LOS ANGELES — When Tiger Club President Paul Finchamp ‘80 passionately describes his time at Occidental College, you can feel why he’s stayed so heavily invested in his alma mater more than three decades later.
He was a member of the basketball team from 1976-78 and an All-American with the football team in 1979 during an athletic career he calls, “pure joy.”
But it is his experiences and relationships outside the lines that make up his most cherished collegiate memories.
He jokes about he and his great friend Jeff Sanderson’s mischievous dorm-room days.
“When we’d find out what room we were in, we’d construct bunk beds that had a bar attached to it,” Finchamp said.
His face lights up when he talks about the once thriving “Noonball,” that pit chemistry professors against english majors in lunchtime pickup basketball games so competitive that some might go to blows in Rush Gymnasium.
“Noonball was almost an institution at the time,” he said.
And he gets emotional when he remembers the late Dean Ben Culley, who went out of his way to make sure Finchamp could get three good meals at the cafeteria despite his family’s financial struggles. Culley found out that Finchamp was sneaking into the cafeteria because he could not afford more than one meal per day. But instead of slapping his wrist, Culley, as he did for so many Oxy students during his legendary 40 years with the school, helped Finchamp get a need-based grant so he could eat.
The Huntington Beach native was so grateful for the college’s and Culley’s generosity, that he’s taken on that same sense of responsibility to make his experience possible for future generations of Tigers 32 years after leaving the bunk-bar behind.
“There’s a duty to every right and stewardship is part of it. We’ve been given so many wonderful advantages here, but a lot of that was paved by the generosity of others that made it possible along the way,” Finchamp said. “We have an endowment at the college that we need to grow. It’s only going to come with an understanding that there’s a great future that needs to be promised and delivered on.”
Since 2011, Finchamp has been the leader of the Tiger Club — a group of Tiger faithful who’s goal is to attract financial and moral support from former student-athletes, alumni, family, friends, administration and staff.
His leadership in the Occidental community is critical if Oxy is going to continue to upgrade its facilities, improve its overall SCIAC standing and enhance the unique NCAA Division III liberal arts student-athlete experience it has to offer.
“He’s a parent of a small liberal arts college recent grad, he was a student-athlete here himself and he’s been philanthropic since he left,” Oxy athletic director Jaime Hoffman said. “He’s a great spokesperson for our mission. He talks the talk, and walks the walk.”
Finchamp’s support for the college isn’t limited to athletics and goes back much further than 2011.
He’s been a member of the McMenamin Society for more than 25 years and he formerly served as the chairman of the President’s Circle.
“He has been a loyal alum over many, many years,” Occidental men’s basketball coach Brian Newhall said. “He’s obviously been huge for fundraising, but it’s his emotional investment that truly represents the fondness he has for Oxy.”
Finchamp has spent his professional career as a financial advisor with Pacific Advisors. He has two children that are no slouches as athletes. His son Trevor was recruited to play football at Occidental, but instead chose to attend Wartburg College in Iowa and his daughter Hannah is a three-time under-19 World Champion triathlete.
Finchamp is still a regular at Oxy’s athletic facilities and can be found adding to the thousands of mileage he’s put on Bill Henry track, or at Taylor Pool or on the tennis courts with Newhall.
“I’m not only grateful for the experiences, but for the people I still know and love,” Finchamp said.