The Passing of Stephen D. Sneed

To the Williams community,

I write today with sad news of a retired staff member who has passed away. Stephen D. Sneed, who served as associate dean of the college for 23 years, died on Sunday, October 28, in Williamstown. He was 69.

Stephen arrived at Williams in 1993 and worked with, guided, and counseled hundreds of students during his tenure. A devoted member of team in the dean of the college’s office, he cared deeply about students’ success both academically and socially, and maintained relationships with those he mentored throughout his life. At Williams, Stephen developed programs to advance diversity in education and acted as a liaison with student organizations and campus committees that supported the needs of underrepresented students. In addition, he oversaw such programs as the Ford-Mellon Research Scholar Program for Minority Students and developed orientation programs for students of color.

Both an administrator and a scholar, Stephen offered guidance to each of the five faculty deans he worked with, and served as a mentor to and colleague with numerous assistant and associate deans. “I’ll be thinking of Williams today and all those whose Stephen helped, especially his closest colleagues and the many students who thrived and graduated because of his devotion,” says Sarah Bolton, former Dean of the College and current president at the College of Wooster.

His strong sense of community and desire to better students’ lives extended beyond the college. In 2003 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach part-time in the education department of Chancellor College in Zomba, Malawi, and conduct a comparative study of teaching methods in Malawi and the U.S. When Stephen retired in August 2016 he returned to Malawi, where he taught through that fall. At home in the Berkshires, his civic commitments included the Williamstown Youth Center, the Berkshire Food Project, the YMCA, and Child Care of the Berkshires.

In his spare time, Stephen enjoyed playing racquetball, watching college sports, procuring African art, fishing, and detailing his car. He also loved year-round barbecuing, road trips to visit loved ones, and family reunions.

Stephen’s father, Fred Sneed, predeceased him. He is survived by his mother, Ophelia Sneed; his sisters, Sheilda and Rhonda Jivers; his wife, Frances Jones-Sneed; nine children, Stephen James, Jamal Mangrum, Kamweli Wilson, Amina Wilson, Kareem Sneed, Kesha Sneed, Stacy Sneed, Stephanie Sneed, and James Sneed; 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; and many other family and friends.

A memorial service for Stephen Sneed will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 10:30 a.m., at the First Congregational Church of Williamstown.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memorial donations to The United Negro College Fund or The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Our thoughts are with Stephen’s family and friends.


Maud S. Mandel
Professor of History; Program in Jewish Studies