Finch Fieldhouse has served in a multitude of roles since its construction in 1959.
Over the years, the building has served as a venue for Michigan-born musical heavyweights Stevie Wonder and Bob Seger in the spring of 1969, national protests to end the war in Vietnam in the same year and routine commencement ceremonies, class registrations and military trainings.
Born in Howard City in 1902, Ronald Finch, fresh out of Rockford High School, would first set foot on Central Michigan University’s campus, then known as Central Normal School, to begin what would soon become an illustrious and lifelong career at the institution.
Majoring in physical education with a minor in biology, Finch attended CMU for nearly a decade.
By his graduation in 1932, Finch had earned a life certificate and an Artium Baccalaureatus (A.B) degree. In his time as a student, Finch further distinguished himself as an athlete, playing halfback and quarterback for the 1923 and 1924 football teams – then known as the Bearcats.
Finch also started as a forward for the basketball team and would set records as a sprinter for the track team.
Although Finch went on to coach football for Saginaw Arthur Hill High School, he was recruited to return to CMU in the fall of 1937 on the merit of his impressive coaching record at not only Saginaw but also Clare, Lowell and St. Joseph High Schools.
As head football coach, Finch racked up an impressive record of 53-18-1, a winning percentage of .736. Finch was eventually appointed as athletics director from 1940-42 and later, head of the physical education department from 1942-59.
Finch served as dean of the school of health until his passing in 1962, after more than 25 years of service to CMU.
On Oct. 20, 1962, a day after Finch’s birthday, the Health and Physical Education building was officially dedicated in Finch’s honor.
At the time of its construction, it was the largest building on campus and the second largest gymnasium in the state. Today, Finch Fieldhouse is still in regular use as home to the department of military science and the department of recreation and leisure studies.