Charles Zwick, UM Trustee who Balanced the Budget Under LBJ

By UM News

Charles Zwick, UM Trustee who Balanced the Budget Under LBJ

By UM News
Zwick was a passionate Hurricanes fan, philanthropist, and former banker.

Charles ZwickIt was quite a predicament for a budget director. Facing pressure from conservative politicians who demanded cuts in social welfare programs, Charles Zwick also had to deal with his boss’s wishes to protect those Great Society domestic programs and abate budgetary pressures caused by a controversial war.

But Zwick handled the competing sides with skill, coming up with a plan for a tax surcharge that resulted in a $3.2 billion surplus.

Zwick, a University of Miami trustee, philanthropist and former banker who, as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under President Lyndon B. Johnson engineered the only balanced federal budget until the Clinton administration, died April 20 in Coral Gables, Florida. He was 91.

“From civic affairs to service to his country to business, Charles Zwick was a giant in the South Florida community,” said UM Senior Trustee Chuck Cobb. “He was an incredibly smart economist and a very unique person in American history in the sense of what he accomplished as President Johnson’s budget director. And he was a good trustee. When I was chairman of UM’s Board of Trustees, I called on Charlie frequently. He was someone I admired, worked with, and had great affection for. We’ll miss him.”

Charles John Zwick was born on July 17, 1926, on his family’s farm in Southington, Connecticut, just across the street from the one-room schoolhouse where he would later attend grade school.

As a freshman at the University of Connecticut, Zwick earned an A in an economics class, prompting him to discover his calling. “I said, ‘Gee, that is pretty good. Maybe that is what I ought to be, an economist,’ ” Zwick once recalled.

But before he completed his studies at UConn, Zwick enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a military policeman in Tokyo during the occupation of Japan. Following his military service, he returned to the University of Connecticut to finish his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics in 1950 and 1951. He earned his doctorate from Harvard while teaching economics at the Ivy League school.

Zwick later worked for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, from 1956 to 1965, focusing on logistics and research in areas of military programs and economic assistance in Southeast Asia. Following his employment there, he served as a RAND trustee from 1969 to 1999.

Zwick’s stint as an American civil servant began in 1965, when he was named assistant director of the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, now the Office of Management and Budget. He became budget director in 1968, serving in that capacity until President Johnson left office in 1969.

After leaving government service, Zwick served as chairman, president and CEO of Southeast Bank and Southeast Banking Corporation until his retirement in 1991. At Southeast he oversaw its expansion through the peaks and valleys of Florida’s economy for 22 years.

Zwick became a member of the University of Miami Board of Trustees in 1983 and was elected to emeritus status in 2000. He chaired the board’s investments committee from 1990 to 1992, and served on its academic affairs, finance and audit, and medical affairs committees. Zwick also served on the medical school’s subcommittee and on the visiting committees of the former School of International Studies, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, School of Architecture, and College of Engineering.

His generosity to UM includes a gift that named the Charles and Barbara Zwick Reflection Terrace at the Lennar Foundation Medical Center on the Coral Gables campus.

He served as chair of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for seven years, and chaired the United Way of Miami-Dade for three years. He was also a board member of The Aerospace Corporation, MasterCard International, Johns Manville Corporation, and BellSouth, and he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In 1977, at the request of President Jimmy Carter, Zwick chaired the President’s Commission on Military Compensation to review pay, retirement, and military benefits. He was co-author of the so-called “Zwick Report,” a legislatively mandated report for Florida government with ideas for the state to keep up with the exponential growth Florida saw in the late 1980s. 

Zwick loved animals, golf and sailing. He was passionate about the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins football teams, the NBA Miami Heat, and his UConn Huskies.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Collingwood Zwick, and two children, Bob Zwick and Janet Zwick (Tom Finch). Zwick was predeceased by his first wife, Joan Cameron Zwick.

The family requests that donations in Zwick’s memory be made to the Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy, University of Connecticut, 1376 Storrs Road, Suite 305, Storrs CT 06269-4021 or to the United Way of Miami-Dade, 3250 S.W. 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33129.