Ron and Dee Snead couldn’t be more excited and honored to serve as grand marshals for Ferris State University’s 2014 homecoming celebration.
The Sneads, of Greenville, Mich., have maintained a close relationship with the university since Ron attended Ferris beginning in the late 1960s, through his graduation in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Science Education and in the 40-plus years since he earned that degree. Ron and Dee will be celebrated as grand marshals at a number of homecoming events throughout the week, including the annual bonfire on Wednesday, Oct. 1; the Motown Mixer event on Friday, Oct. 3; and the parade, football and hockey games on Saturday, Oct. 4.
More than four decades after Ron was a highly-involved student activist at Ferris, in an era of racial and social tension during the Civil Rights Movement, he continues to express his love for the university. In addition to being an activist for social justice, Ron was also heavily involved in an effort to bring peace to the campus during a time of unrest. This current opportunity for the Sneads to return as grand marshals was a pleasant surprise for an alumnus who notes that he has worked with nine of the 18 Ferris presidents.
“This is quite an honor, for Dee and myself, to return to Ferris … this time as grand marshals of homecoming,” said Ron, who came to Ferris in 1968 with a wife and two sons. “When I look back on my time at Ferris, and all the things that happened during that era, I realize how much Ferris helped me get to where I am today. I became a leader at Ferris and I accomplished things that I never thought that I would accomplish.”
As a Ferris student, Ron was active in academic and social fraternities, he was president of the Ferris chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and vice president of All-College Student Government.
Since his 1971 graduation from Ferris, Ron has continued his mission to help make Ferris the best it can be for all students. He has remained connected with the university that includes service on a range of advisory boards and hiring committees. He was part of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee, The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors and serves on the Jim Crow Museum Board. In 2005, then Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Ron to serve an eight-year term on the Ferris Board of Trustees. As the first African American graduate to serve in that capacity, Snead served that term through 2012 and, for his final two years, was board chair.
The Ferris memories that the Sneads carry with them couldn’t be more evident. Through more than four decades, the Sneads have compiled a lifetime of memories through an online scrapbook and a well-maintained physical scrapbook that is about half a foot thick. The scrapbooks tell his story of a lifetime – everything from his youthful days, to his activism and education at Ferris, life after graduation and more. Those memories remain quite vivid for the Sneads. This particular opportunity to return to Ferris, where he was an activist for civil rights more than 40 years ago, is a special one.
Ron noted that he is looking forward to every part of returning to his alma mater for homecoming. Although he is frequently on campus, living not too far away in Greenville, this return will be extra special.
“Dee and I are both really excited for all of it … everything that has to do with homecoming,” said Ron, a Grand Rapids native, who received Ferris’ Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995. “We’re looking forward to the bonfire, mixer, parade, tailgating events, football and hockey … all of it. I think Ferris is back in football, and I’m really excited about the hockey team, with the great success it has been having, taking on Michigan. There’s no doubt that this is going to be a great week and weekend for us and for all of Ferris.”
Ron smiled, “We’re going to enjoy every minute of it.”
For more information about all of the homecoming events, visit here.