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La Salle News

January 10, 2011

Like Father, Like Son: La Salle University Presents Peter Finley with Service Award Named after His Father, John Finley

It was a double “Finley” when
La Salle presented its annual award for alumni service to the University: the recipient is the son of the man whom the award is named after. Peter Finley was presented with the John J. Finley Award on November 19.

Incidentally, Finley has attended every ceremony when the award was presented – except the first time in 1962. “I was on (military) reserve duty,” said Peter Finley. “I guess this time I’ll have to be there!”

“The Alumni Association is pleased to present Peter Finley with John J. Finley Award,” said Margaret Kane, President of the La Salle University Alumni Association. “As the son of this award’s namesake, it is an extraordinary testament to the commitment and service that Peter and the entire Finley family have given to La Salle University. As a graduate, former faculty member and the now patriarch of the Finley family, Pete truly embodies the faith and zeal that St. John Baptist de La Salle spoke to in creating the mission of the Christian Brothers. It is a privilege to honor a life that has been truly lived by Lasallian values.”

Known as “Mr. La Salle,” John Finley devoted much time and energy to what was then La Salle College. His son, Peter, says that because of the education that his father received at La Salle, John Finley was able to lead a better life than had he not attended the school. John Finley worked for the Philadelphia Transit Company and eventually rose to a management position.

Growing up, Peter Finley’s parents frequently took him to La Salle football and baseball games.

While a student at La Salle, Peter Finley was in the pre-dental program, but was not doing well. Some Christian Brothers (the order that operates La Salle) encouraged him to switch to psychology, where under the tutoring of two professors, John Rooney and Thomas McCarthy, he thrived and went on to graduate school.

“I will be eternally indebted to them,” said Peter Finley. “They turned my life around.” Finley has invited both Rooney and McCarthy to join him at the ceremony.

“La Salle was where I grew up, when I did grow up,” said Peter Finley, who was graduated from La Salle College in 1953.

After earning his master’s degree from William and Mary College, Finley joined the Marine Corps. He said he enlisted because many of his classmates served in the Korean War while he received student deferments. “I wanted to do my part,” he said.

When his tour of duty was over, he stayed in the reserve corps, and then was asked to do special projects for the Marines, such as devising tests to screen candidates for which marines were best suited for guarding U.S. Embassies and the President of the United States at the White House and Camp David.

In the 1970s, Finley taught and later became superintendent of a school for special needs children. The school drew students from six southern New Jersey school districts.

Throughout the years, Finley has been a part of several projects at La Salle. He held a seat on the Alumni Association Board and has been a volunteer for the Phone-a-thon Annual Fund Program since 1960. Finley has also been a member/co-chair of every five-year class reunion; aside from 1958, when he was on active duty. He has also provided sport psychology consultations to the Explorer swim teams over the years, and is a supporter of La Salle baseball.

In addition, Finley is engaged in the La Salle University Psychology Department. He joined La Salle’s master’s program in Psychology, in 1998 through 2001, as an intern supervisor and coordinator of the Professional Development Team. He also received the Psychology Department’s Brother John P. Dondero Award, holds a position on the Psychology Department Advisory Board, and has been an active participant in the program’s colloquium series.