Getting to know the interim president, Dr. Deborah Snyder
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
Out with the old, in with the new; getting her foot in the door
Dr. Deborah Snyder took over the presidency of SC4 on April 1, following the resignation of former SC4 president Kevin Pollock. Snyder’s definition of an interim president is, “someone who is serving for a finite time period.” While the best-known title is ‘interim president’, Snyder said “my contract does say I’m the president of SC4 and the contract period is for 12 months.”
On Jan. 19, Pollock announced his official resignation to SC4 and that he would be out the door by March 31. When Pollock first ran, Snyder had been contacted by a member of the board to run for president but, due to having recently been crowned Dean of a business school section of Strayer University, she had to decline.
“So this board member, believe it or not, remembered this conversation and called me out at my college in California and said ‘Our president has just resigned and he is taking a new position with another community college in another state. We need an interim president. Is this something you’d be interested in?’ And at that point, I said yes.” Snyder said.
While Snyder referred to herself as being “kind of like that top person where the buck stops,” she also openly says she has other bosses as well. “The board members are my bosses,” said Snyder.
When asked if she planned on running for president after her contract expired, Snyder simply answered, “I’m here to do the best job I can as long as they want me to serve.”
Snyder’s plans and thoughts for SC4
Snyder has been in office less than a month, and has let it be known she does not want to make rash or uncalculated decisions. “When you’re a new president, it’s hard to come in and throw the baby out with the bath water, and that certainly isn’t my intention,” said Snyder.
Snyder added that, “any plans that would be evolving would be based on the fact finding that I’m doing here now.”
Before making any future plans, Snyder said, “what I’m doing now is trying to meet with as many people internally and externally from stakeholders, faculty, staff, students, to people in the community, and people on the Foundation Board to really find out what they think. That will help me form any plans I might have with moving forward in the future.”
Snyder does have a particular goal in mind and stated, “One thing we know we need to do is improve enrollment. We have fewer students now than have had in the past. So certainly that is something that is on my radar. We’re the community’s college. So, to me, I really have to look at planning from a community prospective.”
“I’ve asked the question ‘is this a done deal?’. The answer I got was yes. It’s already been voted on by the board, the city has agreed to sell us the building. My job, as president, is to move forward and help the communication go forward with all this.” Snyder also added, “I still think we need to do a better job of communicating such as what are we doing, what our plans are.”
With a smile on her face Snyder said, “I think people will be very pleased with what the college has planned to do.”
The Pavilion, which will be renamed SC4 Fieldhouse, is planned to be the home for the college’s athletic teams. The Pavilion/Fieldhouse will also be open for community use, and host youth and high school athletic tournaments, camps and other events.
Residence and a notable achievement
Snyder, while working and living out in California, still owned a house in St. Clair County. “We’ve had a home, up on Gratiot, for 11 years. We renovated a small cottage on the lake after our daughters graduated from high school. We decided to come home,” Snyder added that, “there’s no place like Port Huron, it’s a wonderful place to live.”
Many people have a notable achievement that brings pride to themselves, and Snyder is no different. “My most notable achievement is getting my education, particularly my doctorate. Much like a lot of the students at a community college, I worked when I went to school and I never didn’t work. It took me 10 years to get my undergraduate degree, 8 years to get my master’s degree, and 7 years to get my PhD. But it’s because I was driving downtown to Wayne State, I was raising kids, feeding horses in my back yard because I used to have horses way back when. And goats, rabbits, dogs, cats; we had a menagerie.”
Snyder went on to say, with some laughs, “We lived in Romeo when our girls were growing up. We did have some acreage; we lived right behind an apple orchard. We pretended to be farmers, I had a garden, but certainly serious farmers would have rolled their eyes at us. It was a wonderful environment to raise our children in.”
Changing SC4 and building more trust
“I’d like to be instrumental in building more trust. Trust with the community, the internal community. That’s what I really hope to do. It’s not to say there is a problem now, but I think that it’s important to build trust and have everyone understand we are all part of the same team,” Snyder said when asked how she would like to change SC4.
Snyder also stated, “Together we can do many things that we can’t do as individuals and I can’t do anything without the rest of this team.”
In relation to her notable achievement Snyder said, “Education opens doors. It does it for me, it does it for you, and it can do it for anyone. Education is key. Go as far as you can.” Snyder added, “I’m a listener and an important part of my job is to make sure I hear from students, hear from faculty, and I hear from staff because that is the only way I can make good decisions.”