- by Mount Saint Mary College
James Finn Cotter started his tenure at Mount Saint Mary College in 1963. He passed away early this year. A celebration of his life will be held at the college on May 1 and is open to the public

Mount Saint Mary College will honor the life and legacy of longtime professor James Finn Cotter on Sunday, May 1, at 2 p.m.

Cotter passed away on January 8, 2022, at the age of 92. 

The event will celebrate Cotter’s life and accomplishments with readings and prayer in the Chapel of the Most Holy Rosary in the Dominican Center, followed by a reception.

The Dominican Center is located on campus, 330 Powell Ave., Newburgh, N.Y. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please register at

Also at this link, donations can be made in his memory to the newly established Dr. James Finn Cotter Memorial Scholarship, which will be bestowed on students in need who are pursuing a degree in English.

For nearly 60 years, Cotter shared his knowledge and talent with the Mount campus, teaching students poetry and literature. A distinguished author and educator, his commitment to the growth of the college and its students was unwavering.

Known to his pupils as “Dr. Cotter” and to his many friends and colleagues as “Jim,” Cotter changed the lives of thousands of Mount students before his retirement from the Mount in the late summer of 2020.

“It fills me with joy to watch my students grow as they developed a love of poetry, literature, and scholarship,” Cotter said in a recent interview.

When he wasn’t teaching or aiding with administrative tasks for the college, Cotter delved into his own scholarly work. He was a celebrated translator of Dante’s Commedia, which he began on the backs of envelopes and scrap papers early one Christmas morning in the 1980s before his children woke up. Among a great many other publications, Cotter authored Beginnings: The First Twenty-Five Years of Mount Saint Mary College and A New Life: Learning the Way of Omega.

Outside of academia and his personal pursuit of wisdom, truth, and compassion, Cotter volunteered at the Newburgh Free Library; assisted as a Eucharistic minister for St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s; and wrote reviews of local plays and concerts for local newspapers. He also loved hiking and nature, often using his experiences outdoors as a base for his poetry and prose.

“James Finn Cotter’s legacy is truly part of the DNA of the college,” said Dr. Jason N. Adsit, president of the Mount. “We are so thankful to have had the honor of knowing this wonderful man and his memory will be cherished by all.”


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