Published on March 14, 2022 by Leighton Doores  

Although professor of teacher education David Finn will retire at the end of this semester, he anticipates that while his days in retirement may look a little different, the work will continue.

Before coming to Samford, Finn had always worked with children with special needs. He has worked in a clinical setting with infants coming out of the neonatal intensive care unit, he started a center in west Birmingham for children with special needs, and he taught elementary school students with multiple, profound disabilities. After completing his doctorate, he held teaching and clinical positions at the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa (Honolulu) and UAB.

In 1998, Finn was hired at Samford to develop a special education program and serve as the director for the Children’s Learning Center, a fully inclusive child development center on Samford’s campus for children of all abilities.

“It took eight years of planning and fundraising to open that center, and we had 100 children and about 25 staff,” said Finn. “It was just a wonderful time not just in my life but in the lives of the children, the parents and our incredible staff.”

Finn’s career at Samford also gave him the opportunity to help people and education efforts abroad as he was able to visit places such as Liberia, Jordan and Lebanon. He was involved in searching for a site for a Samford campus in the Middle East, he hosted workshops for teachers in Monrovia, Liberia, and developed conferences to optimize learning in child development, special education and administration. He wrote many programs and provided training to people in a war-torn country who often didn’t have power, but they were passionate about teaching. 

While Finn’s career has taken him all over the world, he considers Samford home and will miss what it has meant to him for 24 years.

“What I will miss the most are the people that I have had opportunities to work with, to laugh with and to cry with,” said Finn. “I may find myself sneaking back into some buildings or going to the caf for $2 day or something like that because it’s truly the special place behind the gates.”

Finn plans to continue working on behalf of children with special needs through serving on the formation board at his church, serving as a board member for Spring Valley School and staying involved with programs that serve children who are on the autism spectrum. Finn also plans to make time to work on his mystery novel, continue disaster relief efforts and spend time with his large family, which includes many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

“People ask me what I am going to do when I’m retired and I say the same thing I’ve been doing for 45 years,” said Finn. “It won’t be at Samford, unfortunately, but it’s time for me to start a new chapter and I’m looking forward to it.”

We invite you to join us in celebrating Dr. David Finn and his tremendous investments in the life of our Samford family by making a gift in his honor to the School of Education Learning Enhancement Fund. To make a gift in honor of Dr. Finn, please click here.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.