A new student centre at Simon Fraser University will be named after a 98-year-old former biology professor who spent nearly 40 years after retirement advising thousands of students.
The Thelma Finlayson Centre for Student Engagement will be unveiled in the Maggie Benston Centre at the Burnaby Campus on Oct. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. in MBC Room 2000, with Finlayson in attendance.
"The centre is fittingly named, given Finlayson's boundless generosity and compassion towards students as a volunteer advisor," said Rummana Khan Hemani, director of Student Success, in a recent press release.
Finlayson helped establish SFU's first academic advising centre and worked with staff to support students' welfare and academic success.
The new centre will provide a highly visible, central and welcoming space where students can receive personalized information, guidance and advice on academics and co-curricular learning opportunities.
"Most students just want to find someone who'll listen. Often when students begin university they feel lost, they're away from home, everything is different, and it's not always easy to cope," said Finlayson, who graduated with honours from the University of Toronto in 1936 and was one of the first female scientists to work with the federal government's research branch. She received a YWCA Women of Distinction award in 2007 and an honorary degree from SFU in 1996, and is also a member of the Order of Canada.
A renowned entomologist and a founder of SFU's pest management program, Finlayson made twice-weekly post-retirement trips to the Burnaby Mountain campus - by taxi when she could no longer drive - until three years ago when, at 95, she was no longer physically able to do so.
She said students today need help "more than ever."
"Helping others makes me feel good," she said, "I've always thought more about others than myself. I've just never doubted doing that. I was born that way."