Snider retiring after three decades at Northern


Last updated 6/30/2020 at 11:19am

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Retiring Montana State University Northern Professor John Snider poses for a portrait Saturday on Northern's campus.

A Montana State University-Northern English professor is retiring after teaching for 31 years at the university.

John Snider said he came to Northern in 1989, teaching writing, literature and Native American studies.

Before teaching at Northern, he said, he was teaching at a Lutheran College in Wisconsin and his soon-to-be wife, Carol Ortman, at the time was teaching music in Whitefish.

"I decided if I was going to marry her I'd better quit that job and come out and marry her," he said. "... I came out  here and I tell everybody that it was easier to agree to marry me than it was to get her to leave Whitefish."

He has a doctorate from the University of Illinois and his undergraduate from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he said.

He added that when he started in this business the job market was tight, so one was lucky to get a job wherever.

When he was a graduate student, he said, he applied to more than 100 jobs throughout the country till he got his first job.

He taught at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, for a year, then Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin for five years, The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for a year, Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin for three years then has been Northern for the past 31 years, Snider said.

"I enjoyed the Native American studies classes, I enjoyed the literature classes, the writing class - I find the students to be hard working, the working-class kids not like some of the kids in Bozeman or Missoula - they are working-class, they work pretty hard and I think the college does right by them," he said.

He said his favorite memory is working with the students.

He had a student a couple years ago from Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, he said, who took a class in creative writing and turned out to be a fantastic poet.

"You just find people who have done incredible stuff," he added.

In coming to Montana, he said, he has loved the countryside, the small town, and it is great to be near Glacier and Yellowstone National Park.

With retirement, he and his wife, are spending the summer in Wisconsin to visit his wife's relatives, he said.

Snider said his wife, a long-time teacher and then principal at St. Jude Thaddeus School, works as a counselor for Head Start.

"One of the things that I have had disappointment with the whole university system and I've written a lot about that in newspapers around the state ... of the things that disappoints me about the system and Northern is that they spend so little of their budget on instruction," he said. "So, in the university system as a whole only 52 percent of the budget goes to instruction, and at Northern it's like 43 percent or something much less than that they'll find money to build this, which I think is in my opinion ridiculous football and not have the academic programs they could have."


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