Five Questions with Dean Larry Snyder

Dean of Potter College Larry Snyder

Lily Burris

Larry Snyder, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, sat down to talk about how things are going for Potter College and what’s coming up for the college.

Snyder has been the dean of Potter College since fall 2015, where he started as the interim and later became the official dean in spring 2016. Last year, Snyder was briefly forced to resign from 

the position under former Provost Terry Ballman. He was brought back to the position when acting Provost Cheryl Stevens came into her current position and asked him to return.

How’s the year gone for Potter College so far?

Despite all the events of last year, Snyder said the year has gone well for Potter College thus far. There is a good attitude among the faculty and students. People are anxious about the declining enrollment for WKU and the budget reallocations, “but it’s manageable, and everybody’s doing their job and working through it,” Snyder said.

What’s the biggest challenge Potter College has faced so far this year?

The biggest challenge is getting ready for the future.

“The university is appropriately ‘right-sizing,’ that’s the phrase we’re using around here these days,” Snyder said. “We’re right-sizing.”

This means figuring out what enrollment number is right for WKU to fit consistently with its mission and place. Departments and programs also have to find the right fit within the university’s mission and place.

“That’s a challenge, and so trying to figure out what’s the best way to get there with the least disruption,” Snyder said. Potter College also has to be careful with its resources and plan for growth at the same time.

What are the goals for Potter College for the rest of this year?

One goal for Potter College is to put in place the recommendations from the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation. Recommendations were made across the college, and programs designated for transformation made reports to the dean’s office by the end of October, Snyder said. From there, the process will continue to university review and implementation.

“Number two is ensuring our fiscal health,” Snyder said. Potter College had $1.2 million in budget reallocation from the last budget cycle. Potter College is working toward that goal and shrinking. “We’re managing that and not simply letting it happen to us,” Snyder said.

Where have you seen the most growth in Potter College this year?

There has been growth in different areas, Snyder said. Potter College had its largest incoming class of dancers ever, which Snyder said surprises people because they normally hear about growth in STEM and business fields.

“We’re having growth in the arts, which is an extremely good sign for us,” Snyder said. The criminology major is in growing and is now the largest in the college.

There’s also growth in communications majors like public relations and advertising.

“We have sort of pockets here and there, where we are seeing growth across the college,” Snyder said. “The idea for us, the trick for us is to figure out how to again manage that growth, sustain it and build upon it so we can expand that growth to other areas.”

How do you feel your students are doing this year?

Snyder said the faculty and department heads would know because they have more immediate contact with students on an everyday basis.

“At least the reports I’m getting is that students are thriving and seem excited to be here and progressing,” Snyder said. “They’re certainly doing good work, I know that.” If he had been asked when he was a regular faculty member he would know.

“I hope they’re well, and if they’re no well, I’d like to know about it,” Snyder said.

Bonus Question: Would you rather fight 100 white squirrel-sized Big Reds or one Big Red-sized white squirrel?

“Since I hate squirrels, I guess it’s gonna be Big Red,” Snyder said with a laugh.

News reporter Lily Burris can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @lily_burris.