Dr. Finnegan is professor and dean of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health since 2005. He joined the faculty in 1986, pursuing a research program in media communication and public health and community health promotion campaigns emphasizing social structural impacts on health knowledge and other outcomes. He holds degrees in English and mass communication from the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota.

From 2013 to 2015 (March), he served as board chair of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).