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DAA: William T. Boehm

William T. Boehm


Cincinnati, OH


William T. Boehm earned master’s (1972) and doctorate (1974) degrees from Purdue in Agricultural Economics. He is Vice President of Logistics with The Kroger Company. Here are some of his thoughts on education, career, and life: How he decided to come to Purdue: “I decided on Purdue on the strength of the faculty and the history of the department. There were all these big names like Earl Butz, Don Paarlberg, and Charlie French, and if you knew anything about Ag Econ, you knew that these guys were like the winners of the Super Bowl. Being recruited to join a team that had won the Super Bowl was pretty exciting.” On his early life influences: “I was born and raised on a little dairy farm in central Wisconsin, and I learned all the lessons life that teaches you, like contributing, working hard, and having personal accountability. From the time I was a sophomore in high school, I knew I wanted to go to grad school and get a Ph.D. degree in Ag Econ and I never deviated from that. I thought there was great significance in being involved in something that fed people.” On the value of his Purdue degrees: “I have been extremely lucky in my career. I spent time as a faculty member, and I learned a lot from the academic environment. I also spent four years in Washington, D.C., and learned about how government works. For 18 years, I’ve been at Kroger where I have actually been involved in making the food system work. In each case what I’ve been able to learn as I’ve earned a living is the most important part.” His philosophy of life: “This philosophy comes from my dad, and it’s that the harder I work, the luckier I get. I really believe in working and learning and that each of us has a responsibility to develop and use the talents the good Lord gave us. It’s that simple, and the rest takes care of itself.” On the future: “Personally, my wife and I would like to retire and live on a sailboat. If possible, I’d also like to spend some time giving back in a university environment. “As for the future of agriculture, there’s still a lot that needs to be done in order to feed a growing world population. But, it’s important to remember that I came of age professionally believing there was going to be a huge world food crisis, and the fact is, the miracle of agriculture, with increased productivity and technology has changed that. It’s been great to witness and be a part of that. “My hope for the future is that we can build on that progress and go forward. The main problem I see is an imbalance of distribution more than a shortage of resources, but I am optimistic that the science of agriculture and the people who practice it are going to figure out a way to make it all work. I’m a real optimist about the future as it relates to our industry.” On his best Purdue memory: “My best Purdue memory is arguments in the coffee room. For those of us who graduated with Ag Econ Ph.D.’s in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a very stimulating, high quality, open academic environment. There wasn’t a better Ag Econ education in the country. Grad students were expected to challenge the faculty, so we learned how to debate and express our ideas. It wasn’t book learning so much, although you’d better be able to do those mathematical calculations, but you’d also better be able to stand up and defend what you did in an open forum that didn’t have anything to do with the classroom. Applying those skills-thinking though a problem, shaping it, analyzing it, selling it-that’s how people succeed.” Boehm/Highlights Highlights Education B.S., Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 1970 M.S., Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, 1972 Ph.D., Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, 1974 Career 1981-present The Kroger Co. Vice President, Logistics Vice President, Grocery Procurement Vice President, Corporate Planning and Research Director of Economic Research 1979-1981 President’s Council of Economic Advisors Senior Economist for Food & Agriculture 1976-79 United States Department of Agriculture Branch Manager, Food Economics, Economic Research Service 1974-1976 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics Honors and Associations Chairman, National FFA Foundation Sponsors’ Board, 1999 National Board of Directors, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity Board of Directors, People Working Cooperatively International Food & Agribusiness Management Association Alpha Zeta Centennial Honor Roll, 1997 Cincinnati United Way Appeal Cabinet, 1991 Family Dr. Boehm and his wife, Debbie, met in Wisconsin when she was the State President of the Future Homemakers of America and he was the State President of Future Farmers of America. They were married while he was at Purdue, and lived in married student housing by the golf course. Debbie worked as secretary in the Poultry Science Department and took courses at Purdue to finish her degree in Sociology. Today Debbie is an event planner and does volunteer work in Cincinnati. They have two children. Adam, 24, is a senior at the University of Cincinnati, studying communications and public affairs. Andrew, 19, is sophomore at Dennison, studying communications. Both are better golfers than their dad. Display quote/Boehm “I decided on Purdue on the strength of the faculty and the history of the department. There were all these big names like Earl Butz, Don Paarlberg, and Charlie French, and if you knew anything about Ag Econ, you knew that these guys were like the winners of the Super Bowl. Being recruited to join a team that had won the Super Bowl was pretty exciting.”