Respected educator and administrator Lee Snyder, PhD., will serve as interim president of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) beginning July 1, 2016. Her appointment comes as President Loren Swartzendruber retires after a 13-year tenure and more than 35 years in Mennonite higher education.
With the announcement of the appointment, the Presidential Search Committee also reported that the presidential search is proceeding as scheduled. The interim arrangement is expected to last no longer than Dec. 31, 2016, and will allow for adequate transition time for EMU’s next president.
“Dr. Snyder is a well-respected administrator and church leader known for her commitment to Mennonite Church USA,” said Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency and ex-officio member of the search committee. “We are grateful she has accepted this call. She joins a strong group of professionals in the president’s cabinet to carry on the vision of EMU as the search for the long-term presidential appointee moves forward.”
Snyder brings a lifetime of service to Mennonite higher education to the interim role. From 1996 until retiring in 2006, Snyder served as the eighth president of Bluffton (Ohio) University.
Previously, she was vice president and academic dean for 12 years at EMU. Snyder, who holds a doctorate in American and Victorian literature from the University of Oregon, came to EMU in 1974. Until 1982, she taught part-time in the humanities and in English, and was an assistant in the dean’s office. She was named academic dean in 1984 and then assumed the responsibilities of vice president as well in 1987.
After retiring from Bluffton University, Snyder returned to EMU to serve as interim provost for the 2008-09 academic year.
“This arrangement is in many ways the best case scenario,” said Board of Trustees chair Kay Nussbaum. “Our timeline for naming EMU’s next president is on track and an interim arrangement will allow for a smooth leadership transition. In addition, the institution will benefit greatly from the experience and wisdom of Dr. Snyder, who has devoted a lifetime to Mennonite higher education and is uniquely equipped to lead EMU during this interim period.”
A native of Harrisburg, Oregon, Snyder attended EMU for one year and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon. Later she earned a master’s degree in English literature and linguistics from James Madison University and returned to University of Oregon for her doctorate.
Snyder and her husband, Delbert, taught in Nigeria from 1965 to 1968. Her many board and association assignments include: moderator of Mennonite Church USA, chair of the China Educational Exchange Board, chair of the Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA and a member of Mennonite Health Services Alliance Board of Directors. During the 2014-2015 academic year, she served as interim provost at Goshen (Indiana) College. She has also held brief assignments in Asia and Latin America.
Snyder and her husband, who have two adult daughters, now divide their time between Salem, Oregon and Harrisonburg, Virginia. They are members of Community Mennonite Church, in Harrisonburg, and associate members of Salem Mennonite Church in Salem.