Joseph Pichler named chairman of Xavier board

Former Kroger chairman replaces Michael Conaton, who led the University's board of trustees since 1986 | September 24, 2004

Joseph A. Pichler, retired chairman and chief executive officer of The Kroger Co., was appointed chairman of the Xavier University board of trustees on Friday, Sept. 24. He replaces Michael J. Conaton, who served as chairman since 1986.

“It’s a great privilege to accept the chairmanship, but not to succeed Mike Conaton," says Pichler. "No one can succeed Mike. He has led us through one of the greatest periods in Xavier history and I will do my best to succeed him successfully.”

Pichler joined the University's board of trustees in 1993. He retired from Kroger in July.

“Mike Conaton is certainly a tough act to follow, so we are so fortunate to have someone of Joe’s caliber in this position,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. “The experience he brings as a professor, business innovator and community leader will greatly impact the future of Xavier University.”

Pichler earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and taught for 15 years at the University of Kansas School of Business, serving as dean from 1974-1980. He joined Dillon Cos. in Kansas as executive vice president in 1980, three years before its merger with Kroger. He was elected chairman and CEO of Kroger in 1990.

Pichler is involved in numerous civic and charitable organizations throughout Cincinnati including Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. and the Cincinnati Business Committee. Earlier this year, Pichler was awarded the 2004 Hall of Achievement Award by the Grocery Manufacturers of America.

University officials also announced the addition of two new board members: John C. Lechleiter, executive vice president of pharmaceutical operations for the Eli Lilly Corporation, and John LaRocca, S.J., a professor in Xavier's department of history.