LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell faculty member Deborah Finch has been honored for her outstanding commitment to students with one of the University of Massachusetts system’s most prestigious awards, the Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Finch is a senior lecturer in UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business, which like the award, is named in honor of UMass Lowell alumni Robert Manning ’84, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, and Donna Manning ’85, ’91. Established by the Mannings in 2016, the prize is presented annually to one outstanding faculty member from each of the five University of Massachusetts campuses.
“I follow two incredible UMass Lowell Manning Prize recipients, Mathematics Prof. Steve Pennell and Engineering Prof. Donald Leitch, which makes me feel quite humbled to win,” Finch said. “One thing I’m most appreciate of is hearing from alumni who have sent me congratulatory notes telling me the impact I had on them as students.”
Most, if not all undergraduates in the Manning School of Business have felt Finch’s positive influence.
A native of Sandwich, N.H., who now lives in Lowell, Finch teaches Business 101 in the Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Department and directs the school’s First-Year Experience Program, which promotes student success among freshmen and transfers majoring in business through participation in peer mentorship, co-ops, the UMass Lowell Honors College and study abroad opportunities.
In addition, she mentors students in UMass Lowell’s Honors College and advises those who live in the Business Innovation Living and Learning Community on campus. Finch also teaches a freshmen seminar as a faculty fellow in UMass Lowell’s DifferenceMaker Program, through which she helps students develop entrepreneurial skills many use to go on to launch ventures in business and the community.
“Again this year, the Manning Prize honors one of UMass Lowell’s faculty all-stars. Deb Finch’s love of teaching and dedication to her students are evident every day and enrich our campus community in countless ways. We extend our congratulations to her on this well-deserved recognition,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney.
Finch credits UMass Lowell’s culture of achievement and the collaborative spirit among faculty for her development as an educator.
“I love seeing students make the transition from high school to college. The ‘a-ha’ moments when they understand new concepts are always exciting. I try to bring experiential learning into every class I teach because I believe students learn better that way. I also enjoy helping them find career paths and encouraging them to become life-long learners,” Finch said.
Finch was nominated for the award by Holly Butler, UMass Lowell’s director of entrepreneurial initiatives, who is one of Finch’s former students.
“She looks at each class and sees individual students, not a group of students, which can make all the difference as they learn,” Butler said of Finch’s teaching style.
UMass Lowell students also benefit from Finch’s leadership and years of experience in the nonprofit sector, according to Manning School of Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer. Finch is a director emeritus of the Lowell Association for the Blind and her understanding of nonprofit management and marketing is woven into the courses she teaches.
“She does a great job helping our students become part of the broader community and getting them engaged with nonprofits. She’s always looking for ways for students to be involved,” Richtermeyer said.
Finch is known as a “triple River Hawk” because she holds three degrees from UMass Lowell. She first earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration in 2003 and 2005. As she raised her family with her late husband, Chris, who was also a UMass Lowell graduate, she began working in the nonprofit sector while homeschooling the couple’s children. Those experiences led her back to UMass Lowell. In 2008, she began teaching a business course in nonprofit management and later pursued her doctorate in education, which she received in 2012.
Recently, Finch was honored along with the other Manning Prize winners at an event at the UMass Club in Boston.
“At UMass, we’re blessed with excellent faculty across all five campuses who are harnessing talent, curiosity and ambition to create the leaders of tomorrow. It’s very important to Donna and me that we acknowledge them for their efforts,” Robert Manning said.
Along with the Manning Prize, Finch received the 2018 Jacqueline F. Moloney Honors College Founder Award. Named for UMass Lowell’s chancellor, the award annually recognizes a UMass Lowell faculty member who has made significant and long-lasting contributions to the university’s Honors College and its students.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu