Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder to lead Association of American Universities

Organization represents nation’s top higher education institutions, including all of Ivy League, public flagships, Stanford, Johns Hopkins & CWRU

headshot of CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder

President Barbara R. Snyder announced today that she will become the next leader of the organization that represents the 63 leading research universities in the U.S., as well as two in Canada.

Snyder, who became president of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in July 2007, will join the Association of American Universities (AAU) by the end of the fall 2020 semester.

“The opportunity to serve as Case Western Reserve’s president has been the greatest professional privilege of my life,” President Snyder said. “But at a time when higher education itself faces such profound challenges across so many fronts, I felt an obligation to answer my peers’ call to work on behalf of all of our institutions.”

The AAU’s members include such public flagship institutions as UCLA, University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia, as well as private ones including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford and Johns Hopkins University. In addition to Case Western Reserve, all of the members of the University Athletic Association are part of the AAU.

AAU board chair Michael McRobbie said Snyder was a natural choice for her new role.

“I am delighted that the board selected Barbara to lead AAU into our next chapter,” said McRobbie, who is also the president of Indiana University. “She has extensive experience in reinforcing Case Western Reserve’s credentials as both a highly regarded research institution and as a place where undergraduate and graduate students alike receive a world-class education. She also understands AAU and the broader university and scientific communities well; Barbara is a perfect fit.”

Case Western Reserve’s Board of Trustees chair James C. Wyant said that Fred DiSanto—an alumnus and trustee who begins his term as board chair this June—will lead a national search for her successor. The university has retained Spencer Stuart to assist in this search. Its consultants have assisted with the recruitment of multiple senior CWRU administrators, including President Snyder herself.

“Barbara’s impact on this university has been so broad and deep that we will not understand the full extent of her legacy for years and perhaps decades to come,” Wyant said. “Her energy, integrity, and powerful commitment to collaboration have led to progress and partnerships that would have been unimaginable when she first arrived.”

The precise timing of Snyder’s fall transition to the AAU will depend on the progress of the search process. DiSanto said that he would provide additional updates regarding the search process later this month.

“Barbara Snyder arrived at a university facing significant debt, disaffected alumni, and deep concern about its future,” DiSanto said. “Today we can point to solid finances, record-breaking fundraising, and breakthroughs in research and academic partnerships that have drawn national acclaim. I am confident that Case Western Reserve today is in a position to attract a broad range of outstanding candidates for its presidency.”

Case Western Reserve’s achievements during Snyder’s tenure include:


  • with Cleveland Clinic to develop the Health Education Campus, designed to support interprofessional education among students from the university’s dental, nursing and medical schools, including Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine;
  • with the Cleveland Museum of Art to re-launch its joint doctoral program in art history, acquire the property now known as East Bell Commons for future collaborative use, and to include property immediately south of its building as part of the Nord Family Greenway; and
  • with The Temple-Tifereth Israel to acquire and restore its historic Cleveland structure for use as performance spaces within the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center, which also includes a second phase of new construction begun last year.

Forward Thinking Capital Campaign

  • Begun with a $1 billion goal, it ultimately raised $1.82 billion
  • 11 new buildings and renovation projects, including the Tinkham Veale University Center, the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box] in the Richey-Mixon Building, and the Frank N. and Jocelyn K. Linsalata Alumni Center
  • $253 million in scholarships and fellowships, as well as 98 professorships started or completed

Undergraduate Admissions

  • incoming class’ average SAT from 1302 to 1424 and ACT from 28.6 to 32
  • proportion of underrepresented minority students from 8 to nearly 20 percent
  • international students from under 3 to over 15 percent.