Kroger chairman to speak on experiences

Aaron Mudd

Students will get the chance to hear from David Dillon, the chairman for Kroger’s board of directors, on April 10. Dillon’s visit is thanks, in part, to communications professor Cecile Garmon. When Garmon first met Dillon at a leadership conference, she asked him to come speak to WKU students. 

“I thought he was so energetic, so charming and so nice and he’s not very far away,” she said. “So I said ‘You need to come to Western Kentucky University sometime.’ And he said ‘I might just do that.’”

Dillon will speak as part of the Hays Watkins Visiting CEO lecture series in Grise Hall Auditorium at 2:00 p.m. A reception will follow Dillon’s speech, planned to begin at 4:30 p.m. The dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business, Jeffrey Katz, said that the annual event is funded by a donation from Watkins.


“Hays Watkins was a graduate of the old Bowling Green Business University that then has become what we know today as the Gordon Ford College of Business,” Katz said. “He was the president and chairman of the board of CSX Railway before he retired.” 

Dillon’s lecture is entitled “Is anyone following you?” Garmon said that his presentation will focus on his experience leading Kroger and what that has taught him.

“He’ll talk about leadership and some of the issues that people face in leading huge companies now,” she said. “One of the things that I asked him to talk about is what kind of characteristics or kind of capabilities would he expect students that he hires to have.”

The reception after his lecture will be held at the Augenstein Alumni Center.

“Usually at these events local business people come in and students have a chance to interact with them,” Garmon said. “It is a networking opportunity for students.”

Garmon is looking forward to Dillon’s lecture herself. 

“I hope I will get some pointers on things that I should be teaching,” she said. “I’ve been teaching for 53 years now, and it’s easy to spend all your life in the academy and not really pay much attention to what’s going on outside, but to hear people tell us what they want students to know is really very helpful.”

She imagines that students studying business, leadership and communication will be particularly interested in the presentation. 

“I would hope people would come because they’d like to see what a powerful person is like,” she said. “It would be interesting to see what somebody in a position of power really is like.”

Garmon also thinks that Dillon’s interpersonal skills are something everyone can learn from.

“Being able to connect with people, and to make other people feel comfortable, is a very good characteristic to have,” she said.