Video: Alumnus Supports College With $4.5M Charitable Gift Annuity

Over the course of his career as an engineer, Larry Snider (BSIE '55) lived and worked all around the world. Larry and his wife, Gerri, have called many places "home," from California and Iran, to Ohio and Pakistan. Yet no matter where his career took him, Larry said there was one place he always returned to: the University of Houston.

"My education at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering has helped me and my family in so many ways," Larry said. "That's why we feel it is so important to give back to the University that has given us so much."

Larry and Gerri decided to support the UH Cullen College of Engineering with a testamentary charitable gift annuity in the amount of $4.5 million. The gift is unique in that it allows the Sniders to provide an annual income to both of their adult daughters throughout their lifetimes. "This plan for supporting the University is really a win-win," Larry said.

A charitable gift annuity is a contract between a donor and UH wherein the donor agrees to make a gift to the University while also agreeing to pay a designated beneficiary a fixed amount each year for the rest of their life.

"You can give money to the University and at the same time use that money to fund a charitable gift annuity, which pays an income to your children all of their lifetimes," he said. "Your children get a current income every year during their lives, and when they pass, the residuum of the annuity goes to the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering."

The Sniders have specified exactly how the residuum will be used once it is transferred to the Cullen College. The first funding priority is for an endowed department chair. The remainder of the funds will go towards funding professorships and full-time scholarships.

The Sniders said they felt it was particularly important to share the news about their gift to the Cullen College in order to raise awareness among alumni who may not have known such a gift agreement was a possibility.

"If God has blessed you with financial success as he has done us, we would like to invite you to consider investigating whether establishing a charitable gift annuity is a good fit for your portfolio, as the Cullen College would really benefit from having many more alumni establish these win-win gift agreements," Larry said.

In addition to their most recent gift, the Sniders have supported the University of Houston and its Cullen College of Engineering by funding scholarships.

The R. Larry and Gerri R. Snider Native American Scholarship, established by the Sniders in 2003, offers $10,000 per year to any engineering student entering their sophomore year or above who is a citizen of a federally recognized tribe. Larry is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and gives preference to Cherokee student applicants.

In 2009, the Sniders also established two other scholarships at the Cullen College. Named after their daughters, the Melody Kathryn and Becky Snider Women in Industrial Engineering scholarships are available to female engineering students.

"We've always felt that education is so important, and it has helped us in so many ways," Gerri said. "We hope that this gift will help a bunch of people."

The Sniders said they feel very passionate about supporting hard working students who have to put themselves through college, as they can personally relate to such a struggle. Larry worked 40 hours per week while attending the Cullen College full-time. Gerri also worked full-time and managed their household.

After five years at the Cullen College, Larry earned his bachelor's degree in process engineering, a combination of industrial and chemical engineering. From there, Larry's engineering career took him around the world, moving his family a total of 35 times. He has worked for Sheffield Steel Corp., Kaiser Steel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Peat Marwick & Mitchell, Sterling Electronics, RAPOCA Energy, Korn Ferry International, and Coopers and Lybrand. Upon his retirement in 1995, Larry established RLS Professional Services LLC.

Larry received the UH Engineering Alumni Association's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award in 1991 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. He and Gerri are also members of Cullen College Bridge Builder Society.