Professor Emeritus James C. Snyder, who served as interim dean of the Taubman College of Achitecture and Urban Planning from 1997-98, died June 24 at the age of 73 after an 18-year battle with cancer.
Snyder taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before joining U-M in 1980 as a professor in both architecture and urban planning. He helped initiate the Studies in Urban Securities Group (SUSG) in 1985, chaired the Urban and Regional Planning Program (1982-84), and served as associate dean (1996-99) and interim dean (1997-98).
His teaching exhibited a strong commitment to the integration of sound fiscal and physical planning within a well-designed and safely-built environment, and his applied research, working with faculty and students, focused on urban security and safety.
“Professor Snyder was known for his sense of humor and his commitment to those less fortunate,” said Taubman College Dean Monica Ponce de Leon. “Following his retirement in 2004, he offered classes to prisoners about to be released from jail, with a focus on helping them find ways to return to society and become productive and contributing members.”
Snyder was born April 20, 1940, in Dayton, Ohio, to Charles J. Snyder and Magdalene E. Moore-Snyder. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts in architecture, after which he served as in intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. In subsequent years he earned two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in architecture and urban planning from U-M.
In 1967 he moved to Chicago and was married in 1968 to Jeanne A. Thoen, his wife of almost 45 years. He was a private consultant on matters of urban security across the country, including work with the Environmental Protection Agency, Detroit Police, and the Olympics in Atlanta. After his retirement from U-M in 2005, Snyder became an active volunteer at the Washtenaw County Jail, using his many years of teaching experience to connect with inmates and help them “transition home” out of the penal system.
Snyder believed in service to his community, and was a volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul organization.
He is survived by his wife Jeanne, his daughters Jamie M. Nielsen and Jennifer T. Snyder, and his two grandsons Joshua J. Nielsen and Henry M. Ernst. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Ann Arbor.
— Submitted by Keith Bretzius, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
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