President announces retirement during convocation

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Accomplishments include bringing Challenger center to this college.

President Robert Zeigler basks in a 37-second standing ovation after he annouced his retirement Tuesday during convocation in McAllister Fine Arts Center. Many staff and faculty members left the auditorium with teary eyes. Photo by RIley Stephens

President Robert Zeigler basks in a 37-second standing ovation after he annouced his retirement Tuesday during convocation in McAllister Fine Arts Center. Many staff and faculty members left the auditorium with teary eyes. Photo by RIley Stephens

By Katherine Garcia

kgarcia203@student.alamo.edu

President Robert Zeigler announced his retirement effective this summer at the end of convocation today in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.

Zeigler, 75, and a former student of this college, said he started at this college as a history teacher in 1971, adding that since he was 21, he hasn’t been away from the college for more than 10 years.

“I want to stop while I still love it,” he said.

He said in a brief interview that he has no plans to pursue another career after leaving this college. He plans to spend time traveling with his wife.

“My plan is not to have a plan,” he said in an interview after convocation, adding he won’t have to worry about schedules, meetings and deadlines. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

He said he wants to enjoy some free time while he remains in good health.

Zeigler said he will continue to help in this college’s reaffirmation process required every five years by the accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“If we’re not accredited, we’re pretty much toast,” he said.

A quality enhancement plan, generally referred to as QEP, will be developed this spring and submitted in spring 2015. A certification report must be completed by March 2015.

Representatives from the accrediting commission will visit the college in fall 2015 and return a decision by June 2016.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Zeigler entered this college in 1959 and graduated with an A.A. degree in liberal arts, then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and government from Sam Houston State University.

He earned a Ph.D. in history from Texas Tech University with dissertation work on labor unions.

Zeigler has served in administrative roles since 1987.

A former Faculty Senate chair, Zeigler was tapped by then President Ruth Burgos-Sasser as vice president in 1993.

When Burgos-Sasser left in 1996, Zeigler became interim president until Vern Loland was hired and served 1998-2002.

Zeigler was given a choice by then Chancellor Robert Ramsay to serve as interim president during a national search or apply for the president’s post.
He opted to stay put.

Zeigler followed Loland as president in summer 2002.

His accomplishments include championing a public-private partnership to build Tobin Lofts, the first residential facility at an Alamo College. The student residential facility opened in the fall, and apartments available to faculty and staff along with a parking garage are still under construction.

Zeigler also led the push to bring a Challenger Learning Center to this campus when Brooks Air Force based closed its original Southeast Side location.

The $5 million project includes an expansion of Scobee Planetarium, named for the commander of the space shuttle Challenger who attended this college while stationed in San Antonio in the early 1960s.

While astronaut Lt. Colonel Richard “Dick” Scobee was a student here, the college opened the planetarium, which has educated and entertained thousands of students of all ages across South Texas.

Scobee was killed along with six others when the Challenger exploded on re-entry Feb. 1, 2003, spreading debris across the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
Zeigler said fundraising efforts from private sources had achieved about $4 million so far.

The president is also noted for his baking skills, often providing a rum cake for College Council meetings.

Correction:

Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Scobee was killed Jan. 28, 1986, when the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch.

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