Donald Snyder

Presidential Advisor for Strategic Initiatives

FDH 522
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Donald Snyder has deep ties to the university and Southern Nevada. An executive with senior leadership experience in both the commercial banking and gaming industries, Snyder is immediate past president of UNLV and now serves, on a volunteer basis, as a presidential advisor.

Snyder has been involved with UNLV for nearly 30 years as a volunteer or administrator. Prior to his term as acting UNLV president, he served as dean of the UNLV Harrah College of Hospitality and as the university’s executive dean for strategic development.

Snyder remains involved in major strategic efforts for the university and the Hospitality College, for which he helped gain legislative and gubernatorial support during the 2013 Legislative Session. He continues to assist the college in fundraising for the new academic building – Hospitality Hall – and to strengthen UNLV’s role as the intellectual capital of global gaming, which is directly tied to Governor Sandoval’s state economic development plan. He’s been a leader in UNLV’s push to create the new School of Medicine, and he led the planning efforts for a new football stadium, efforts which led to the new Raiders Stadium where UNLV will play its home football games beginning in 2020.

A prolific fundraiser, Snyder played an integral role as chairman of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. He is also a former member and chair of the UNLV Foundation and chair of the university’s successful $537 million Invent the Future capital campaign, which concluded in 2009. Snyder has served on the boards of more than 15 public and private companies, numerous local non-profits, and several legislative commissions, including chairing the Governor’s Commission on Medical Education, Research & Training in 2006. Snyder has been formally recognized on many occasions for outstanding community service, including the 2013 Philanthropist of the Year by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

Following his graduation from college in 1969, Snyder began a successful banking career, continuing involvement with the industry today.  During 22 years with First Interstate Bank (now Wells Fargo), he rose from a management trainee in California to serve as Chairman of the Board & CEO of First Interstate Bank of Nevada from 1987 to 1991.  He held leadership positions in retail and corporate banking, international banking, and real estate banking, and served on the Board of Directors of several First Interstate subsidiaries during his later years with First Interstate.

Subsequent to leaving First Interstate Bank, Snyder co-founded Bank of Nevada (originally called BankWest of Nevada).  From its initial $8 million in assets, the Bank has grown into a multi-state banking organization, with the parent holding company, Western Alliance Bancorporation, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with assets now of nearly $20 billion.  While never serving in a management capacity, he has been an active member of the Board of Directors for both Bank of Nevada (where he has served as Chairman for many years) and Western Alliance Bancorporation.

Snyder’s move to the gaming industry started in 1992 when asked by downtown Las Vegas casino owners to lead the efforts to develop what became the Fremont Street Experience.  He served as Chairman, President & CEO until July 1996, and continued as non- executive Chairman of the Board until 2006.

Following the successful opening and initial operation of the Fremont Street Experience, Snyder joined Boyd Gaming Corporation in 1996.  He became a member of Boyd Gaming’s Board of Director in April 1996, Executive Vice President three months later, and President in January 1997 – a position he held until his retirement in 2005.

His retirement from Boyd Gaming was planned to coincide with efforts to move forward with the funding and development of what became The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.  Having been involved in the earliest efforts (starting in 1994) to develop a world class performing arts center, Snyder became Chairman of the Board in 1999, a position he continues to hold.  While always serving in a non-paid capacity, he effectively teamed with Myron Martin (who become President & CEO during construction) to provide the leadership that made the center a reality.

Years before becoming an employee of UNLV, Snyder had a long history of active volunteer engagement with the university.  He became a member of the Board of Trustees for the UNLV Foundation in 1988, served five years as Chairman of its Board, and served as Chairman of the first and only comprehensive capital campaign.

For his work supporting UNLV, Snyder was awarded the President’s Medal in 2000, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 2001, and was named (by the NSHE Board of Regents) a Distinguished Nevadan in 2003.  The UNLV Lee Business School also inducted him into the Nevada Business Hall of Fame in 2011 for his leadership. In recognition of their significant philanthropic gifts to UNLV, Snyder and his wife Dee were inducted into UNLV’s Palladium Society in 2009. The Clark County School District also recognized the couple’s ongoing contributions to advance education when it opened the Don and Dee Snyder Elementary School in January, 2018.

Snyder has been actively involved in numerous other businesses, charitable and civic activities in Nevada over his more than 30 years in Southern Nevada. He currently serves on boards for three New York Stock Exchange Companies: Western Alliance Bancorporation (NYSE: WAL); Tutor Perini Corporation (NYSE: TPC); and Switch, Inc. (NYSE: SWCH).

Additionally, Snyder has served on numerous non-profit boards over his time in Nevada.  He presently serves on the boards of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, The Smith Center (Chairman), Nathan Adelson Hospice (past Chairman), and the UNLV Foundation (past Chairman). Snyder also chairs at the Transportation Resource Advisory Committee, a community advisory group for the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission. His past board service includes the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Nevada Resort Association, American Gaming Association, United Way of Southern Nevada (Past Chairman and two-time chairman of the annual fundraising campaign), Nevada Development Authority (past Chairman), Council for a Better Nevada (past Chairman), and Tournament Players Club at Summerlin.

Snyder is a cum laude graduate of the University of Wyoming (1969), with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.  Snyder and his wife, Dee, have been married for more than 46 years, and have three children and three grandchildren.