Xavier Magazine

A Force for Growth

Michael J. Conaton is a tough act to follow. In September, Conaton stepped down after 18 years as chairman of the University’s board of trustees, ending an era in which he helped guide the University to unprecedented growth.

He is succeeded by Joseph A. Pichler, retired chairman and chief executive officer of The Kroger Co. Conaton, the retired president and vice chairman of The Midland Co., came to the University in 1951 on a football scholarship. He graduated in 1955 and went directly into the United States’ Marine Corps, where he served as a lieutenant. In 1972, he began the first of two tours of duty on the University’s board, serving until 1978, and again from 1985 to this year. One year later, he began his tenure as the longest-sitting board chair in University history.

Conaton’s service to the University is legendary: He is an executive in residence in Xavier’s Williams College of Business, has served on athletic board and has held a variety of offices, including president of the national alumni association and a nine-month term as interim University president.

He also chaired or co-chaired major University development efforts during the Cornerstone and Century campaigns, and established the Michael Conaton Family Scholarship Fund to ensure that future generations benefit from a Xavier education.

Conaton’s reputation for being faithful, upright and fair, a man of balanced judgment, compassionate heart and eagerness to serve, continues to make him much sought after by those who would see their causes succeed. He will remain an active force at the University, focusing his expertise and experience to future development efforts.

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