Lots new, interesting at Lake Superior State University (drawing)Tuesday, May 29, 2012 by: SooToday.com Staff
LAKE SUPERIOR STATE UNIVERSITY
Finley takes helm of LSSU's College of Business, Engineering and Economic Development
SAULT STE. MARIE, MI – David Finley, Ph.D. was able to combine a love for challenging academic issues with a desire to return to his home state when he accepted a position as Lake Superior State University's new dean of the College of Business, Engineering and Economic Development at the beginning of the spring semester.
One often hears the tired cliché that a new staff member has hit the ground running, but in Finley's case, the saying rings true.
The former vice president of academic affairs at Trine University is charged with building upon the successes of the School of Engineering and Technology and its Product Development Center, steering the renovation campaign for the School of Business, and putting plans in place for enrollment growth in both schools.
He divides his time in offices in both areas of campus.
"This position is a unique opportunity to combine two loves of mine, engineering and entrepreneurship, in a place of which I am extremely fond," Finley told The Compass, LSSU's student newspaper. "My family loves to camp and hike and does many other outdoor activities, so we are thrilled to be here. It is an exciting opportunity from both a career and cultural perspective."
Finley grew up in the southern Lower Peninsula and attended Michigan universities.
He holds a bachelor's degree in atmospheric and oceanic science, and a master's degree in atmospheric science, both from University of Michigan, as well as a master's degree and doctoral degree in chemical engineering, both from Wayne State University.
He started his career in Ann Arbor as an environmental consultant but soon found his heart was in academia.
Shortly after earning his Ph.D., he took a position as chair of the McKetta Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Trine University in Angola, Ind. and continued through the ranks there.
"David's role here will be very challenging," said LSSU Provost Morrie Walworth. "Our School of Engineering and Technology has been very active in economic development activities, including the securing of an $8 million award from the State of Michigan and $1,225,000 award from the Economic Development Alliance to work with the City of Sault Ste Marie to create the SmartZone. Additionally, the school works with small-to-medium sized businesses on a variety of projects, and the PDC works with entrepreneurs on new product and prototype development.
"On the business side, the School of Business just kicked off a $12 million building renovation campaign," Walworth continued. "The school has had stable enrollment, but needs to grow and review the curriculum, adding new material for today's markets, and it needs to seek national accreditation. In some areas of study, the students out-perform students from much larger institutions on standardized tests…so the program is strong."
Finley noted that the renovated building will enable market-needs thinking to be supported by facilities such as an import/export center and securities trading laboratory.
Walworth said it is hoped that combining the two schools will create new synergism and opportunities for students, while enhancing the programs.
Finley said he has high hopes for collaboration between the two schools.
He said he wants to see groups of students and faculty exchanging ideas, future engineers providing designs and prototypes, and business students setting up companies to market them.
Plans are for the newly formed College to have a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, where multidisciplinary teams will design, develop, make prototypes, finance, market, pilot, manufacture, and distribute these products.
He said he also hopes to see LSSU offer business degrees with a foundation in engineering and, likewise, engineering degrees with a business foundation.
Finley has quickly familiarized himself with campus and is working with the Sault Ste. Marie community on new initiatives.
He and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation hosted the kick-off meeting of the new Sault Manufacturers Alliance in April, and he was also a keynote speaker for the Sault Area Chamber of Commerce second annual Economic Luncheon in April.
Also in the spring, LSSU and the Sault broke ground on an industrial "breeder" building in the relatively new Sault Ste. Marie SmartZone.
Once the school year is complete, Finley’s wife, Heidi, and their two children, Anna, 16, and Erik, 14, are eager to make the trek north to Sault Ste. Marie.
For more information on the LSSU College of Business, Engineering and Economic Development, visit LSSU's website and click on "Academics."
PHOTO CAPTION – Lake Superior State University's South Hall Renovation Project embodies new collaborative links between engineering and business, two schools that Lake Superior State University's David Finley oversees. This new $12 million facility – now in the design and fundraising stages – will provide a Center for Entrepreneurship where market-needs brainstorming can occur among students and faculty. South Hall will also include an Import/Export Center and a Securities Trading Laboratory. The Information Commons and multiple meeting spaces of the facility will foster idea interchange, and high-tech classrooms will ensure that students learn both the theory and current “tools of the trade” most expediently. More details will follow when the capital campaign's Web site is unveiled. (LSSU Rendering)