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Ferris Board Chair Snead Earns Giants Award

Ronald E. Snead Sr.Ronald E. Snead Sr. recalled that his father once received a Giants Award for his achievements as an African American.

Twenty years later, elected chairman of Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees on Nov. 5, Snead follows in the footsteps of his father as a proud recipient of a Giants Award from the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Diversity Learning Center at Grand Rapids Community College. Snead was named a 2011 recipient of the William Glenn Trailblazer Award – two decades after his father received the Martha Reynolds Labor Award.

This year’s Giants Banquet and Awards XXIX will be held Jan. 29 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

“I understand the premise behind the GIANTS Awards that a lot of African Americans have not been recognized for what they have done in the community and I think it’s a great idea to do this and have such recognition,” said Snead, who will be unable to attend the banquet due to a prior commitment, but will have his wife and sons accept the award on his behalf. “My goal one day is that we will have community awards that there won’t be awards based on gender or race.”

The description of the Trailblazer award is as follows: Mr. Glenn made his voice heard for the cause of civil liberties. In 1941, he was one of the first African-American employees in a Grand Rapids war-production factory. He played an active role in getting all Grand Rapids war-production plants open to hiring African-Americans, in planning the Campau Housing Project and in demanding the city take a stand against dilapidated housing. In 1972, he was honored by the ACLU for his lifelong actions to follow the basic intent of the Bill of Rights. Last year’s recipient of the William Glenn Trailblazer Award was Lauri Parks.

Snead, of Greenville, was one of more than a dozen individuals recognized by the Woodrick Diversity Learning Center with Giants awards.

“Giants come in all sizes and all shapes and there are many in the community of Grand Rapids and all over who are making great contributions and doing things behind the scenes that help people,” said Snead, the first African-American graduate of Ferris and second African American to chair the board. “We have to give back to this community. With the changing demographics in this country, diversity is more important than ever.”

Snead was first appointed to Ferris’ board in 2005 by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and will complete an eight-year term as a trustee in 2012. He has had the honor of working with nine of the university’s 18 presidents since his days as an undergraduate to the present.

For more information about the Giants awards or the Woodrick Diversity Learning Center, contact Christina Arnold at (616) 234-3390.