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As a member of Omicron Delta Kappa I have the distinct honor and privilege of presenting the “All Together One” award to Dr. Sara Finney.  There is no question Dr. Finney truly deserves this tremendous accolade.  She embodies the all-together one spirit at JMU in all that she does.  She consistently builds community, inspires others, and works toward the common good. 

Dr. Finney has a dual appointment in the Center for Assessment and Research Studies as an Associate Assessment Specialist and an Associate Professor of Graduate Psychology. She has taken an innovative approach to engendering faith and excitement in her specialty, Assessment Programming.  Due to Dr. Finney’s assessment work, we know students are developing as enlightened individuals from intentional programming in our learning communities, freshmen are thriving from the orientation program, and the occasional delinquent student is learning from his/her mistakes through judicial affairs sanctions.  Dr. Finney has left an everlasting impact on numerous other student-focused programs at JMU.

Dr. Finney is a leader among the institution’s faculty.  She is ranked by scholastic peers as among the top 1% of researchers in her field.  Faculty members often seek out her consultation in some of the most technically challenging work being conducted on campus.  She is an expert and has a passion for her Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) course, which all her students rave about.  Since at JMU, she has written many scholarly research articles, noteworthy for their clarity and intuitive nature. 

Distinguishing herself from other faculty at JMU, Dr. Finney is an advisor in the graduate Assessment and Measurement in Psychology PhD program, and in the graduate Psychology Sciences Master’s Program.  She is an outstanding mentor and encourages her students to become life-long learners. She inspires her students with her contagious enthusiasm and unique pedagogy.  From those that wrote her nomination, “In addition to being a phenomenal advisor, Sara is, hands-down, the best teacher we have ever had.”

Dr. Finney has left an everlasting impact on her students. The nominators have also provided ODK with several first hand accounts from JMU alumni about Dr. Finney’s influence on them.  These students have gone on to become successful professionals within their fields owing much of that success to Dr. Finney.  One inspired alumnus wrote, “She is always willing to go above and beyond what it takes to help students learn and grow.  Many times during my graduate career she gave me more responsibility than I thought I could handle. But, it was those experiences that allowed me to shine and develop self-confidence in my abilities.  The skills that Sara teaches go beyond research methodology and statistics.  They are the skills that allow graduates of the Masters and Doctoral programs to succeed.”

In the words of the nominators who state it best, Dr. Finney is a “dedicated mentor, a compassionate friend, an enthusiastic leader, a diligent professional, and selfless individual”.  Dr. Finney is the “All Together One” philosophy. On behalf of Omicron Delta Kappa, James Madison University, and all those whom she has left her impact. I am pleased to present Dr. Sara Finney with this year’s All Together One Award.

Written by: Stephen DePasquale

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