Andy Finn, Long Time #MasonCOMM Faculty to Retire

by Jennifer Shaskan

Andy Finn, Long Time #MasonCOMM Faculty to Retire

The Department of Communication would like to announce the retirement of Professor Andy Finn. While we will miss his daily presence in the department and his thoughtful discussions in the office between classes, we look forward to learning more about his upcoming projects and know that he will probably be busier now than he has before.

Lance Schmeidler, Director of Hiring and Scheduling, noted that “Andy has been my great friend and office mate for many years. He's always been there when I need help and we can always count on rigorous political debate and genuine conversation.” Both faculty have a great sense of humor and Schmeidler decided that Finn “should have more time for me now!” 

Another testament to Finn’s sense of humor happened about fifteen years ago and to this day, Finn has neither confirmed nor denied his involvement.  Cathy Wright, BA Program Director, reminisced that her “fondest memory of Andy was when he wrote an April Fools newsletter and put it in everyone's mailboxes. It was funny and pretty spot on! His retirement is well deserved, but he will be missed by many! Rock on, Andy!!”

Finn has taught many different classes while at Mason to include introduction to theory, research methods, small group communication, media theory, introduction to public speaking and an advanced public speaking course where the goal was to produce a commencement speaker for the May graduation ceremonies.  With over twenty years teaching at Mason, Finn has left his mark on thousands of students.

Finn is looking forward to retirement and the opportunity to dive into his interests outside of communication instruction. “I’ve got some commitments in the area of volunteering to do things, projects I want to finish, and I will start a second career as a professional speaker,” said Finn.  Fellow faculty member and friend for over three decades, Gary Kreps, Professor, stated Finn will “no doubt stay busy with all your exciting (ad)ventures, cutting-edge media programs, and passionate hobbies.”  He went on to note their friendship that spanned institutions from Rutgers to Mason.  Kreps concluded his praise by saying, “Congratulations on your retirement from the faculty at Mason! Rock on brother!”

Finn is well known for his love of music and attending concerts.  Warren Decker, Professor and Director of GMU Debate, recalls fond memories of “trips we made to Philly for concerts. Usually the Who. Going to concerts with Andy was a great experience and seeing U2, in Club seats at Fedex, for under 10 dollars was one of the best.  The memory of the concerts have faded but the trips to and from have not.”  Decker went on to say, “Anyone who has ridden with Andy knows his driving habits. If you are brave enough to ride with Andy you know you get there in record time. Short cuts through roadside rest areas were the most memorable, at about 50 MPH.”  Perhaps Uber and Lyft will not be in his retirement lineup.

While he will miss Mason, he hopes that his time here is characterized by the energy and passion he brought to his students in the classroom. Finn states he will miss the students most of all because they provide new perspectives on his other passion—music. Over the past 50 years, Finn has attended more than 1,000 concerts in theaters and arenas across the country. He claims his students have had an impact on the new acts he considers attending including Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Pink, Jay Z, and Drake. To this day however, his favorite concert has been Pete Townsend and the WHO. Finn is currently chronicling these adventures into a website and book to be published sometime soon.

Another long-time friend, Star Muir, Professor, commented on Finn’s ability to engage in a wide variety of topics.  Muir stated, Finn “has been the source of news, events and sport discussions since he first arrived. Of particular amazement has been the sheer number of concerts and musical events he has attended... on the cheap!”  Muir also noted that Finn has been a very active member of the department in several capacities.  He said, “Andy has been a stalwart and valued colleague who has undertaken a variety of service tasks on behalf of the department and provided a solid foundation of instructional excellence.”

A part of several committees through the years, Rodger Smith, WGMU radio faculty mentor described Finn as “a great mentor as I assumed leadership of the Teaching Evaluation Committee.”  Smith described Finn as “a positive person and a great resource for students.”  Ed Maibach, Professor, also noted Finn’s “relentless positivity and "can do" attitude” and acknowledged they “will be sorely missed around here.”  Maibach is sure that Finn’s retirement will prove “to be even more fun and rewarding than [his] amazing career as a professor. Given [his] attitude, I suspect it will be.”

Finn is looking forward to dedicating more time to radio talk show The Finner and Clark Expedition where he and his friend, John Clark, explore a new topic each week. Finn started doing radio shows in 1999 while teaching at the University of Kentucky and has been a part of several shows covering politics, technology, education, comedy, and policy since that time. Finn explained that his interest in radio is “just for self-expression and for the fun of it.” 

Numerous colleagues wished Andy the best as he transitions.  Chris Clarke, Associate Professor, hoped Finn’s days would “be filled with family, friends, and concerts (with excellent seats, naturally)” while Mallory Saleson, Journalism professor, said she will miss their interactions, “I'm sure you'll discover new avenues to meander along. I must say the 8 a.m. political "briefs" in the NEM used to help me wake up and face my first class. All the best.”

As parting words for our graduating students Finn states that everyone should become lifelong learners. “Keep reading things, keep studying things, pick up a hobby that takes you into learning things about life in the world. You never know when you’re going to able to use it but stay plugged in and stay informed about whatever interests you but keep learning things because you stop when you’re dead.”

#MasonCOMM #ThisIsMasonCOMM