The 1884-1885 academic year opened with Hugh M. Finnegan, S.J., (1843-1929) as president. He served only for one year. Fr. Finnegan taught science to the older students and arithmetic to the younger students. He organized the first choir at the College. In 1884, the College accepted its first out-of-state students, three boys from Iowa.
Fr. Finnegan was born in Monaghan, Ireland, and came to the United States with Jean-Pierre De Smet, S.J., in 1872. Fr. Finnegan was dedicated to missionary work. In 1883, while at Holy Family Parish in Chicago, he greatly assisted with the founding of the Catholic Order of Foresters (of Illinois), a charitable organization for widows and orphans. Most of his career was spent at Marquette University (Milwaukee) where he was a noted pulpit orator. He served on the board of trustees of Detroit College (now University of Detroit Mercy). Fr. Finnegan was prefect of Sts. Peter and Paul’s Church in Detroit at the same time future Creighton president Fr. Michael Dowling served as the church’s rector. When he died in Milwaukee in 1929, Fr. Finnegan was the oldest Jesuit in the Missouri Province.