Dr. Finger with drawing on the creativity and vision of the past presidents of Seton Hill and the Sisters of Charity who founded the institution as she shepherds Seton Hill forward.
“With our mission as a Catholic Liberal Arts university as our guidepost, we hold paramount trust, civility, and recognition of the human dignity of each person,”offered Curt Scheib, chair of the Division of Visual and Performing Arts and co-chair of the Inauguration Committee. “With Mary Finger’s leadership, we will continue to foster a community of learning that is open, challenging and forward thinking.”
The Inauguration Ceremony was preceded earlier in the day by a Mass celebrated by Bishop Brandt. The Mass featured a homily by DePaul University President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., and a reflection by Stephanie Russell, Ed.D., vice president for mission and ministry at Marquette University.
Mary C. Finger, Ed.D. Biography
Following an extensive national search Seton Hill University’s Board of Trustees selected Mary Finger, B.A., M.A., Ed.D. as the University’s tenth President. Dr. Finger began her tenure on June 1, 2014.
Mary Finger brings to the Presidency of Seton Hill a wealth of experience from her thirty-year career in higher education. She holds the firm belief that, as President, she is tasked with maintaining the extraordinary progress made at Seton Hill over the last few decades while guiding the University as it comes into a new period of dynamic growth and development.
Mary Finger came to Seton Hill following almost a decade of service as senior vice president for advancement at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She led and implemented the institution’s first comprehensive capital campaign Many Dreams One Mission. As part of this effort, she managed the integration of DePaul’s alumni relations, alumni communications and fundraising operations into a robust advancement program. The campaign, which concluded in June 2014, raised $333 million, far surpassing the initial $250 million goal.
In addition to her leadership in the advancement area, Finger co-chaired the Task Force on Innovation that created processes for developing and evaluating new academic programs at DePaul and examined alternative instructional and delivery methods. As part of DePaul’s strategic planning process, Finger also served on the Financial Planning/Business Sustainability Task Forces responsible for providing long-term assessment and plans for institutional viability, enhancement of academic prominence, increased enrollment and retention, and successful fundraising initiatives. She chaired DePaul’s Affinity Task Force that developed new programs to deepen student engagement with the university as well.
Through her leadership and thoughtful planning, Mary Finger helped ensure the growth and success of other institutions of higher education. Prior to her position at DePaul, she served as vice president for planning and institutional advancement at Mount Mary University, formerly Mount Mary College, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she oversaw major strategic planning initiatives that shaped the college’s priorities for enrollment and retention, fundraising , and budgeting resources in support of academic enhancement.
Prior to her work at Mount Mary University, Mary Finger served in external relations roles at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee Foundation, and Cardinal Stritch University.
She is the recipient of a number of awards for community service and professional excellence, including several CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) and Telly Awards, and the Amiga Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Milwaukee. She has also served on several nonprofit boards, including St. Augustine College in Chicago and Journey House in Milwaukee.
A native of Chicago, Finger spent almost two years living, working and volunteering in Bogota, Colombia, South America. Fluent in Spanish, she worked in the bilingual education department for the Milwaukee Public Schools for several years. She has an adult daughter, Catherine Romero-Finger, who lives in Seville, Spain with her husband Antonio Pinto and their two children, Isabel and Bobby.
Mary Finger received her doctoral degree in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. As part of her commitment to equity in higher education, her dissertation, Limited Reach: The Role of Mission and Institutional Aid in Supporting Minority Students, explored the role of higher education institutions in financially supporting minority students. She also received a Master of Arts degree in Education, focusing on adult education, from Mount Mary College, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University in journalism and a certificate from the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management. She has taught courses at DePaul University, Mount Mary College, St. Augustine College, and Carroll College, and made presentations at national and regional conferences and workshops.
Finger is eager to play a leadership role in the larger community as well and help address the need for planned growth and economic development in southwestern Pennsylvania. She was appointed to the Boards of the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.