He represents, in one swoop, the university’s past, present, and future: an alumnus, a staff member, and a doctoral candidate rolled into one. But it is Robert Snyder’s dedication to the university, within and beyond those roles, that has won the admiration of his peers, who this spring honored him with the Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award.
“I was really honored and touched that so many of my friends from my alumni class came, not to mention younger alums that I’ve worked with over the years,” says Robert Snyder, GWSB BBA ’95. “I am totally in awe of them and their accomplishments.”
The Jane Lingo award, given in April at the Alumni Association Awards ceremony, honors a faculty or staff member who also is an alumnus or alumna of the university. The award is named for Jane Lingo, CCAS BA ’46, who joined the University Relations staff in 1956. In 1964 she was promoted to assistant director of University Relations and served in that post until her death in 2007.
“Jane Lingo is more than just a name on an award to me,” says Mr. Snyder, who knew her as a GW colleague. “She was a model of grace and charm, could connect with everyone, and was a role model for us all.”
Mr. Snyder, who is the executive director of planning and outreach in the Division of Student Affairs, was nominated for the award by his peers, who felt his service to the university goes above and beyond the call of duty. He has almost 20 years of experience in higher education, both at the University of Delaware, where he last served as assistant director of University Relations, and at GW, where he arrived in 2004.
He says his work allows him to bridge his different roles at the university. “There is a line [between the roles] but it’s very blurred,” says Mr. Snyder.
“Everyone here at GW, whether alum or not, is dedicated to helping students succeed. But I think I have a special responsibility as an alum to connect students to my own network and build those bridges.”
Mr. Snyder says his philosophy is to try to find creative ways to say ”yes” when addressing new ideas for helping students, seeing the value in opening doors wherever possible. He credits Fred Siegel, former GW associate vice president and dean of freshmen, for sparking his interest in a career in higher education when Mr. Snyder was still an undergraduate, and later for giving him opportunities to work at the University of Delaware and at GW. “You never know who you are going to talk to as an undergrad or even in your whole life,” says Mr. Snyder, “So treat them with respect and honor and maybe they’ll think of you when the time comes.”
Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, CCAS BA ’91, GSEHD MA ’94, EdD ’97, himself a past recipient of the Jane Lingo award, introduced Mr. Snyder at the awards ceremony, saying that Mr. Snyder is a “kindred spirit of Jane Lingo.”
“Robert is a GW guy through and through,” he said. “He hustles and he fixes a lot of problems. This is a well-earned accolade.”
“Jane was larger than life and I am so deeply humbled to receive an award that many I admire have received before me,” Mr. Snyder says. “But the key lessons I took when reflecting on Jane’s legacy are: Do what you love and surround yourself with the people who lift you up.”
“From opportunities, to new mentors and friends, and new adventures,” he says, “I really feel like there is no way to pay GW back for everything I’ve received.”
— Kelly Danver, BA ’14