William M. Finnin Jr., SMU’s chaplain and minister for 28 years, has announced his intention to retire effective Dec. 31, 2008.

Appointed by SMU President James Zumberge in 1980, Finnin founded the SMU Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist campus ministry. He also helped develop the University’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage and the Journey of Remembrance, a human rights seminar to the Nazi death camps of Poland.

Aside from Finnin’s many contributions to SMU’s programs and services, “it is the personal relationships and hours of pastoral care for which he will most be remembered,” wrote SMU President R. Gerald Turner in an e-mail to the University community. “During difficult times, countless numbers of students and their families, faculty, and staff have received an encouraging word, a warm and understanding spirit, and a strong shoulder.”

Finnin will be on study leave beginning July 1 and plans to remain active as a United Methodist minister after his SMU retirement. The search for a new University chaplain will begin later this summer.