S.O.A.R. is an orientation program at Springfield College that is held over the summer for incoming freshmen. It is a day of icebreakers, getting to know new people, and the start to a new chapter in your life.
Many students walk away from S.O.A.R. saying, “I cannot wait to come back here in the fall.” Springfield’s new Vice President of Student Affairs Shannon Finning felt the same way as the newbie on campus; she was ready to go.
“Being here for S.O.A.R allowed me to see and be a witness to a lot of things before I was officially in meetings and my office,” said Finning. “That got me really hyped in a way. I could not wait to be here for real.”
Springfield College President Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper announced that Finning would be named Vice President of Student Affairs this past spring.
As Vice President of Student Affairs, Finning wishes to create the greatest possible student experience. She will use her knowledge and experience to lead campus recreation, student activities, orientation activities, the counseling center, career services, housing and residence life, and many more departments that contribute to the great life of a Springfield College student.
She hopes to create an environment that promotes learning and living for our students.
When selecting a college, a home for at least the next four years, many students talk about “fit.” Is this college the right “fit” for me? Does it have the tangibles and intangibles to set me up for success and happiness?
Finning thought a lot about fit while making her decision, too, as another school had offered her a similar position.
“When I came to campus in April, there was great energy and I really got a sense that this was a place where the mission really resonated with me and that everyone on campus understood that mission,” said Finning. “It just felt right.”
Finning loves students and has a great desire to meet and interact with every student possible. She believes that creating quality relationships with students as individuals is very important.
Finning is working hard to get to know as many students as she can. Prior to talking with me, senior quarterback, Tim O’Brien was walking out of Finning’s office. You can find her in Cheney talking with students or in the student union interacting with new faces.
“I want to get to know students, and not just the students who are the highest achievers and the students who are really struggling. I want to get to know the whole of our students,” said Finning.
She expects nothing short of excellence for herself and her staff at Springfield College, and she is confident that with the tools and programs that Springfield College already has set in stone excellence will come.
“I want this to be the premier student affairs division in the country. I don’t want to say ‘in division 3,’ or, ‘in the north east.’ I want to be a model for other programs that provides its students with the best possible experience.”
Something that Finning has realized since being on campus is that the faculty is very aware that students learn in environments other than just the classroom. That does not happen on every campus and she believes that is one of the best things about Springfield College.
However, there is still room for improvement.
“I want to further build on those synergies and partnerships to really take it to the next level to have that connected learning across campus,” Finning said.
According to springfieldcollege.edu, Dr. Cooper was confident in her decision right from the get-go.
“I am delighted that Shannon will be joining the leadership team at Springfield College,” said Cooper. “Her extensive background in student affairs, coupled with her engaging personality, will make her a great addition to the Springfield College community.”
Finning graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from Bryant University and then went on to get her Master’s in education and doctorate in educational leadership at Bridgewater State University and Clemson University, respectively.
She was previously an Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students at Clemson and the Dean of Student Affairs at Babson College. She also spent time as the associate Dean of Students at Drexel University.