Dr. Todd Snyder is one of the most popular professors here at Siena College. When he is mentioned by other students, there is nothing but positive reactions toward his teaching, his courses, his ridiculously cool southern accent and his fashion sense. Keep reading to find out more about one of Siena’s most esteemed professors.
Hometown: Cowen, West Virginia
Years at Siena: Four
Favorite book: Bootstraps by Victor Villanueva
Favorite sports teams: Yankees and Marshall University sports
Favorite music: Hip-Hop, Reggae, Jazz/Blues and R&B
If you can travel any place in the world, where would you go? Paris, France
HC: Where did your love for teaching come from?
It’s funny when I started out my plan was that I was going to be a high school English teacher and maybe be a high school basketball coach or something. I really didn’t get a real passion for teaching until I did my TAship at Marshall University where they gave me my own class to teach and let me pick the books and design the class. Once I did that for the first time I knew that there is nothing else I would rather do in my life than be a professor. I really fell in love with it at that point and told myself that I was going to do whatever it took to do this for the rest of my life.
HC: What do you like most about teaching at Siena?
The thing I love about Siena students is that they very much want to get to know you, come to your office, get advice on their writing and career advice and stuff like that. Some of the bigger schools I’ve taught at you teach a student once and then you never see them again. Here I know all my students pretty well. I have what I like to call “repeat customers”. I have had some students like four times now and that never happens at big schools. The third or fourth time I have a student in my class I feel like I know them, I care about them and I want to see them succeed. I like know their life story! So that’s really cool.
HC: What is your favorite class to teach and why?
My favorite class to teach is probably The Rhetoric in Hip-Hop class just because it’s such a lifelong dream to be able to do that. When I was a kid, I would read anything I can get my hands on that was about hip-hop like books about hip-hop figures and stuff like that. It was a big literacy tool for me to get to share that passion with my students is amazing. Day one they come into the classroom and they are excited too and that doesn’t happen often and most people who sign up for the class have a passion for hip-hop too so it’s such a dream come true to be able to do that.
HC: Other than teaching, how else are you involved on campus?
I’m the faculty representative for the hip-hop club and for the English society which is the English departments club. I am also the faculty advisor for the Promethean, the schools newspaper, which I just started this semester. I’m also involved with Hip-Hop Week which will be happening March 9th. We have Grandmaster Flash coming to campus to perform. We are bringing in graffiti artists, break dancers, DJ’s and some local hip-hop professors will come and talk sometime during the week. So that’s like my big event that I help with.
HC: So I was asked to ask this question by my team members. Whether you may know it or not, you are a major fashion icon on campus for professors on this campus. So where do you get you fashion sense from!?
(Laughs uncontrollably) I have NEVER heard of this. Okay…ummm.. .so I have to be real about this. I want to give you the Hollywood answer but I’m gonna be real with you. My wife Stephanie, when we first got together, I used to wear all hip-hop styled clothing. I’m talking like baggy jeans and long necklaces and stuff. I was a really bad dresser! So when I was going to be a student teacher, my wife took me out to buy me “teacher clothes” because I had no dress clothes. I didn’t own a tie; I didn’t own anything like that. I used to have like three shirts I would just change up every day. So she took me out and bought me starter clothes and I hated it. At the time that was the thing I liked least about teaching was having to dress up. So I bought the cheapest clothes I could find and it took me awhile but I started to like the professional identity. It made me feel good about myself and made me feel like I was doing something important. So my wife is the one who helped me along but it was a long process (laughs) but my wife gets all the credit on this one.
HC: You have a book “The Rhetoric of Appalachian Identity”. Tell me about that?
Part of the book is autobiographical. I grew up in Cowen, West Virginia. My father was a coal miner and all the men in my family worked in the coal mines. I never grew up thinking I was going to go to college and that wasn’t even something that I wanted to do. So when I turned 18, my Dad basically said to me “you got to go to college and get a decent job. You don’t want to work in the mines.” The book talks about my journey as a first generation college student and in college sort of how I doubted myself and the identity struggles I had during that time. I interviewed kids from Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and talked about their experience about being the first in their family to go to college. So it’s a book about what college can do for your life and how it can change your thinking. It’s a book to help you understand the outside world better and be the person you want to be instead of being the person you grew up thinking you had to be. Its ethnographic research and I have theory in there as well and I talk about how reading and writing and social environments impact the way we think of ourselves. It’s an ambitious book that tries to be a lot of different things (laughs) but at the heart it’s about how college will change your life. Most people grow up thinking they are going to college but here are a lot of people in this country that don’t grow up thinking that.
HC: Do you have another book coming in the future?
I do! It’s called “Lo’s Gym”. My dad also owned a boxing club for a number of years in West Virginia so I grew up around boxing and it’s a part of my identity as well. The book is more of a memoir and non-fiction kind of thing. It’s not so much an academic book. It’s about growing up around boxing as a young person and how that shaped my identity. Still today I am a huge boxing fan. I boxed when I was in high school, I worked corners with my dad and I was a trainer for a number of years. My dad and I go to the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota every summer. We met Mike Tyson last year which was really cool. So I still go to fights when I can and still have a love and appreciation for it.