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2010 News Releases

Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan selected as 25th president of Longwood University

March 2, 2010

Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan

The Longwood University Board of Visitors has announced that Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan has been selected to lead Longwood University as its 25th president. Currently serving as Dean of the Academic Board at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Finnegan was the unanimous choice of the Board of Visitors during its special meeting held on campus March 2, 2010.

According to Rector Dr. Helen Warriner-Burke (Longwood Class of 1956), Finnegan was selected from an applicant pool of 124 candidates. "He brings a broad range of professional experience in higher education to Longwood, and he was our number one choice," Dr. Warriner-Burke said. "We are looking forward to welcoming him and his wife, Joan, to the Longwood and Farmville communities when they join us on July 1, 2010."

Barry Case, chair of the Presidential Search and Screening Advisory Committee, added, "This was a very open and inclusive search.  We made it possible for many of Longwood University's stakeholders to have an opportunity to review the final four candidates; General Finnegan was the clear first choice of the Longwood family.  I am delighted that the Board of Visitors unanimously selected General Finnegan as its next president."

As West Point's chief academic officer, Finnegan is responsible for the overall academic program for 4,400 cadets, including supervision of the activities, programs, personnel, courses, curriculum, and methods of instruction in 13 academic departments, as well as the Jefferson Hall Library and Learning Center. He allocates budgetary resources among these organizations; manages a $64 million budget; coordinates selection and assignment of almost 600 military and civilian faculty members; coordinates academic schedules and instructional facilities; and chairs the Real Property Planning Board and the Athletic Committee.

"I've been a soldier, a lawyer, an educator, and a leader, and I've experienced the difference that education makes in the world in settings as varied as the courtroom, the classroom, humanitarian operations in the United States and abroad, and even in war," Finnegan said Feb. 11 during a visit to Longwood to meet with the campus community.

Finnegan, 60, said that his imminent return to Virginia will be "like coming home" for him and his wife, Joan, a registered nurse. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and has taught at the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General's School co-located at the University of Virginia's law school. He has a law license from the Virginia State Bar and his wife is licensed to practice nursing in Virginia. Two of his brothers live in Richmond; five of his nine siblings have degrees from Virginia colleges and universities; his older daughter, Katie Finnegan Rucker, lives in Springfield, Va., and his younger daughter, Jenna Finnegan Bechen, lives in Highland Falls, N.Y., and is a James Madison University graduate. Finnegan and his wife also have four grandchildren. Finnegan's sister, Rosaleen (Rosi) Finnegan Shinsato, of Catonsville, Md., is a 1976 Longwood graduate.  

Prior to his current position, which began in 2005, Finnegan was professor and head of West Point's Department of Law for six years. While supervising a department of 15 instructors and four administrative personnel, he developed and implemented the first-ever majors program in law at the Academy. In his first position at West Point, in 1998-99, he was staff judge advocate/general counsel, serving as principal legal adviser to the superintendent, the dean, and the staff and faculty.  His involvement with campus activities at West Point earned him the nickname the "People's Dean."

From 1983 to 1987, Finnegan was at the Judge Advocate General's School, co-located at the University of Virginia School of Law. The last two years he was deputy director of academics after serving as associate professor of criminal law for two years.

Finnegan has served as the Staff Judge Advocate (principal legal adviser) with the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany; the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.; the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C.; and as a criminal prosecutor, later chief of administrative law, and later chief criminal prosecutor with the 8th Infantry Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. He has published articles and given presentations on military law, torture, and terrorism.

"I'm dedicated to learning, to education, and to service," said Finnegan, who has taught in Germany, France, England, Australia and Switzerland.

Finnegan has a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi national honor society. He has been honored with numerous military awards including the Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and other medals and ribbons.

Finnegan will succeed Dr. Patricia P. Cormier, who has served as president of Longwood University since 1996 and directed Longwood's transformation through a bold range of initiatives, including the conversion from college to university status, NCAA Division-I reclassification, and the completion of Longwood's first comprehensive campaign, which exceeded its goal of $32 million one year ahead of schedule. 

Dr. Cormier is quite enthusiastic about her successor.  "Patrick Finnegan is the right person at the right time for Longwood," she said.  "He will bring a new and fresh spirit to the challenges the institution will face in the future.  Given his solid background as chief academic officer at West Point, his in-depth experience in administration, and his expertise in friend and fund raising, he has all the attributes that are the foundation for success in higher education.  In my mind, he is a 'winner!'" Dr. Cormier's 14-year tenure ends June 30, 2010.

"General Finnegan, scheduled to continue in his highly successful tenure at West Point, was not looking for a job," said Rector Warriner-Burke.  "Through his Virginia ties, however, he discovered that Longwood was seeking its 25th president.  We are very lucky. He met all of the criteria that we had announced to guide the search. Having a national and international reputation, he brings additional experiences that were unanticipated."

"I was taken by Longwood's mission to create 'citizen leaders,'" Finnegan said. "My dad, Colonel John B. Finnegan, served in the Army for 32 years and was a great example of a citizen leader, as were my mom and my family. Using your talents in the service of others wasn't something that we really talked about a lot, but we lived it, and that legacy helped shape who I am, who I've become."

"I love the ideas of small classes and a community feeling," Finnegan said of Longwood. "This is the university with the feel of a small college. In fact, that's why my sister came here and why she liked it. She wanted to go somewhere where people knew her, and she knew them. And that's why she enjoyed it here so much."

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