Vol. 38, No. 18
By: Richard Gillette
Snyder took on tough university challenges
Provost leaves for Case Western Reserve
Described as having boundless energy and being the “great collaborator,” Barbara Snyder will leave the university later this month to become Case Western Reserve University’s first woman president.
A quick warning to Case Western Reserve’s faculty and staff: Don’t expect her to sit around when she arrives in July. Snyder, who served as Ohio State’s executive vice president and provost for the past four years, said she expects to do what she knows best — “dive straight in.”
“Just when you think you’re at the same energy level, she kicks it into another gear,” a colleague said about Snyder.
But Snyder’s drive and commitment went beyond the physical exertion required to meet the needs of the university as she led the Office of Academic Affairs, colleagues said.
“Her unbelievable energy is not only constant physical motion, but it is constant intellectual motion and that is where this university has benefited so greatly,” Board of Trustees Chairman Gilbert Cloyd said. “She really does take a pioneering spirit to academics, constantly improving and stretching our approaches to education. She takes on tough challenges that many people would shy away from and she has an excellent collaborative way to move things to completion.”
Starting as an associate professor in the Moritz College of Law in 1988, Snyder spent two years as vice provost for academic policy and human resources. During that time, she also served for seven months as the interim vice president for university relations before becoming provost.
To most, her rise as a senior administrator at Ohio State was not surprising. She undertook and accomplished a number of important goals for the university, colleagues said.
“She is enormously energetic and remarkably bright, so that she thinks clearly and can keep the details of multiple issues straight all at the same time. This has made it exciting and rewarding to work on projects with her. And it’s very helpful that she has a good sense of humor and is nearly unfailingly pleasant,” said Martha Garland, vice provost for enrollment services and dean for undergraduate education.
Snyder’s most important initiatives as provost were reform of the undergraduate curriculum, quality of life policy improvements for faculty and staff, the push to improve graduate education and the Targeted Investment in Excellence initiative, which promises to advance the university’s research agenda.
“Barbara’s list of specific accomplishments is lengthy and incredibly important. Her most lasting mark, however, will be the way of leadership that she modeled for others. She is a leader who has no hidden agendas, is totally honest, truly collaborative, respectful of others and strives to arrive at solutions that are as much as possible win-win situations,” said Deb Ballam, associate provost for women’s policy initiatives and The Women’s Place director.
Snyder was able to accomplish the major reforms and proposals she initiated for the university before she left, and with that comes a sense of accomplishment, she said.
“To be honest, certainly we planned to achieve every goal, and we set out a timeline and put implementation strategies in place so that we would get everything accomplished. Did I plan that it was all going to come to closure in these last couple of months? No, I’d hoped that those things would come to closure sooner. They took longer, but they did get done before I left,” she said.
Her push for quality-of-life policy reforms — such as parental leave, extended compensation for faculty professional leaves and improved graduate associate benefits — left an impression on many.
“I think the quality-of-life issues were so important because faculty and staff are our most precious assets and when we support their success, that leads to the university’s success, ” Snyder said.
A highlight of Snyder’s time at Ohio State was the University Senate’s vote in May, after three years of negotiations and university-wide effort, to reduce to 181 the number of hours needed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
“It was so rewarding because all the colleges with undergraduate programs pulled together, and the support we got from the deans and the students. It was really a great example of that spirit of collaboration at Ohio State,” she said.
Other special occasions Snyder recalled were the Board of Trustees’ approval of sponsored dependent benefits, paid parental leave and the beginning of the library renovation.
Leaving Ohio State where she received her undergraduate degree, Snyder will return to Case Western Reserve where she began her academic career as an assistant professor in the university’s law school in 1983.
“I really have loved being part of this community,” she said. “We have a great spirit here, and I’ve enjoyed sharing that with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. It’s amazing.”
That attitude is what her colleagues said made her a great leader.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Barbara because she has great integrity, shares the university’s values, is really smart and is kind to each individual. What luck to have had her as our provost for these years,” said Nancy Rogers, dean of the Moritz College of Law.
Joseph Alutto, Fisher College of Business dean, will replace Snyder as interim executive vice president and provost