One of things that drew Peter Finley, Ph.D., associate professor in the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, to NSU was an aspect that draws many students—the small class size. Finley wanted to teach at a college where he could learn the students’ names and develop a relationship on a more personal level because he believes each student should be a name and not a number.
“By the time I’m beyond the intro class and have students for the second or third time, I walk in and look around the room and visually take attendance and can go right into asking people how their summer was and what they have been up to,” said Finley.
Because Finley teach-es sport and recreation management, he also believes it is important to know what his students are interested in, what sports they play and who their favorite teams are. He thinks it makes students more interested in learning from him because they know there is a relationship between them.
This relationship is also cultivated outside the classroom in places like the RecPlex, where Finley works out alongside his students.
“In my field, it is important that I have a degree of physical fitness. If I stand in front of a group of people who are 18-22 years old and talk about the importance of athletics in people’s lives, it has to be a part of mine and I hope they have some respect for that,” he said.
Finley also loves human interaction, which is one thing that gets him out of bed and off to work every morning. He said he enjoys the process of telling stories, hearing stories and learning from other people’s lives.
“The most important thing is sharing information that I think will help people be more successful in the things they want to do. I want my students to have the opportunity to have the life they want,” Finley said.
“The biggest thing is the exchange of vital information that each class should deliver that translates to them being able to do their job better and have a happier, healthier life.”
One story Finley can tell his students is how one of his greatest hardships led to one his greatest opportunities. When he was a college athlete, he realized he wasn’t good enough to keep competing, so he chose to leave college athletics which left a void in his life.
Instead of moping around, he realized this was his opportunity to start coaching. Finley was a volunteer coach for a year and then became the head coach for cross country and track and field at the high school near Western Michigan University, where he received his bachelor’s in physical education and English.
Finley said, “If I didn’t have that experience I wouldn’t be here now and I wouldn’t have some of the interesting stories to share about my successes and failures. Sometimes we have to see the moment for the challenge that it is and the opportunity it should present. We have to go and make something new happen.”
Finley went on to receive a master’s in educational leadership from Western Michigan University and was a high school coach and physical education teacher. Five years after he graduated, he realized he wanted to continue teaching but with a more sophisticated clientele and in the topic area that most interested him — the affect sports have on our lives.
“I chose to leave one life and go back and get my Ph.D. so that this life that I wanted was accessible,” he said.
Finley and his wife sold their house in Michigan, moved to Colorado for three years so he could earn his Ph.D. in sports administration from the University of Northern Colorado.
“I look back on it and I’m glad we had the courage to make that decision at that time. I was 30 years old and that was a hard decision to just sell the house and start all over again. There was a lot of uncertainty to it, but I’m glad and I’m happy to be here as a result,” Finley said.