A Q&A with School of Art’s Gerry Snyder
Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of the School of Art
In this conversation, Snyder talks about joining the university’s new School of Art, the gifts that helped create the school, how much he’s already enjoying being a part of the Northwest Arkansas community, and his plans to continue to build the school and connect with the area’s larger arts and cultural community.
What excites me about this opportunity is that with the very generous gifts from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation is the ability to transform what was a very strong department into a school that will be recognized as a leader in the arts regionally and nationally.
My academic passion is to work towards creating an environment that facilitates faculty research, which in turn provides the pedagogical base for an excellent educational experience for students.
It has been my experience that if a school’s mission and goals are well articulated and reflect the professional standards and values of the school then you will always know if you are moving towards those goals or not.
Q: How long have you been at Fulbright College? What have you enjoyed most about your time here?
I started on July 1 and have been at the Fulbright College for just two months. What I have enjoyed the most about Fulbright College and the U of A is meeting so many wonderful colleagues from across campus. The Fulbright College has an incredible leadership team that I feel fortunate to be working with, and I appreciate their support for the School of Art.
My wife, Jeanne Arnold, and I have enjoyed our transition from Brooklyn to Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas area. It’s a beautiful environment filled with welcoming people that reminds us of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we lived for a number of years, and where I still have a studio.
There is an added bonus to the move and is tied to one of the ways I measure my quality of life, which is to calculate how much time I spend commuting. I now have a pleasant 15-minute walk to the Fine Arts Center Building that is mostly uphill, which is a great way to start the day, and of course it is all downhill for the walk home.
Q: What do you most hope your students remember from their classes and/or interactions with you?
That education is pursued by the individual and that to make their experience truly meaningful it is important to personalize it to the extent you can so you know how it aligns with your learning style, goals and how it can broaden your capacity for critical thinking.
I see education and knowledge acquisition as being one of the most useful tools to have for navigating life.
Q: What do you like to do during your time outside of the university?
What I like to think of as quality of life maintenance, which includes spending time with my family, eating a healthy yet interesting diet, exercising and having time to read.
I love to travel, especially when it is connected to building partnerships and programs. I continue to have a robust art practice and usually work in the studio from around 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., which can put a dent in my sleep schedule.
Q: What’s up next on the horizon for you?
During my first year at the School of Art I will work with the faculty to create a strategic plan that will become the road map that will help guide, manage and utilize the endowment to its fullest.
In addition, I also want to connect with the larger arts and culture community in the Northwest Arkansas area.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or let readers know?
Just that I appreciate the warm welcome I have received at the University of Arkansas, the Fulbright College, the School of Art and the larger Northwest Arkansas community. Thank you.