Gloria Finley, affectionately known as “Ms. G” by students and colleagues, began working for Auburn University in 1985 as an administrative associate. For most of those years, she dedicated her career to the department of Student Affairs as a business coordinator, specifically within Student Involvement.
Finley brought knowledge and stability to student organization business operations, and her kind and generous spirit made her special and widely known by students and colleagues. She worked closely with members of Auburn’s Student Government Association, or SGA, and the Aubie program on budgeting, purchasing and financial decision-making.
Although Finley lost her fearless fight against cancer in February, she will forever be remembered through a gift made in her name by former SGA President Jonathan McConnell ’03. To celebrate Finley’s life and her dedication to Auburn, the front desk in the Office of Student Involvement was named The Gloria Finley Front Desk, or The Ms. G Front Desk, on Friday, Sept. 24.
Bobby R. Woodard, senior vice president for Student Affairs, spoke at the ceremony and remembered Finley as a testament to what the Auburn Family looks like.
Corey Edwards, assistant to the senior vice president of Student Affairs, shared memories about his special relationship with Finley, which began when he was a student and continued as they later became colleagues.
Edwards reminded Finley’s family, current and past colleagues, and students in attendance, that her spirit continues to live throughout the office of Student Involvement. He praised Finley for building a close-knit Student Involvement office, with staff who are willing to step up at any time for one another. Finley’s legacy, according to Edwards, will forever be part of the department.
While Finley loved all her students, McConnell was easily one of her favorites. While their relationship grew during his time at Auburn, their bond strengthened long past his time as a student.
“She was one of the closest people to me,” McConnell said. “I would call her from the middle of the night in Iraq from a satellite phone just to hear her voice and have a few minutes to catch up.”
McConnell felt led to honor Finley because of how she poured her life into Auburn, her family and the many others around her.
Finley became a mother figure to many Auburn students, including McConnell, Edwards and Brad Smith, director of Student Involvement.
“She’d unapologetically let you know your hair or outfit wasn’t your best or she’d offer you unconditional love and support with a smile,” Smith said. “Years after graduation when I returned to work for Auburn, Ms. G became more than an Auburn mom or colleague. She was a best friend.”
Whether Ms. G was managing budgets, helping others or cheering for Aubie at the UCA Mascot National Championship competition, she did it with enthusiasm and care.
Amy Shugart, communications and marketing specialist for Student Involvement, recalled meeting Finley for the first time during her junior year of high school at the Mascot National Championship competition. Shugart was at the event to support her brother, who was a friend of Aubie.
Shugart described feeling instantly like one of Finley’s own and shared that Finley encouraged her to apply at Auburn. When Shugart came to Auburn, she was able to maintain and build her relationship with Finley, especially while serving as director of Aubie from 2011-2012.
“Ms. G was the glue that held the Aubie program together,” Shugart said. “She was our confidante, encourager and biggest cheerleader. She provided words of wisdom and witty one-liners, sometimes all in the same sentence. She kept us humble.”
Shugart credits Finley’s constant support and hard work for the success of the Aubie program today.
Melissa Irvin Howell, director of the Melton Student Center, worked with Finley for over 25 years. The two met when Finley joined the Student Affairs team, and their offices were in the James E. Foy Student Union.
“I remember the first day she started with us,” Irvin Howell said. “It was like a breath of fresh air had walked in with a beautiful smile.”
At the conclusion of the naming ceremony, Peyton Alsobrook, Student Affairs development officer, announced the Gloria Finley Endowed Scholarship, created to honor Finley’s legacy at Auburn. The scholarship will be awarded to an Auburn student serving in a leadership position who is in need of financial assistance. To date, $60,000 has been raised to support the fund.
To give to the Gloria Finley Endowed Scholarship, contact Alsobrook at firstname.lastname@example.org.