CORRECTION-In the March 8 issue of the Pacific Index, a story about Politics and Government Professor Paul Snell with the headline “Snell receives tenure from university in first year” reported incorrect information.
The article reported “Snell is also the first African American professor to acquire tenure at Pacific within the last 20 years.” However, Snell has not yet received tenure from the university, and instead is on the first year of his tenure track.-CORRECTION
When Politics and Government professor Paul Snell first stepped on Pacific University’s campus, he was reminiscent of his own liberal arts experience at Claremont Mckenna College. He was captivated by Pacific’s warm and open-minded atmosphere.
“The relationships between, not only my committee, but between everyone and how other colleagues treated each other were major aspects of why I came to Pacific,” Snell said.
In his first seven months, Snell has made a great impression on students and is known for his enthusiastically engaging lectures. Snell first discovered his interest in politics while watching former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearing.
This would later provoke him to read Henry Kissinger’s Diplomacy, at the age of 16. Prior to coming to Pacific, Snell taught at the University of Minnesota and taught fourth grade for Teach For America in California.
“Some still don’t know how to follow directions but that’s alright,” Snell laughed, when asked about the differences in the two experiences. “There are
actually a lot more similarities than you’d think. Teaching is more of the student taking ownership. The more active you are in your education the better.”
Snell is currently one of the only African American professors at Pacific.
“It’s expected,” Snell said. “At my liberal arts college there were only two black professors and where I grew up, I was always the only black student in my AP classes and even in grad school, so I am pretty used to it.”
When discussing education in African American communities, Snell finds there is an emphasis to do well in school but there is a lack of role models for
many young black students.
“It’s not that they don’t value education,” Snell said. “They actually want to work harder than most people in order to get out of their situation, but if they don’t see the way to do it, it doesn’t seem feasible to them. My parents went to college and emphasized education but a lot of my aunts and uncles didn’t go to college, so my cousins felt it wasn’t possible for them
because their parents weren’t around.”
Snell also wants to become more heavily involved with the LGBTQ+ community on campus, as he identifies as gay and specializes in studying politics within that realm. He finds it ironic that he is always asked to teach about race when his studies are in the field of LGBTQ+ politics.
Nonetheless, he takes on whatever course is necessary to further a student’s
education to think about the world of politics.
In such a short period of time, he has already become a favorite professor of many students and influenced them to become more involved in the Politics department.