NEW YORK — Joseph R. Gromek, former president and chief executive officer of Warnaco Group Inc., has been named chairman of The New School.

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

He succeeds Michael J. Johnston, who was elected chair in 2009.

Gromek became a trustee at The New School in 2011 but began his leadership role in 2005, when he was elected to the Board of Governors of Parsons The New School for Design. Working with Parsons’ dean and faculty, he connected graduates to fashion industry executives and increased support of The New School’s design-led curriculum.

“I’ve always been interested in kids and education. When I retired [from Warnaco Group] in February, part of my objective was to give back wherever I could,” said Gromek.

“After more than a quarter century in retail, I have insight into the demanding fields many New School students wish to enter. I see my role helping prepare graduates to withstand an unsteady economy with the talent and mastery needed to succeed,” he added.

Gromek takes the helm of The New School board during a transformative time for the 94-year-old university. David Van Zandt, who in 2011 became the school’s eighth president, has expressed a vision for the school that focuses on its strengths in design and social sciences. The university is starting new degree programs and interdisciplinary study options designed to equip graduates for globalization, urbanization and technological innovation.

“Joe’s election as chair comes as an opportune moment, because he values the innovative characteristics of The New School,” said Van Zandt. “Joe understands the nontraditional role we have played in the past and the clarity of vision required to advance in the future.”

Gromek served as president and ceo of Warnaco from 2003 to February of this year. He took over the company when it emerged from Chapter 11 and spearheaded its international expansion, transforming it from a domestic apparel wholesaler into a retail-driven firm. Before that, he was president and ceo of Brooks Bros. Inc., and earlier held senior management posts at Saks Fifth Avenue, Limited Brands, Inc. and Ann Taylor Stores Inc.