Charles “Randy” Christian ’72, executive-in-residence at the School of Business and Ithaca College alumnus, is visiting the college this week and attended a cheese and wine reception the busines school and Center for Faculty Excelence held in his honor Oct. 29.
After a 30-year tenure at Johnson & Johnson, Christian now offers his consulting services to faculty and students at the college for three one-week stints from Sept. 9–13, Oct. 28–Nov. 1 and Dec. 2–6. He has spoken in classes about international issues, global business and the legality of human resources and has been advising business students about their potential career paths.
Staff writer Kayla Dwyer sat down with Christian to discuss his involvement with the college since his graduation, his global career in business and what the position of executive-in-residence encompasses.
Kayla Dwyer: Can you explain the role of an executive-in-residence?
Charles Christian: It’s a program that [School of Business] Dean Zuckerman had started — I’m not the first. What it intends is to bring executives on campus from various different stages in their careers — in my case, I’m retired — in different fields and disciplines — in my case, mostly human resources with a large company, J&J — to provide to the school in the sense of the faculty, staff and students the opportunity to talk and discuss those areas of interest to them.
KD: How did your tenure at Johnson & Johnson qualify you for the position at the college?
CC: After I graduated from Ithaca, I went to the University of Delaware for my master’s degree in student counseling, and I ended up working at the University of Delaware for seven years in student affairs and general administration, and then I was with J&J for 30 years. And I think partly it’s somewhat unusual to have someone who’s got experience in both higher education and industry. Johnson & Johnson is a premium company, a high-powered name. It’s one that people know, and it’s got a good reputation for ethical decision making. Human resources is a whole discipline within business, and I offer that background.
KD: Since you retired, what have you been doing outside of the college?
CC: My wife and I like to travel. Otherwise, I still do consulting work for J&J — not directly, but through a law firm — on matters related to potential or actual employment litigation. In the meantime, I do have an Ithaca College email address, I can and I do get notes from some of the students I’ve seen if they want to see me or have a question. I’m in touch with some of the faculty members about different things they want me to talk about or to have an exchange of ideas.
KD: How would you characterize your relationship with the faculty and students at the college?
CC: The fundamental intent of this executive-in-residence scenario was to be a resource, and that is how I would characterize it. I’m not trying to force myself on anybody. What it amounts to is that the faculty are made aware of the fact that I’m physically here, and they will direct students here, will create opportunities or look for places in their curriculum offerings where my coming in and talking about some subjects would make sense.
KD: What would you say is special about the college?
CC: It’s an institution that cares about the students, and I say that because I’m not sure that’s always the case in many places. I think it’s a school that is pretty unique in terms of its size for the diversity of its offerings and the diversity that it creates in terms of the student body. It’s not that you have just music students — you have extraordinary music students. It’s not that you just have phys ed students — you have extraordinary athletes. You’ve got some amazingly deeply talented, deeply interested and interesting people … those people make us all richer as people when we go out into the real world.