Champlain College Announces Retirement of President David F. Finney in June 2014

BURLINGTON, VT. (April 8, 2013)— Champlain College President David F. Finney announced today he will retire next year. Finney, who has served as president for eight years, will retire on June 30, 2014.

In announcing his plans to retire, Finney, 60, expressed his confidence in Champlain's ability to remain a leader in higher education and continue building on its unique academic experience.

In addressing the College community Finney said, "Through you, I believe we offer the most complete academic experience available today in higher education. The combination of a focused professional major combined with a rigorous interdisciplinary liberal arts core along with education in specific life skills areas is unique."

"Champlain has always emphasized giving its students the knowledge, tools and resources to thrive not just in their first job after graduation, but throughout their careers and lives," Finney said. "Our faculty and staff are professionals who remained committed to excellence in the face of dramatic challenges facing higher education, and so I would expect the Champlain philosophy to grow and flourish with the next president."

Champlain has been acknowledged for leadership in interdisciplinary education and offering students applied and experiential education in the context of career development and life skills.

Finney said the goals he brought to the College have been achieved or are well on their way to being accomplished. "As a result of your dedication, Champlain College is a significantly stronger institution than it was a decade ago," he told the campus community gathered in Alumni Auditorium Monday morning.

During his tenure, Finney has focused on academic innovation and the spirit of entrepreneurship to create strong partnerships with Vermont employers and businesses; built centers of excellence in emerging fields of study; and brought a global citizen ethos to the student experience.

Since 2005, Finney — the College's seventh president since it was established in 1878 — has led the private, career-focused college in the historic Hill Section of the city through a period of dramatic growth and met economic challenges brought on by the Great Recession.

Among his accomplishments at Champlain College:

  • Nearly tripled freshmen applications and increased enrollment numbers
  • Established numerous study abroad opportunities including new campuses in Dublin, Ireland and Montreal
  • Expanded campus physical facilities with a focus on sustainability
  • Led the College to numerous awards and high rankings for programs, faculty and facilities
  • Strengthened financial aid and established new scholarship programs
  • Worked with business and state leaders to help strengthen Vermont's economy
  • And significantly expanded graduate programs and online adult education opportunities.

Under Finney's leadership, the College last year received a transformational $10 million gift — its largest ever — from the Stiller Family Foundation and named its Division of Business as The Robert P. Stiller School of Business.

He also spearheaded the creation of an integrated liberal arts Core curriculum, developed a ground-breaking Life Experience & Action Dimension (LEAD) life skills and financial sophistication program, doubled the number of full-time faculty, and oversaw an operating budget that nearly tripled in size over eight years. Throughout Finney's tenure, the College has continued to try to find ways to strengthen Vermont's economy.

Champlain Provost Robin Abramson observed that "Dave took what was already a strong academic program — one that has always been committed to preparing students for careers since our founding — and brought it into the 21st century enabling us to adapt to the increasing pace of change in the classroom, workplace and our everyday lives."

"It has been the professional privilege of my life," Finney said, "to serve Champlain for nearly a decade. It has been remarkable to witness the changes that have occurred and I am very thankful to have been a part of it all. There is a wonderful momentum here that gives me great confidence about what is ahead for the College with a new president."

"I am especially gratified that even as the College has undergone profound, sustained change, it remained firmly rooted to its values and mission, and that is a tribute to the faculty, staff and trustees. Much about Champlain is highly distinctive, but in my mind, nothing more so than this commitment to mission to be the finest small, professionally and globally focused college in the United States," Finney added.

Search for New President Underway

Champlain College Board of Trustees Chair Laura Dagan said the search firm of Storbeck Pimentel has been hired to assist the College in its search for Finney's successor. Board of Trustee member Scott Carpenter, director of Wealth Management and Private Banking at People's United Bank, will chair the search committee consisting of eight Trustees and leadership representatives from faculty, staff and student government.

"Dave has been an extraordinary leader, mentor and friend to many across the entire Champlain community," said Dagan. "His positive impact on our curriculum, our physical plant and Champlain's broader reputation with alumni, employers, parents and prospective students has been enormous. We are looking forward to finding a new leader who can take Dave's foundation and propel Champlain to new heights. The Board of Trustees and I are confident that this opportunity will be very attractive to superb candidates."

"Dave has been instrumental in taking Champlain to the next level of excellence. It is always difficult to say goodbye to a great leader and friend, but we are committed to continuing the tradition of strong leadership for Champlain in seeking the next president," added Carpenter.

Looking Ahead to 2014

Finney made it clear that there is still plenty of work to complete in 15 months ahead, with special focus on the Champlain 2020 strategic plan. Construction on two new residence halls on campus is slated to begin this month; fundraising efforts are continuing for a new Communications and Creative Media building scheduled to break ground in 2014; and plans to expand the reach of online education and business partnerships in Vermont and beyond are moving ahead.

Finney, who has a doctorate from Columbia University's Teachers College, came to Champlain in 2005 after serving as Dean of New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies and Vice President of Enrollment Services. Prior to that, he was Director of Admissions at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He is currently the President of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges and is active in several other Boards and organizations. He replaced Roger H. Perry who served as Champlain president from 1992-2005.

Finney plans to split time between Miami, Florida and Vermont after he retires, he said. Finney is married to Sabine Zerarka and has two grown daughters, Lauren and Heather.

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