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Joseph Snyder, former MIT treasurer, VP, dead at 87

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-Joseph J. Snyder of Manchester-by-the-Sea, who served longer as treasurer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology than any person in the history of the university, died Tuesday, February 28, at the North Hill Care Facility, Needham, Mass., of congestive heart failure after a long illness. He was 87. A memorial service at MIT will be held at a date to be announced.

In his 25 years as treasurer, and 24 as an MIT vice president, Mr. Snyder was responsible for both the stewardship of MIT's financial assets and the management of its investments, as well as for the Institute's financial operations and financial relations. He also managed the handling of contractual arrangements for MIT's large volume of government research and became recognized as one of the leading university financial officers in the nation.

More than 40 ago, Mr. Snyder began to accumulate reserve funds to protect MIT against what he saw as the fiscal uncertainties associated with having a large portion of Institute's revenues depend on government-sponsored research.

Mr. Snyder's vision was saluted by Glenn P. Strehle, MIT's vice president for finance and treasurer, who succeeded Mr. Snyder in that post.

"What he saw coming certainly arrived," Mr. Strehle said, speaking of the changes in federal research support, "and thanks to his initiative in the 1950s, the Institute is better able to deal with the post-Cold War world of the 1990s."

When Mr. Snyder retired in 1975, Howard W. Johnson, then chairman of the MIT Corporation, said the university was "indebted to him for more than a quarter of a century of wise and prudent stewardship of our financial investments and fiscal affairs."

Mr. Snyder continued serving MIT as Life Member of the MIT Corporation. He became Life Member, emeritus, in 1983.

A native of Finlay, Ohio, Mr. Snyder was born Oct. 29, 1907. He graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie-Mellon University) in 1931. In 1934 he earned the MBA at Harvard University.

He was associated with Colonial Management Associates, Inc., a registered investment adviser, and its predecessor companies from 1934, and served as a director from 1945-1974. Mr. Snyder was a trustee of Boston Five Cents Savings Bank, and a director of Liberty Mutual Insurance Companies and Arthur D. Little, Inc. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Boston Economic Club.

Mr. Snyder joined MIT in the early days of World War II. The now-famous Radiation Laboratory, where radar was developed, was just gearing up and Mr. Snyder became a member of the lab's Office of Business Administration. That work brought him into contact with Horace S. Ford, then treasurer of MIT, who recognized his young colleague's potential. When Mr. Ford approached retirement, he recommended Mr. Snyder as his successor. He was appointed assistant treasurer in 1946 and was elected treasurer in 1950, when Mr. Ford retired.

On April 3, 1937, he and Helen Torrance Colburn were married. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his three children, Clinton L. Snyder of Erdenheim, Pa., J. MacGeorge Snyder of Burlington, Vt., and Susanne C. Rappaport of West Pawlet, Vt; and a brother, Raymond Snyder of Naples, Fla.

Contributions in his memory may be made to MIT, care of the Recording Secretary.

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