Snyder '85 Wins Pulitzer as Part of “Inquirer” Team

Posted on 4/17/2012 11:57:38 AM

Susan Snyder, a 1985 IUP Journalism graduate, was part of a team at the Philadelphia Inquirer that won the Pulitzer Prize for public service on April 16, 2012.

The Inquirer won the award for its series “Assault on Learning,” about violence in Philadelphia schools. (See thePhiladelphia Inquirerfor the full story.) Snyder is the Inquirer's higher education reporter.

"She was in my copy editing class. She took my sports journalism class. I almost came to tears when I heard," Randy Jesick, chair of the Journalism Department, said. He noted that Snyder will be the keynote speaker at the department's commencement ceremony on May 12.

Pat Heilman was Snyder's News Reporting professor in 1984 and recalls Snyder's reporting: "Susan was a thorough reporter and researcher even then. Her three-part series on what ever happened to civil defense, which she produced for that class, was later printed in the Indiana Gazette."

Heilman said she predicted a year ago the investigative series would win the Pulitzer.

"I forwarded that e-mail to Susan last night, along with my congratulations," Heilman said. "The 2011 e-mail read: 'I smell Pulitzer.'"

In the course of her research on contemporary Pennsylvania women journalists, Heilman interviewed Snyder and incorporated the interview and samples of her work into her Women in the Press course materials.

An Allentown, Pa., native, Snyder began her journalism career as a general assignment reporter at the Freeman’s Journal in Cooperstown, N.Y., and then at the Standard-Speaker in Hazleton, Pa. In 1987, she became the education reporter at the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and moved on to a similar position at the Morning Call in Allentown in 1989. She began working at the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1998.

Snyder holds numerous journalism awards, including the 2007 National Headline Award (first place for Education Writing) for her series, “Writing for Their Lives.” In 2007, she also won the Education Writers Association first place award for breaking or hard news for the story “Amish Schoolhouse Shootings.” Also in 2007, she won the Citation for Excellence in the “Let’s Do It Better Competition” from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism for the “Writing for Their Lives” series. And, again in 2007, she won first place in the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors Feature Writing category for her “Writing for Their Lives” series. In 2006, she won a second place Keystone award for the feature story “Guardian Angel.”

Snyder's team was also recognized for the “Assault on Learning” series when it received the Weiss Award for Investigative Journalism last month.

This is the Inquirer's 19th Pulitzer Prize.