It means that she does a little bit of everything.
At approximately 7:30 every morning, her day begins.
With a cup of coffee — she prefers coffees found on campus like Starbucks, Pete’s or Caribou — in hand, she takes on a job most people observe but never really think about.
Each day, she has to take on a new task, but nothing is too hard for Snyder. She’s constantly answering phone calls from unhappy parents and students and returning e-mails. When she’s not doing that, she’s in a meeting with people to discuss enrollment, admission, financial aid and student billing. Then there are meetings with her team members to discuss what is going on.
Snyder is also a part of a behavioral intervention team called “Report and Support” that gets together when they get a report of someone that needs to be treated beyond the confines of the Graham Health Center. In those instances, she pulls together an officer from the Oakland University police department, two psychologists — one from Graham and one from the school of education — and the dean of students.
“We come together collectively and we assess and evaluate what we know about this individual and see if he or she is an immediate threat to our campus,” she said. “If so, we decide what kind of intervention we will have with the student. We have more reports of students who are acting in an irrational way, or their behavior is suspicious. We get a lot of calls for that now.”
Recently, Snyder has been working with faculty members to get students who have disabilities the testing accommodations that they are lawfully entitled to.
Aside from the deskwork, she’s a common sight at OU basketball games and has been in dunk tanks, has had pies thrown at her in pie throwing contests and was even dressed up like Cher for a ’70s party last year.
“I also do things like the videos for admissions,” she said. “I do part of the hosting of the incoming student receptions, I’m always dealing with financial aid and I also oversee recreation … I do anything for them because I need to make sure I have a strong freshman class coming in the front door.”
Her colleagues also praise her. “She picks and prioritizes the right issues and concerns to address in Student Affairs,” Center for Student Activities Director Jean Ann Miller said. “She motivates and challenges her staff to impact the lives of OU students to be successful academically, professionally and personally.”
Snyder began her education by leaving her hometown of Royal Oak and traveling to Western Michigan University, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. After moving to Ohio, she obtained a master’s degree from Ohio State University and the job that started her career. Snyder held the title of director of student activities at OSU for five years.
From there, she made a big loop around the country, traveling to the west coast — where she obtained a Ph.D. in higher education at the University of California, Los Angeles — and then to Iowa State University, where she worked for 10 years.
Snyder’s position at OU materialized when she heard of a job opening at the campus.
“I loved this area, I grew up here and I knew about Oakland,” she said. “When the position came open in ’94 I still had a strong memory of Oakland and wanted to come back for that reason.”
Since she started her job during the fall of 1994, Snyder has accomplished many different things including the creation of the student apartment buildings, the extension to the Oakland Center, the revamping of the food court and the redesign of the cafeteria in Vandenberg Hall.
“I love to be part of change,” she said. “I’m a person who gets excited about changing things for the better — for students. It gives me thrill to build a facility that the students have wanted for a long time and get the final approval by the board to go forward with something like that to make a huge difference for decades in the lives of student generations.”
Located upstairs in the OC across from the Pioneer Food Court, Snyder’s office captures the uniqueness of her personality — a Cheesehead hat lets visitors know she’s a Green Bay Packers fan, and pictures and plaques placed all over the room give some insight to some of the events she has attended like the talent show last year where she was a guest judge.
“I love being in the Oakland Center,” Snyder said. “I feel like it’s a really good office to have in my position. It gives me a lot of exposure to what is going on in student life and makes me more accessible to students.”
But Snyder isn’t solely involved with school events. Each year, she gets to know an assortment of student leaders and students, especially those she meets with at various points during the year. Though she said she doesn’t get the chance to meet as many random students as she used to, she does write a lot of letters of recommendation for grad school applicants and students looking for jobs.
“Mary Beth is a really great lady,” said Brandon Gustafson, student body president. “She helped so much for every project we’ve done and she’s really active in regards to working with us. She’s 100 percent a really awesome woman.”
Snyder’s dream is to build a clock tower for students somewhere on campus and