Chief Financial Officer and Associate Director of Operations Keith Finan is currently approaching the end of his tenth and final year as a cherished member of the Deerfield community.
In his current position, Mr. Finan is responsible for planning, implementing, and managing Deerfield’s financial activities. Along with Head of School John Austin and the Board of Trustees, he is also part of the legal representatives for the school’s business activities and negotiations. As the Associate Director of Operations, he addresses crucial aspects of student life; whether it be facilities, security, dining, or risk management, and he strives to ensure seamless operations. Under his leadership, Deerfield Academy has weathered many challenges and embraced many positive changes.
Mr. Finan was also responsible for many campus renovations, from the addition of the von Auersperg Art Gallery and Elizabeth Wachsman Concert Hall to the modernization of the library. He also oversaw the constructions of the O’Byrne-Curtis dormitory, the D.S Chen Health and Wellness Center, and the current athletic complex. Six years ago, he worked to transform Johnson-Doubleday from an upper-class boy’s dorm to the current freshman Village. “[This change] has improved campus culture in a lot of ways,” he said. “Getting the freshman boys and girls to get to know each other in a shared area that is somewhat removed from upper-dorms helps form campus culture considerably.”
On August 29, 2011, Mr. Finan faced his first crisis at Deerfield when Hurricane Irene devastated the region and flooded the Lower Fields. “The water was so high it was over the top of the tennis court fence,” he recalled. “It was as high as the crossbar of the football post, and I watched the stand get lifted and floated all the way across the lower fields.” Unfortunately, it was also the weekend before students returned to campus. He and his team had to quickly find alternative spaces to host extracurricular activities. Despite the challenges they faced, Mr. Finan was able to use this crisis to catalyze the renovation of the Athletics Complex. “We started thinking about whether there are other places nearby that’s situated higher,” he recounted. “We started to replace the hockey rink since it was 40 years old and needed replacement, and we also needed an indoor turf field in case the fields will flood again, so we worked to build that as well.”
Mr. Finan has had to navigate countless other difficult situations. After Deerfield experienced a power outage from a snow storm, Mr. Finan and his colleagues worked to make sure all of the campus buildings had backup generator power in case of another outage. In another case, he proactively took preventive measures to improve fire safety with the addition of campus sprinklers.
The COVID-19 global pandemic brought the need for a multitude of campus changes and reparations, many of which Mr. Finan was responsible for carrying out. Mr. Finan reflected,“This year has been a challenge for everybody, and by everybody I mean the faculty, the senior team, the staff, and Facilities had to work like crazy because we created a situation where every student had their own room, and it was a drastic change as one third were in doubles.” His team swapped out most of the furniture, replaced desks with individual tables, and removed 2-3 person couches to encourage distancing. Additionally, the dining hall was also completely upended, and Mr. Finan’s team had to find a way to reorganize the building in order to follow social distancing protocols and allow students to get their meals in a safe fashion, eat, then leave for class on time.
To his colleagues, Mr. Finan is a man of dedication and grit. Ivory Hills said, “My work with Mr. Finan has been joyful in that I have always known that I could rely on him to have the students’ and Academy’s best interests at the heart of his work.”
“Many leaders are particularly effective at guiding their organizations through either crisis or calm, but few can do both,” Dr Hills added. “This balanced approach has been to our benefit, and I will miss him.”
Head of School Dr. Austin also expressed gratitude for his close colleague. “Mr. Finan has brought to his work not only a masterful understanding of the numbers and details, but also the spirit of a teacher and a deep understanding of what kids need to thrive,” he commented. “Most recently, I have appreciated, and all of us have relied on, his agility throughout the current crisis. His approach has been a model of comportment for his colleagues and staff.”
Additionally, Mr. Finan has played a crucial role in Dr. Austin’s acclimation to Deerfield. “Personally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Finan, as he was incredibly helpful to me as I transitioned into my role as head of school,” Dr. Austin said. “In addition to providing a broad and deep understanding of Deerfield, he introduced me to members of the local community. It was clear that he had put in considerable time building strong and invaluable relationships across the town.”
Mr. Finan explained that his most memorable experience of Deerfield came from the people and the sense of community present; he said, “the faculty and staff have a sense of community that is stronger than most other places.”