Donald D. Snyder was appointed UNLV's acting president by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents on Friday, filling a role that will be vacated when outgoing president Neal Smatresk assumes his new position at the University of North Texas.
Snyder will officially take over as acting UNLV president on Feb. 1 and will serve until the successful completion of a national search for a permanent president, which is expected to begin immediately. Snyder, a longtime Las Vegas business leader, was dean of the UNLV Harrah Hotel College from 2010 to 2013 and is currently UNLV’s executive dean for strategic development. He is also the point person for the UNLV stadium project through his role as chair of the UNLV Campus Improvement Authority Board.
"I'm honored to be asked to serve a university that has been such an important part of my life since moving to Las Vegas more than 25 years ago,” said Snyder. “President Smatresk has built a solid foundation of strategic initiatives that will forever change UNLV and our community in very positive ways. He has also assembled the strongest team of academic professionals in UNLV's history. It will be an honor to work with this team to move these initiatives forward while the search for the permanent president is conducted."
The appointment follows a host of campus and community meetings on the presidential search led by Board of Regents Chair Kevin Page and NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich, who made the nomination to the full Board of Regents during Friday’s meeting. According to NSHE policy, an acting president carries out the full duties as president of the institution until a permanent appointment is made. The acting president is not eligible to apply for the permanent position.
“Snyder continues everything that is positive about UNLV,” Klaich said in his nomination to the Board of Regents. “Don Snyder knows UNLV; he knows Las Vegas and Nevada…At a time when the community and in particular the business community needs to be linked to UNLV closer than ever before, the perfect bridge is Don Snyder. Under his leadership, I see momentum growing, trajectory increasing, initiatives advancing, and support coalescing.”
Snyder has deep ties to UNLV and Southern Nevada. Prior to joining UNLV as dean of the Hotel College in 2010, he served for decades locally in senior leadership positions in both commercial banking and gaming industries.
Snyder spent 22 years with First Interstate Bank (now Wells Fargo), rising through the management ranks to become chairman and CEO from 1987 to 1991. He went on to co-found Bank of Nevada, and has been an active member of the Board of Directors throughout its growth into Western Alliance Bancorporation, a multi-state banking organization. In 1992 Snyder led the effort to construct what would become the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. After the Fremont Street Experience successfully opened in 1996, Snyder joined Boyd Gaming, where he served as president from 1997 to 2005.
A prolific fundraiser, Snyder played an integral role as chairman of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. He is also a former member and chair of the UNLV Foundation and co-chair of the university’s successful $537 million Invent the Future capital campaign, which concluded in 2009. Snyder has served on the boards of more than 15 public and private companies, numerous local non-profits, and several legislative commissions, including chairing the Governor’s Commission on Medical Education, Research & Training in 2006.
Snyder is a graduate of the University of Wyoming and completed the Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management at Stanford University. For his contributions to UNLV, he was awarded the President’s Medal in 2000, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 2001, and was named (by the NSHE Board of Regents) a Distinguished Nevadan in 2003. For his leadership in the business community, Snyder was inducted into the Nevada Business Hall of Fame by UNLV’s Lee Business School in 2011.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.