Portrait of Maurice H. Halstead

James C. Snyder

Purdue agricultural economics Professor James C. Snyder was a pioneer in applying modern quantitative decision procedures and computer modeling to the problems of agricultural businesses in what is now a common practice.

His research contributed to the use of quantitative approaches to decision making in the management of agribusiness firms and the practical application of management-decision models designed to automate and improve business decisions. He successfully developed a compacted matrix approach to solving large and complex computer problems for the purpose.

His design of functional programs for management decisions made him an in-demand consultant in the agricultural industry and further gave him insights and opportunities to make his work relevant to everyday business needs. He began his work as a doctoral student, during which time he became excited about the potential use of management-decision models for agribusiness. In recognition of the excellence of his Ph.D. research, he received a thesis award from the American Farm Economics Association (now the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association), the first such award earned by a Purdue student.

Professor Snyder, who joined Purdue’s Agricultural Economics staff in 1957 as an instructor, was also known for his teaching. He became a faculty member after completing his doctorate at the University, attained the rank of full professor in 1969, and was named teacher of the year in recognition of his outstanding undergraduate instruction in business management.

He also was recognized as a master teacher of graduate students, whose personalized and rigorous training qualified those who worked with him for leading positions in business, education and government. He was known for making research exciting to his students.

Professor Snyder was born March 31, 1930, in Ontario, Canada. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Ontario Agricultural College in 1953. He came to Purdue for graduate study and earned his master’s in 1956 and his doctorate in 1962. From 1954 to 1961, he also served as a visiting professor at Goshen College in northern Indiana.

The James C. Snyder Memorial Lecture, the signature event of Purdue’s Agricultural Economics Department, was established in 1975 in honor of Professor Snyder, who died in 1974.