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Obituary: Joseph J. Snyder


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Joseph J. Snyder

Joseph J. Snyder, a former treasurer of MIT and a life member of the Corporation, died last Tuesday at the age of 87. Snyder is credited with having made investments during the 1950s that have helped MIT deal with post-Cold War cuts in government-funded research.

Snyder was treasurer of MIT for 25 years, from 1950 to 1975. He came to MIT as an administrator at the Radiation Laboratory at the beginning of World War II. Then-Treasurer Horace S. Ford Jr. '31 noticed Snyder's potential, and upon his retirement, Ford recommended Snyder to replace him, according to an article in The Boston Globe.

As treasurer, Snyder sought to protect MIT against a possible future downturn in government sponsorship of scientific research, said current Treasurer Glenn P. Strehle '58. He started a major accumulation of reserve funds and made investments in blue chip firms of the time - including IBM, Eastman Kodak Co., and Merck and Co. - in order to deal with potential future fluctuations in government funding, Strehle said.

"That was a period in the 1950s when MIT was growing very rapidly," Strehle said. Among other developments, the decade saw the opening of Lincoln Laboratory.

Snyder thought that "MIT needed to have growth in its assets" in case government money should "slow up for any reason," Strehle said. Snyder's pattern of investment "looked like a good idea then, and it still looks like a good idea today," he said.

Chairman of the Corporation Paul E. Gray '54 praised Snyder for his "stabilizing and conservative" influence on MIT during the Institute's "great transformation" from a science and engineering university in the 1940s to a science-based research university in the 1960s.

Snyder "deserves a lot of credit," Gray said. "He saw the entire buildup of government support. He worried a lot about when growth [might] decline" and tried to protect MIT against research cuts through prudent management and investments of Institute funds, he said.

Snyder was born in Finlay, Ohio. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology and later received a master of business administration degree from Harvard University.

He attended MIT in the Department of Chemical Engineering in the early 1940s, according to the Alumni/ae Register.

Snyder was a director of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and a trustee of the Boston Five Cent Savings Bank. From 1945 to 1974 he also served as a director for the investment consultant firm Colonial Management Associates, Inc., according to the Globe article.

A memorial service will be held at MIT before Commencement.