Anita Zucker (BAE ’72) receives Distinguished Alumni Award

portrait of Anita ZuckerIt’s difficult to pin a label on College of Education graduate Anita Zucker (BAE ’72), this year’s University of Florida Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. She is a former educator, a lifetime education advocate, a committed philanthropist, a history-making businesswoman, and one of Charleston, South Carolina’s leading citizens.

UF President Bernie Machen presented Zucker with the award at the university’s fall undergraduate commencement program Dec. 19, at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Anita and her late husband, Jerry Zucker, both received bachelor’s degrees from UF in 1972—Anita in education and Jerry with a triple major in math, chemistry and physics. Anita, who taught elementary school for 10 years, also has a master’s in educational administration and supervision.

With Anita always clinging to her education roots, the Zuckers became pillars of the Charleston community through their business acumen, community service and involvement in the city’s Jewish community. While Jerry was turning a small holding company, called InterTech Group Inc., into a global empire, Anita emerged as one of Charleston’s top civic leaders, including a term as president of the Charleston Metro Chamber Commerce.

Anita Zucker was one of the founders of the Charleston Metro Chamber’s Education Foundation. In 2005, she was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford to the Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council of the State. She is on the advisory board of the Charleston Area HUB for Math, Science and Technology, based at the College of Charleston, which works with practicing teachers and student-teachers to enhance their classroom teaching skills in those fields. In 2007, she was appointed to the Trident Technical College Area Commission by the legislative delegation.

Zucker has served on the board of Jewish Studies, Inc., which built the Jewish Studies Building at the College of Charleston, and she also is past president of the Charleston Jewish Federation and a member of the Committee for the Holocaust Memorial at Marion Square.

When Jerry Zucker died of cancer in 2008, Anita succeeded her husband as governor (company chair) and chief executive officer of the Hudson Bay Company, North America’s oldest company, which Jerry Zucker had purchased in 2006. HBC, created by British royal charter in 1670 as a fur-trading venture, today is best known for its department stores throughout Canada. Anita is the company’s first woman chief executive.

She also became CEO of the family’s InterTech company, and owns the Carolina Ice Palace and 50 percent of the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League.

For her dedication to education, Zucker has received the “Order of the Palmetto” presented by South Carolina Gov. David Beasley, and an honorary Doctorate of Education degree presented by the Citadel in May 1998.

Zucker is chair of the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation and a past chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Hollings Cancer Center. She currently chairs the inaugural Tiffany Circle in Charleston, a national women’s society established by the Red Cross and has received the Service Above Self Award from the Rotary Club of Charleston.

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   Writer: Larry Lansford, COE News & Communications;