Graduation 2002

Laureation Mr Sheridan Snyder - by Professor Sir Philip Cohen

Nomination of Sheridan Snyder for an honorary doctorate

Chancellor, I have the honour to present for the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa Mr Sheridan Snyder, who is a legendary entrepreneurial figure in the biotechnology industry and philanthropist, who has also made important contributions to the development of the game of tennis. Sherry Snyder was born in 1936 and brought up on Long Island in New York State.

He graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in 1958, majoring in French. During this period, he was the number one tennis player at the University of Virginia and reached the last 32 at the US National Championship, the quarter finals of the men's doubles and also played at Wimbledon. Even in the 1970's, long after he had retired from competitive tennis, he reached the third round of the men's doubles at the US Open, partnering his friend Chuck McKinley, the 1962 Wimbledon champion, only then losing in five sets to Bob Hewitt and Ray Moore the Wimbledon champions.

Although Sherry stopped playing top flight international tennis in 1960, he went on to make major contributions to the popularisation of tennis in the USA. In 1968 and 1969, he arranged the corporate programme to finance the first U.S. Open Tennis Championship at Forest Hills, while serving as the championship's Vice Chairman. Even more importantly, and with the encouragement of his great friends Arthur Ashe, the former Wimbledon Champion, and Charlie Passarel, he founded in 1968, and ran for the next 15 years, the US National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) for underprivileged children. The NJTL started in Harlem, New York on 155th street and developed into the largest organised junior recreational programme in the inner cities of the USA.

In the 32 years since the programme was initiated, NJTL (which is now run by the United States Tennis Association) has introduced tennis in its eight week summer programme to over 5 million young people in 110 cities. Venus and Serena Williams are two of the more recent products of this programme. A determining point for Sherry came in 1960 when he discovered on the death of his father that the family business had been far less successful than he had realised. It was his determination to turn it around that launched his own career in business. The first company he set up in 1964, Cambridge Mailing Machines, manufactured high speed envelope inserting machines.

Remarkably, this company and all the other 11 he launched subsequently are all still going strong and some have been hugely successful. For example, Instapak, which he founded in 1971, and markets a new form of industrial packaging whereby liquid urethane is injected into a package and expands to 120 times its original volume in 15 seconds to form a complete protective barrier for heavy, fragile, technical equipment, now has sales of £500 mllion per year and it is the largest division of the Sealed Air Corporation.

It was in 1981, that Sherry was challenged to set up a biotechnology company by a Ed Glassmeyer, Venture Capitalist who wanted to get into what was, at the time an embryonic industry. This led him to set up Genzyme in 1981, which is now the world's third biggest biotechnology company. It is the largest private company in Boston Massachusetts where it employs 4,800 people, as well as 2,000 in the United Kingdom. Genzyme has annual sales of £350 million and its market capitalisation is greater than £5 billion.

It was in 1996 that Sherry Snyder founded the company now called Upstate Incorporated in Charlottesville Virginia of which he is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. In this capacity, he founded Upstate Ltd in Dundee in 1999, building on the successful relationship between Upstate Inc. and the MRC Unit at the University of Dundee. The company is growing rapidly and already employs nearly 40 people. The sales of University of Dundee products by Upstate totalled over £2 million in 2001 and will exceed £3.5 million in 2002.

As one of the pioneers of the Biotechnology Industry, his interest in Dundee is of great significance for the emerging Biotechnology Industry in Dundee. Sherry Snyder has been a major fundraiser and supporter for the University of Virginia. His philanthropic activities have included substantial donations to set up a Technology Centre and the Snyder Tennis Centre at the University. He also aids new start-up technology companies through the Charlottesville Tomorrow organisation Sherry Snyder's success in sport, his remarkable entrepreneurship from which Dundee is now benefitting, and his generosity make him an outstanding role model for our undergraduates.

Chancellor, I have the honour to invite you to confer upon Sheridan Snyder the degree of Doctor of Laws.

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