Champlain College Honors President Emeritus David Finney's Legacy With New Sculpture, Renaming the Quad, and an Endowed $2M Chair

Audeamus sculpture on Finney Quad at Champlain College

BURLINGTON, Vt. (Sept. 13, 2014) - A new sculpture entitled "Audeamus," honoring former Champlain College President David F. Finney's "Let Us Dare" spirit, was unveiled Saturday afternoon overlooking the new amphitheater at the Res-Tri residential campus.

Champlain College President Donald J. Laackman hosted a special dedication ceremony Saturday for President Emeritus Finney, his family and friends to announce the naming of "Finney Quad" and the establishment of a $2 million Endowed Chair in his honor. The event was a surprise to Finney, who retired June 30 after nine years of leading the College.

"During his tenure, Finney emphasized academic innovation and entrepreneurship by creating strong partnerships with employers and businesses, establishing centers of excellence, and introducing the concept of global citizenship to Champlain students," said President Laackman.

"And we stand here today, in this beautiful quad, because of Dave's vision as described in the Master Plan for the College to create a residential campus. Nearly 500 students now call this home - and it is because of Dave's foresight," Laackman noted, looking out on newly opened Butler and Valcour Halls which opened August.

Finney positioned the College to become "the finest small, professionally and globally focused college in the United States" by 2020, and led the College through its Let Us Dare campaign, deriving from the College's Latin motto, Audeamus. In honor of this, the College worked with artist Chris Curtis of Stowe, Vt., to design a Vermont granite and metal sculpture to symbolize Champlain and Finney's ambitious vision, Laackman said.

Curtis submitted a sculpture design to the Finney Quad selection committee earlier this year and said he was proud to win the commission. "As I discovered more about Champlain and about Dr. Finney, who I had never met, I came to realize that he had been so successful during his time at Champlain because he had been very persuasive and able to recruit a large group of people into his vision," said Curtis. "I came to realize that I wanted to follow his lead, too. I really wanted to win the commission and make a sculpture that would be a permanent icon in recognition of his leadership."

Finney Quad dedication

Board of Trustee and former Board Chair Laura Dagan, speaking on behalf of Tom Cullins, explained the choice to name the Quad and decision to commission a new public art piece for campus. "Knowing that Dave didn't want a building named after him, a small group of the Champlain community embarked on a mission to find other ways to honor his accomplishments." Finney's wife, Sabine was even in on the surprise and helped to choose the finalists for the sculpture competition.

Located in the green space within the College's new Res-Tri residential community on the corner of Maple and South Willard Streets, now officially renamed "Finney Quad," the selection committee focused on a sculpture that would reflect Finney's passion for education, his drive for communication with students, faculty and staff, his elegance, personal character and his forward thinking, Dagan noted.

The 10-foot tall, stainless steel sculpture expresses the artist's idea of critical thinking made possible by dialogue, discussion and discourse with an underlying concept of boldness in education. Curtis achieved this by creating two abstract figures engaged in some sort of interaction or conversation, vague enough to invite interpretation, but explicit enough to be decodable by viewers, Curtis explained.

The College also acknowledged Finney's achievements during his tenure with the establishment of the David F. Finney Endowed Chair for the Future of Professional Education. An official citation was formally presented to Finney during his last trustee gathering as Champlain College President in June.

"Dave Finney has placed Champlain on a tremendous upward trajectory," said Board Chair Mary Powell, "His bold vision and drive to provide the most complete education is grounded in his passion for the life-long professional career success of our graduates."

"We are deeply grateful to trustees, past board members, the President's Cabinet, friends and the community members that generously contributed more than $2 million to fully fund this new endowed faculty position," continued Powell.

Finney led Champlain College through a period of dramatic growth from 2005-14. During his first year, the faculty passed a new four-year Core Division curriculum that took a broad-based interdisciplinary approach to traditional courses and set the stage for global education opportunities. The Life Experience and Action Dimension (LEAD) soon followed, offering life skill, community service, career management and financial sophistication programs.

Finney also established international campuses in Montreal, Canada and Dublin, Ireland, and successfully expanded the Burlington campus facilities with a focus on sustainability, earning the College national recognition. He expanded the graduate and online adult education opportunities and tripled undergraduate applications and student enrollment; he also strengthened financial aid and established new scholarship programs.

As a part of the Vision Innovation Passion Campaign, Finney secured a $10 million single gift - the largest ever - establishing the Robert P. Stiller School of Business. From start to finish, he supported Champlain's traditions while created new ones. Named "The Ideal College" by The Atlantic magazine in 2013, Champlain College surely benefitted from President Finney's audacious vision.

Read more about President Finney's time at Champlain College in the latest Champlain View magazine 

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit