Dr. Frederick J. Finks, president of Ashland University since 2006, has made public his plans to retire in May 2015 and will transition into the role of chancellor at the institution in October 2014.
“I accepted the presidency in 2006 because I wanted to give back to an institution that had given so much to me. I also wanted to make a difference and leave Ashland a better place than what I found. I believe I have accomplished those goals and now I believe this is the right time for me to transition into a new role,” Finks said. “The Board is very supportive of this plan and my new ambassador role as University chancellor.”
As chancellor, Finks will spend most of his time and energy with major donors of the University. “My day-to-day responsibilities will be in fund raising and working to position the institution for a future campaign,” he said.
Lisa Miller, chair of the AU Board of Trustees, thanked Finks for his leadership and his 32 years of dedication to the University and Seminary.
“President Finks has skillfully guided the University through these tough times,” Miller said. “There is no one more dedicated to AU than Fred Finks and we are grateful that he will continue to be engaged as an ambassador for the University.”
Miller noted that in October of 2014 an interim president will assume the day-to-day administration of the institution.
“This individual will assist the Board of Trustees in continuing its comprehensive review of the University and forging our plan for growth,” she said. “A permanent president will be named at an appropriate time in the future. That timing is dependent on the outcome of the board’s review and allowing a search for someone to implement our vision for the future.”
Jack Miller, a Board of Trustee member from Wooster, also had high praise for Finks.
“President Finks has provided valuable integrity, leadership and insight as he led both the building and development efforts of AU the past eight years,” Miller said. “Fred and Holly have taken ‘Accent on the Individual’ to a new level with their personal relationships with so many AU students, alumni, friends and donors. They have set the mark high for the next AU president.”
Finks began his term as the 28th president of Ashland University on June 1, 2006. Prior to that, he had served as president of Ashland Theological Seminary since 1982.
Under his leadership, the University has engaged in an aggressive commitment to address the rising financial burden of students and parents, and this included the bold move in August to reduce tuition for full-time undergraduate students by more than $10,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.
Additionally, Finks helped develop a number of other programs that have addressed accessibility and affordability, including:
- a four-year graduation guarantee;
- 20 degrees that can be completed in three years;
- a policy lowering minimum graduation requirements from 128 to 120;
- a number of four plus one programs where students can earn a bachelor and master’s degrees in five years.
Finks also restored alumni and donor faith in the University’s mission, resulting in record financial support last year and more than $77.6 million of total giving to the University during his tenure.
Another highlight of Finks’ tenure was the acquisition of MedCentral College of Nursing in Mansfield. He then led the fundraising efforts for the construction of the state-of-the-art Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which opened for classes in the fall of 2012.
Other construction projects undertaken during his administration include the $23 million Athletic Complex, the Rybolt Academic Corridor, the Rybolt Greenhouse, the baseball stadium press box, the track and soccer press box, and Kates Gymnasium upgrade.
Many new academic programs that will have a positive impact on the future growth of the University have been developed under Finks, including the expansion of the RN to BSN online, application for the Doctor of Nurse Practice degree and the online Criminal Justice degree.
In addition, Finks reduced short-term debt from $19 million to zero by 2011, and reduced budgets and reorganized the University to become more efficient with fewer personnel.
AU Provost Dr. Frank Pettigrew commented, “Fred Finks has been a passionate visionary who has provided Ashland University with exemplary leadership for the past eight years. His genuine love for all aspects of the University is unrivaled and unlimited. It was through his vision and leadership that the University completed the acquisition of the MedCentral College of Nursing while simultaneously raising support for a new nursing facility and expanded nursing programs. Additionally, Fred’s success in development allowed the University to realize a long standing dream of having our own state-of-the-art athletic complex on campus. Fred’s legacy at Ashland University will be as someone who was able to honor our past while still preparing us for the future, better than any president has in several decades. I’m honored to have been able to serve with him.”
Described as a leader and organizer with strong interpersonal skills, Dr. Finks has been very involved in the community of Ashland, serving the Chamber of Commerce in a number of capacities, and co-chairing the Hospice Capital Campaign.
He was one of 17 people selected by the Ashland Times-Gazette as “People Who Changed Our Community.” He has received national recognition as one of the top 20 seminary leaders in the country and served as president of the Fellowship of Evangelical Presidents, an organization of 80 seminaries with a combined enrollment of 50,000.
Dr. Finks is an ordained minister of the Brethren Church and served as pastor of the Winding Waters Brethren Church in Elkhart, Ind., from 1972 to 1982 prior to coming to the Seminary.
He received a doctor of ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., in June of 1980 and a master of divinity from Ashland Theological Seminary in June of 1972. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Ashland University in 1969. Dr. Finks holds a tenured professor of leadership.
Dr. Finks and his wife, Holly, who is also an Ashland alumna, are the parents of two adult children and grandparents of five.