What we know about the Snyder resignation

A group of students assemble to protest the sudden resignation of Larry Snyder outside the Weatherby Administration building March 28 in Bowling Green. Snyder resigned as Dean of Potter College in an email Tuesday, March 26.

Herald Staff

Larry Snyder, former dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, resigned Wednesday. The announcement came Tuesday from Provost Terry Ballman in an email to faculty and staff. No official reason has been given for Snyder’s resignation. 

Before his resignation, Snyder was one of two deans left from former President Gary Ransdell’s tenure. Only Cheryl Stevens, the dean of Ogden College of Science and Engineering, remains in her position.

The resignation has been followed by student protests and Sally Ray declining the position of interim dean. 

Here’s a breakdown of events by the day. 

Tuesday, April 2

President Timothy Caboni held a meeting with department heads from Potter College in the Fine Arts Center on Tuesday to address their concerns over the resignation and the provost. 

“These conversations are always difficult, but I’m thankful for the honesty and directness of those department chairs,” Caboni said. “I think where we wound up is not at a solution or a resolution, but I was thankful to hear their perspective, and they heard from me that I and the provost want to work together.”

Monday, April 1

Merrall Price, an English professor and special assistant to the provost, was named as the interim dean of Potter College on Monday. She will take that position effective May 1. Sally Ray, the former chancellor of WKU’s Glasgow campus, previously declined the interim position. 

In wake of Snyder’s resignation, the University Senate has organized a special called meeting for Thursday at 3:45 p.m. University Senate Chair Kirk Atkinson said he received a request from 14 senators to hold the meeting, eclipsing the requirement of 10.

Atkinson said that Snyder’s resignation was “sort of the final straw” in calling the meeting. 

Ballman elected to host a forum in the Student Government Association Senate chambers to speak with students about their concerns following Snyder’s resignation. That can be seen here

The SGA also released a statement on the resignation and its fallout. 

{{tncms-inline account=”WKU SGA” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Below is an official press release from the SGA Executive Team regarding the matter with former dean Larry Snyder and the WKU administration: <a href="https://twitter.com/caboni?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@caboni</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUPcal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKUPcal</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/wku?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wku</a> <a href="https://t.co/K84NxzuVhQ">pic.twitter.com/K84NxzuVhQ</a></p>— WKU SGA (@WKUSGA) <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUSGA/status/1112758152540372992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 1, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/WKUSGA/status/1112758152540372992″ type=”twitter”}}

After hearing that WKU Facilities had been washing away chalk messages left by protesters, President Timothy Caboni sent a tweet saying that he had told the university not to erase any messages. 

{{tncms-inline account=”Tim Caboni” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Was made aware of some reports of chalking being washed away on campus. I have communicated to WKU facilities that our university supports this type of expression and that it should not be erased.We appreciate students letting us know.</p>— Tim Caboni (@caboni) <a href="https://twitter.com/caboni/status/1112853636063903744?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 1, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/caboni/status/1112853636063903744″ type=”twitter”}}

Friday, March 29

Caboni sent an email to members of the WKU Board of Regents defending Ballman after Snyder’s resignation

“I cannot go into details around Larry’s resignation because it is a personnel matter and we don’t discuss those publicly no matter the interest,” Caboni said in the email. “However, you should know that every dean serves at the pleasure of the provost and that it is in her discretion to make a change in academic personnel, for whatever reason she deems appropriate.”

Sally Ray, the former chancellor of WKU’s Glasgow campus, was expected to fill in as the interim dean of Potter College. Bob Skipper, director of media relations for WKU, confirmed that Ray declined the position on Friday.

A receptionist in the Provost’s Office said Ballman is out of town and could not be immediately reached for comment.

Several faculty members publicly expressed their concern to the Herald over Snyder’s resignation on Friday. 

Thursday, March 28

Students protested Snyder’s resignation for the second straight day outside Potter Hall and the Wetherby Administration Building. 

Students also used chalk to write messages of support to Snyder on sidewalks around campus. 

{{tncms-inline account=”Arielle has Sprung🌸🌷🌼” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Our Dean today, our programs tomorrow. if you can’t join us this morning, meet us at 12:45 and 3:45 and help us make some noise!! We will be here between Wetherby and Potter Hall <a href="https://t.co/5PSSTHPMMG">pic.twitter.com/5PSSTHPMMG</a></p>— Arielle has Sprung🌸🌷🌼 (@ariellenotrad) <a href="https://twitter.com/ariellenotrad/status/1111283315389222912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 28, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/ariellenotrad/status/1111283315389222912″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”Nicole Ziege” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Almost 20 students are now in front of Wetherby Admin. Building protesting Larry Snyder’s resignation as dean of PCAL. <a href="https://twitter.com/wkuherald?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wkuherald</a> <a href="https://t.co/xkr0xXPVqD">pic.twitter.com/xkr0xXPVqD</a></p>— Nicole Ziege (@NicoleZiege) <a href="https://twitter.com/NicoleZiege/status/1111278648580075520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 28, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/NicoleZiege/status/1111278648580075520″ type=”twitter”}}

Inside Higher Ed, a national postsecondary education publication, reported on the student protests, writing of Snyder’s popularity on campus and his reputation as “someone who has defended liberal arts departments in the face of tight state budgets.”

Wednesday, March 27

Snyder released a statement to the faculty and staff of Potter College on Wednesday via email. In the statement, he thanked people for the support and said that Ray would take his place as the interim dean. 

“As you know by now, I have resigned my leadership of Potter College effective today,” Snyder said. “I regret that I was unable to inform you of that decision myself yesterday … Following my departure, Dr. Sally Ray will assume the deanship on an interim basis.”

Students began protesting outside Wetherby Administration Building and Potter Hall the day after Snyder resigned. 

Holding signs and singing a “Freedom Song,” many of the students present came from departments within Potter College, but planned on notifying friends in other departments and colleges.

Lauren Hanson, a senior theater major from Brandenburg, said she decided to protest Wednesday after hearing of Snyder’s resignation.

“We feel that Larry Snyder has a decades-long reputation of being an excellent dean, and he was unfairly forced to resign because he wouldn’t cow down to the Provost,” Hanson said. “We value Potter College and are hyper-vigilant to figures of authority in the university who don’t.”

{{tncms-inline account=”Emily DeLetter” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Masters in Public Administration student Josh Knight said he’s protesting because “the idea that a dean would be forced to resign rubs me the wrong way…I wish they [administrators] would come out with the reasons for their decision.” <a href="https://twitter.com/wkuherald?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wkuherald</a> <a href="https://t.co/O7BklhixEr">pic.twitter.com/O7BklhixEr</a></p>— Emily DeLetter (@EmilyDeLetter) <a href="https://twitter.com/EmilyDeLetter/status/1111019056633704450?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 27, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/EmilyDeLetter/status/1111019056633704450″ type=”twitter”}}

Robert Dietle, interim director of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, said he attended a meeting held between Potter College department heads and Ballman on Wednesday, in which Snyder’s resignation was discussed.

Jane Olmsted, department head of Diversity & Community Studies within Potter College, said that Snyder was asked to resign.

Tuesday, March 26

Snyder’s resignation was confirmed in an email to faculty and staff from Ballman. 

In the email, Ballman said Snyder “will be on leave preparing to resume his duties as a member of our faculty.”

Ballman said in the email that Ray will take the place of Snyder as the interim dean. 

Snyder, who attributed his resignation to changes and transitions in WKU’s structure, said he will be on leave during the fall semester but will resume teaching again in the Religious Studies Department in January.

He said the ongoing Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation process is a part of that change, but his resignation is not a direct result of the process.

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available. 

Assistant News Editor Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.