Students and colleagues will honor the memory of Dr. Glenn Snelbecker, an education professor who died unexpectedly last month, with a scholarship.
Dr. Glenn Snelbecker, 78, a professor who taught graduate students in educational psychology and served 43 years in the College of Education at Temple, died suddenly Jan. 24, leaving behind a community of students and colleagues who loved him.
“He was certainly passionate, committed and dedicated. He was a person who believed in his positions and defended them strongly,” said Chairperson and Professor of Education Psychology Dr. Joseph DuCette, who worked with Dr. Snelbecker for more than 40 years in the department.
Dr. Snelbecker was described as a “pioneer” in instructional technology by his colleagues and was the lead professor of the instructional and learning technology master’s program.
“He brought such enthusiasm to the classroom and the field as a whole,” Terence McConlogue, a former educational psychology doctorate student, said in an e-mail. “He truly loved his work and demonstrated that every day.”
Throughout the course of his career at Temple, Dr. Snelbecker published more than 60 journal papers, 10 textbook chapters and sections, and authored or co-authored five books and monographs, including a textbook titled Learning Theory, Instructional Theory and Psychoeducational Design, published by McGraw-Hill in 1974. He attended more than 60 professional workshops and annual national and international conferences.
Dr. Snelbecker worked on several projects with Temple faculty, including the Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtable committee. The committee was one of the first of its kind in the country, chaired by former School of Communications and Theater Dean Concetta Stewart.
The TLTR was responsible for implementing an institution-wide e-mail system at Temple during the mid-1990s, along with creating SMART Classrooms and acting as institutional support systems for faculty, Stewart said.
“Certainly someone like Glenn [Snelbecker], as an educator, as one who studied human behavior, as a bit of a technophile, really was a great colleague,” Stewart, currently dean of art and design at the Pratt Institute in New York, said. “Glenn really was there in those early days reminding us constantly that the technology was to serve the academic mission.”
The committee also planned the Tuttleman Learning Center and started the Online Learning Program, said Catherine Schifter, an associate professor of instruction and technology in education, who also was a TLTR member.
But Dr. Snelbecker’s impact didn’t stop at Temple, as he reached students in the community while giving graduate students opportunities to conduct research as well.
Under the direction of Dr. Snelbecker in Project RAINBOW, or Restructured Academic INclusion BOnded with the World, doctoral students of psychological studies in education, like Jill Teitelbaum and Claudia Smarkola served as project coordinators.
The U.S. Department of Education funded Project RAINBOW, designed in 1995 to teach K-12 teachers from the Philadelphia School District how to integrate technology into their curriculums.
In addition, Dr. Snelbecker co-directed Project Literacy Improvement Through Technology with David Fitt, a clinical assistant professor of curriculum, instruction and technology in education. The Pennsylvania Department of Education and other sponsors, including Temple, funded Project LITT, which served seven schools and more than 200 teachers.
The professors improved the curriculum School District of Philadelphia K-12 teachers used to “infuse technology into classroom academic standards.”
“Dr. Snelbecker was someone who really cared about his students and his work with schools,” Schifter said. “He took his research extremely seriously.”
He also served as co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation-funded project for seven years with Robert Aiken, professor of computer and information sciences. Electrical engineering professor Brian Butz said the project centered on designing an intelligent tutoring system within the Philadelphia School District to help students learn.
“The program was designed to help teachers with an interest to develop a set of skills that they could use in the classroom,” Aiken said. “[Dr. Snelbecker] was very dedicated and hardworking.”
The oldest of seven siblings, Dr. Snelbecker was the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from Elizabethtown College in 1957 with a B.S. in business education, earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling at Bucknell University in 1958 and completed his doctorate in educational psychology and measurement, guidance counseling, human development and family relationships at Cornell University in 1961.
Joseph Rosenfeld, a professor emeritus of school psychology, said Dr. Snelbecker was as a “very ethical person” and “respectful to his students and his colleagues.” Rosenfeld worked with him since Dr. Snelbecker came to Temple in 1967.
“He would spend time helping students to meet graduation requirements, where other professors would have found them to be problematic and given up,” Rosenfeld said.
Nina Eduljee, a 1995 graduate of the educational psychology doctorate program as well as one of Dr. Snelbecker’s former advisees is an example of the late professor’s influence on his students’ research.
“He got me involved with many different aspects of research, always treating me with compassion and respect, patiently teaching me the skills that I now use on a daily basis with my students,” she said, adding that she worked with Dr. Snelbecker for three years as a graduate assistant on his NSF project.
A quality stressed by all the colleagues who came to know Dr. Snelbecker was his dedication to student advocacy.
“Glenn inspired me to pursue a Ph.D., which I will finish once I return stateside,” McConlogue, who is currently serving in Iraq, said. “Beyond that, however, he helped me with words of encouragement and empathy during some of the darkest hours of my life.”
Colleagues also said Dr. Snelbecker provided help to any graduate student in need.
“My doctoral research is to give students who don’t have necessarily all of the advantages to seek and attain a college education, and Dr. Snelbecker shared my passion for this topic,” graduate student Eric Bierker of Temple’s educational psychology program wrote in an e-mail.
“In the spirit of Temple’s founder Russel H. Conwell, Dr. Snelbecker’s service to the university surely represented the ‘Acres of Diamonds’ thoughts of its founder,” said Bierker, Dr. Snelbecker’s former student and advisee. “Dr. Snelbecker truly personified what is best about Temple University, both as a professor and more importantly, as an individual.”
Dr. Snelbecker is survived by his wife, Janice, his son, David, two daughters, Karen Stern and Laura Roberts-Sampson, six grandchildren, four sisters and two brothers.
“My fondest memory of Glenn is as a dedicated and caring husband, father and grandfather, whose eyes sparkled when he regularly shared stories with me about his wonderful family,” Jim Roberge, professor of educational psychology and colleague of Dr. Snelbecker for 41 years, wrote in an e-mail. “They were always foremost in his mind.”
Plans for the creation of a scholarship in Dr. Snelbecker’s name to aid Temple students are currently underway.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.