Role Model

Barbara Snyder transformed CWRU, creating future opportunities

Headshot of Case Western Reserve University Interim President Scott Cowen PHOTO: PAULA BURCH-CELENTANO

I first learned of Barbara Snyder when I served as one of the advisors to Case Western Reserve University's 2006 presidential search.

The trustees had asked four of usthree sitting university presidents, and one retiredto share our thoughts about higher education's future, Case Western Reserve University's needs and the kind of leader who would be a good fit.

Barbara sounded terrific on paper: prior experience here as an assistant professor, ample academic achievements and proven results as provost at The Ohio State University. She was even more impressive in person, with high emotional intelligence and clear priorities for the institution.

As chronicled in these pages, Barbara more than delivered on expectations. In my role as a fellow university president, I spoke with her now and again, and then more when I became a Case Western Reserve University trustee in 2015. She sought out varied perspectives, always listening closely and asking insightful questions. This approach helped her deliver exceptional results. Her decisions were better informed, and the people involved felt heardand valued.

Perhaps one of the best indicators of Barbara's impact can be seen in her successor, Eric Kaler. Formerly the president at the University of Minnesota, he brings a record of increasing research activity, philanthropic giving and graduation rates. I met him while president of Tulane University; he is smart, strategic and strongly committed to the mission of higher education. I know he would not have accepted this role if he did not think he could make a meaningful difference. Thanks to Barbara's efforts, Case Western Reserve University today is a place where he can.

Meanwhile, my charge is to manage COVID-19 risks while advancing our teaching and research. I am fortunate to work with the outstanding leadership team that Barbara assembled, as well as with our dedicated faculty and staff. Our students have demonstrated tremendous patience with the constraints this pandemic requires; I appreciate their strong sense of shared responsibility.

If this year has taught us anything, it is that we cannot predict what the future brings. What we do know is that this community will respond with integrity, energy and empathy. We have had a great role model.

Scott S. Cowen's signature

Scott S. Cowen
Interim President