By Sean Callahan
After over four decades of writing, researching and instructing college students, Dr. William Snyder, professor of English, is retiring from his career in teaching.
Snyder said this decision did not come to him overnight. In fact, retirement has been on his radar, in part due to many of his peers retiring in recent years. He has several reasons for retiring, but the most immediate has been the increasing reliance on screens to carry out his work and instruction.
“My eyes are not the best. With all the online teaching and grading, I get eye strain and headaches after about 45 minutes,” Snyder said. “I struggled to keep up with all the submissions coming in just about every day. In short, I was fighting it—an alien, unhealthy feeling.”
In his retirement, Snyder said he plans to continue to read and write and complete a few projects, some of which go back several decades. But outside his English interests, he wants to hike, travel, and resume photography. Finally, he stressed commitments to visiting family and friends he hasn’t seen for several years.
Snyder described his overall teaching experience at SVC as one that is filled with many high points. He felt very appreciated by the college through support of his research interests and course topics, including interdisciplinary studies focused on literature, visual art, and critical thinking through writing. He said he would miss the supportive environment and the inspiration he has received from students.
“There were maybe hundreds of times I would finish a conference or conversation with a student and think, ‘how did this person get to be so awesome at such a young age?’” Snyder said.
Snyder said a favorite memory of his, among many, is about an experience he had on Nov. 4 of 1988. He described how, two months prior to that day, he had instructed a course on The Sixties alongside a history professor named Roy Mills. They assigned a term project called “Twenty Years Ago Today,” which was meant to analyze the year 1968. After two months of preparation, the project became a brilliant display across campus.
“We had speakers, authors, musicians, symposiums, displays, an art contest, movies and a dance that evening. Students dressed in paisley and tie-dye and hung banners across campus,” Snyder recalled. “Local high school students were bussed in for the lessons and entertainment, and Pittsburgh TV and news crews came out to cover the events.”
As he nears the end of his teaching career, Snyder says he hopes that all SVC students will embrace learning in all classes, rather than just those in their major.
“You are not at Saint Vincent merely to be trained to become an employee; you are here to become educated to be enabled and inspired to act as an agent of truth and goodness, as the college’s motto states,” Snyder said.
Furthermore, Snyder emphasized that students should be aware of their time and how fruitfully they spend it.
“Realize that one third of your days will be for work, and another third will be for sleep. The remaining hours are for self-determination. Learning art and music, psychology and theology, languages and wisdom will allow you to fill those hours with light.”