From A to Z: Zachary Zenko to replace Arko Mukherjee as GPSS president


Whitney Lynn/Iowa State Daily

Zachary Zenko will replace Arko Mukherjee as the next Graduate and Professional Student Senate president.

Emily Stearney

Zachary Zenko, the next Graduate and Professional Student Senate president, has his sights set on being a professor. 

Zenko has been at Iowa State for three years working toward a Ph.D. In addition to starting his dissertation, Zenko has also been elected to be next year’s GPSS president.

Zenko’s goals as a graduate student have always been clear. He knew he wanted to work for a university since his freshman year of college.

“My ultimate goal is to become a professor,” Zenko said.

Zenko finished the Preparing Future Faculty program last semester in preparation of entering the faculty workforce after earning his Ph.D. Zenko said his work in GPSS has helped prepare him for his future plans.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Zenko said.  “I recommend it to anyone who wants to become a faculty member.”

After earning his degree, Zenko wants to either go on to do post-doctoral work or enter the workforce as a professor.

Originally from Levittown, Pa., Zenko received an undergraduate degree from Edinboro University and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

His first two degrees are in health and physical education and health physiology. However, Zenko plans to do much more with his degree than what’s listed in the title.

“I don’t want you to think I studied to become a gym teacher,” Zenko said.

Now a Ph.D. student, Zenko specializes in exercise psychology and is beginning to prepare for his dissertation, which he hopes to obtain within a year.

Amid his graduate studies, Zenko said he will remain involved with GPSS.

Zenko has been involved with GPSS for his entire career at Iowa State, and will replace Arko Mukherjee as president for the upcoming academic year.

Zenko started out as a kinesiology senator for two years before becoming vice president of GPSS.

“There’s been a lot of growth in the past couple of years and rather than continue the growth for the sake of growth, I think focusing on quality and establishing well what we already do should be a focus,” Zenko said.

Zenko wants to ensure GPSS is continuing to stay effective as it grows in size.

“The Senate will have its priorities and we’re certainly willing to help with that, but I think it would be healthy to focus on doing well what we already do,” Zenko said.

Zenko said he also hopes the Senate decides to revisit the discussion of representation within the Senate. Current representation is based on academic departments, which is problematic when smaller disciplines do not belong to one particular department, Zenko said.

“We have to disappoint a lot of people now by following our constitution,” Zenko said. “Some people cannot be senators because they don’t have a ‘home’ department.”

Zenko will have to maintain a neutral position on issues presented at GPSS meetings, but hopes to continue to see, at least attempted, improvement of current policies.

As vice president, Zenko was the chair of the rules committee and helped organize socials and new graduate student orientations in the fall and spring. Zenko was also in charge of running GPSS meetings.

With graduate studies and continuing to serve as vice president, Zenko has begun to make preparations for his new title.

Mukherjee and Zenko have started to meet to plan the hand-over of responsibility and plan to do so intermittently as needed. Zenko has also met with Craig Ogilvie, the assistant dean of the graduate college, and plans to meet with the provost every month as needed.

“Zach will be well suited for the position by April,” Mukherjee said after the election process ended.  “I look forward to passing my knowledge onto him over the next month.”

Elections took place at the last meeting, and Zenko is not the only one who will have held more than one executive position.

Cory Kleinheksel, who was the Professional Advancement Grant chair, will take Zenko’s place as vice president, and has served in every executive position except treasurer.

“I’m very pleased to work with the next executive council,” Zenko said.  “We’re all very experienced.”

According to the Senate’s constitution, Zenko will begin his presidency the day after the last GPSS meeting of the semester, which will take place at 7 p.m. April 20 in 1952 Gilman Hall.