President Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D., with students on the Thomas More University campus


On Dec. 10, 2023, Judith Marlowe, Ph.D., Thomas More Board of Trustees chair announced that Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D., the 15th president of the University, has accepted a new five-year employment agreement, retaining his transformational, mission-driven leadership through 2028.

Chillo arrived at Thomas More in 2019 and it was evident from the start that he excelled as a servant leader. As president, he has led the University to notable achievements in academics, fundraising, and institutional development. During his first four years, Chillo surrounded himself with a capable team which, under his leadership, allowed the University to embark on the ambitious Strategic Plan: Lighting the Way, which focuses on student success, academic innovation, and responsible stewardship. The plan guides the University through 2026 and, as a funding mechanism for the goals outlined, Chillo and his team launched the largest capital campaign in Thomas More’s history. Entitled the Second Century Campaign; It’s time for More, the $30M financial goal was realized three years ahead of schedule, with more than $36M raised to date. It is a testament to his leadership and achievements that for the four years he has been at Thomas More, Cincinnati Magazine has named Chillo as one of the top 300 business leaders in the Cincinnati area. 

“I am grateful to serve a community that is deeply rooted in the foundational values of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and champions the transformative power of the liberal arts,” says Chillo. “As we continue to navigate the complexities of higher education in an ever-evolving market, our mission will continue to guide our trajectory towards our collective goals. Being mission-driven and understanding the challenges your organization faces today and those it will face tomorrow requires you to develop a strategy that’s agile and results focused.”

When speaking about the new agreement, Marlowe cites the board’s high regard for Chillo, “As the Catholic University of the Diocese of Covington, Thomas More needs a visionary leader who builds upon the distinguished legacy of this University by identifying and pursuing exciting opportunities that reinforce and advance our reputation for excellence in Catholic liberal arts education. President Chillo is committed to service, collaboration, equity, and student success.  He not only embodies those values; he actively seeks and implements new initiatives combined with intentional, strategic guidance to achieve positive results.” She adds, “This five-year agreement ensures the University will continue to benefit from his vigorous, transformative leadership aimed at achieving the bold goals in the Strategic Plan; Lighting the Way and continued funding for these and other significant plans that will enable Thomas More to thrive and serve our students and the community in the years ahead.”

In addition to introducing the strategic plan and achieving capital campaign goals, Chillo has been instrumental in introducing many initiatives and innovations since his arrival including: the Zembrodt Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship; the Education VILLA (through the School of Education); the Center for Faith, Mission, and Catholic Education, naming of both the Robert W. Plaster College of Business and St. Elizabeth College of Health and Natural Sciences; transitioning the athletics program to NCAA Division II; increasing the physical size of campus with the acquisition of area properties; current construction of a new academic center; and introduction of an updated core curriculum to name just a few successes. Under his leadership, the University’s net assets have grown to more than $100M. This growth is also evident in the expansion of the University’s footprint, which has increased in total acreage by 9% and total square footage by more than 24%.Chillo looks forward to advancing the goals set in the strategic plan and leading the University toward an innovative future with new initiatives. “I am truly honored and excited to continue the work that we set out to accomplish. We have taken a number of steps to increase enrollment, grow our endowment, expand the size of our campus, and create an exciting vision for the second century of Thomas More University for our students, alumni, faculty, and staff,” says Chillo. “Over the next five years, we plan to expand and elevate the University as the region’s premier Catholic Liberal Arts University through the development of new academic programs, academic and athletic facilities, and the continued focus on a mission-driven educational experience for our students. This ensures a dynamic and distinctive experience for our students as they benefit from a values-based Catholic education. I truly believe that a college education isn’t supposed to be a hoop to jump through or a box to check in order to get a good job. Education is a transformative endeavor, not a transactional exchange. It is a community, not a commodity.”

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About Thomas More University
Founded in 1921, Thomas More University stands as a beacon of academic excellence and innovation, challenging students to Make It More. Deeply rooted in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, this timeless foundation supports a transformative educational experience as students looking to Be More are guided in the pursuit of knowledge, ethical leadership, and the integration of faith and reason. Through the high-quality, liberal arts education provided at Thomas More, students examine the ultimate meaning of life, their place in the world, and their responsibility to others which leads to the ability to think critically and contribute meaningfully to the world. Serving more than 2,000 students, Thomas More takes its place as the premier Catholic university in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, being named one of the 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal. To find out more, visit

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