Press Release

UF alumna receives one of higher education’s most prestigious awards

International organization honors Anita Zucker for service to her alma mater

University of Florida trustee Anita Zucker was honored this year for her “extraordinary” service by the world’s foremost association of higher education advancement professionals. The global Council for Advancement and Support of Education formally recognized Zucker during its annual Summit for Leaders in Advancement in July, held this year in Boston.

The namesake of the university’s interdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and the UF Foundation Board’s incoming chair, Zucker received the council’s prestigious James L. Fisher Award for Distinguished Service to Education in recognition of her strong leadership and longtime philanthropy.

Zucker is a lifetime education advocate. She earned a UF bachelor’s degree in education in 1972 and taught school for 11 years. In 2008, when her husband, Jerry, passed away, she succeeded him as CEO of the Hudson Bay Company and head of the InterTech Group, headquartered in Charleston, S.C. Being true to her personal motto “tikkun olam” (Hebrew for “repair the world”), she has been giving through the university since 1981, and over the years has invested multiple large gifts across campus to support the people UF serves. In 2017, she chaired the university’s “Starting Ahead. Staying Ahead.” national early childhood summit.

“To merely say Anita Zucker is a champion for education is an understatement. Education is entrenched in her soul. She has devoted her life to making the world better through the advancement of education,” UF President Kent Fuchs said.

In addition to the University of Florida, Zucker has held numerous leadership roles in numerous education and philanthropic organizations, including the College of Charleston, Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Clemson University, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, United Way, Yeshiva University and Trident Technical College.

“It is truly special to be recognized by CASE for something so meaningful to me,” Zucker said. “Education is the key to exploring everything that this wonderful world has to offer. It is my honor and privilege to continue to teach and inspire others through my work with the colleges and universities I serve.”

CASE’s James L. Fisher Award for Distinguished Service to Education celebrates individuals, organizations, foundations, corporations or publications for their impact on education nationally or globally, beyond service to a single institution or state. Presented for more than 60 years, the award was renamed in 1986 in honor of CASE’s second president.

Along with July’s CASE recognition, in June Zucker received the international investment firm Ernst & Young’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her entrepreneurship that is “transforming our world.” Since the award program’s founding in 1986, it has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 60 countries.

“Anita is a visionary leader who has tirelessly fought to advance education throughout her career,” UF Advancement Executive Vice President Tom Mitchell said. “She is a champion for our most vulnerable citizens, whether its supporting students from challenging economic backgrounds or her steadfast commitment to our youngest learners. We are so very proud to call her a Florida Gator.”

The University of Florida, the state’s flagship university, serves more than 56,000 students from throughout the United States and many other countries. With five professional schools and 200 research, service and education centers, bureaus and institutes on a single 2,000-acre campus, UF offers educational opportunities matched by only seven universities worldwide. UF alumni total more than 420,000, with alumni residing in every U.S. state and more than 150 nations.