By Katie Farkas
In this column, The Delphian has been highlighting a different administrator at Adelphi University in each issue so that students get to know them better. We focus on what their administrative position is, their background and how they came to hold their current position.
After graduating in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and taking almost 25 years away from Adelphi, Marc S. Strachan, current chair of Adelphi’s Board of Trustees, said he never thought he would ever see the inside of the Adelphi board room, much less be the board chair, “but I am happy to sit in that chair today.”
Strachan came back to campus intermittently for fraternity and social events, but what really brought him back was his twenty-fifth-year anniversary. He said it was a revealing situation. “After that, Rory [Schafer] and others reached out to me and began to re-acculturate me with the university and some of the positive changes that had been occurring.”
He had the opportunity to speak with University President Christine M. Riordan when he was recognized as a “Most Outstanding Alum” at the President's Gala in 2017. The award recognizes Adelphi’s outstanding alum as voted by the University Community, Alumni and Board of Trustees. All of these things, Strachan said, “led me to be a part of the president's advisory council. Then I was ultimately asked to join the board. As part of the board and key committees, it was clear to me that I had an opportunity to bring my different perspective to the board. After a couple of years, I was approached by my predecessor [former board chair Ronald B. Lee] and President Riordan to see if I might be interested in being a candidate. I was subsequently nominated and ratified to be chair of the board.”
When talking about his role, Strachan mentioned that one of his goals as chair is to demystify the board so that the Adelphi community can get a better sense of who the members are and what they do.
“There's this great mystery that the board are these people behind closed doors,” he said. “Like they've got these [ceremonial] robes and make all these grandiose decisions. We do make a lot of very important decisions. But there are no robes, and no smoky back rooms or secret handshakes. We are just really solid citizens who love and are concerned about the university.”
Some of the big decisions that Strachan has been involved in include the 2019 renewal of President Riordan’s contract and approving the multi-million dollar plans for the expansion and renovation of the Ruth S. Harley University Center which reopened in 2021.
Strachan continued by explaining that the board is not made up of all alumni. “Sometimes there are people who are family of alums or just love the university. They really care about making sure that Adelphi is sustained for the next 125 years.”
The board role is a volunteer one. “Absolutely no paycheck, no compensation, it’s all about passion and love,” said Strachan.
In his life outside of Adelphi, Strachan has had a 40-plus year career in the marketing and advertising industries, almost half of that in advertising agencies and the other half in brand management companies.
“Most recently, I stepped out of those arenas and I went into executive and personal coaching; developing talent and helping people grow and develop their personal selves as well as their professional selves,” Strachan said. “Three years ago I became an executive coach and a personal coach and that’s been very, very good. I also serve as the chief marketing officer of the Agile Media Group, which is a leading out-of-home, data-driven, tech-enabled Out of Home media company. So I wear those two hats very comfortably. I love marketing. I love advertising. And I got the bug when I was at Adelphi.”
Strachan said that his college experience was extremely eye-opening. “I think that the combination of the degree, the book knowledge, coupled with the interpersonal skills, the leadership development skills, the social dynamic skills, and the cultural skills had an unbelievable impact on my life in terms of how I grew as a young man.”
He said he came from an African American and Hispanic community in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which, from the sixties to eighties, “was a hodgepodge of cultures and a working-class community.”
When he came to Adelphi, “at this liberal arts college, I was meeting people from all over. I had an opportunity to travel domestically and then travel internationally and it opened up my mind. It opened up my opportunities and I found that even when I was ready to graduate and I was going on my interviews, I was way better prepared than most of my cohorts who hadn't traveled or lived a full university life. That was a huge benefit for me. It allowed me to stand out from the herd.”
That’s why today Strachan encourages college students to be curious and unafraid to fail. “We get so caught up in being perfect, but nobody's perfect. The person who’s always perfect isn’t really [perfect], they're mediocre. In order to be great, you've got to fail a few times.”
Strachan added that relationships are critically important during and after your college career. “This includes the relationships in the university, from your dean, your department head, your classmates, to people in the bursar's office. If you don’t have great relationships, you can’t get things done. We are people, we are social animals, we depend on the interdependency of other people. The more you learn to not only have relationships but to nurture them, the better.”
While he was a student at Adelphi, Strachan said that one of his favorite memories was Thursday nights. “When I was at Adelphi, the legal drinking age was 18, so we had a bar on campus. It was called The Rathskeller [in the lower level] at the University Center. On Thursday nights they used to have disco nights and that was so much fun. It created an environment that literally people from Hofstra, New York University, CW Post [now Long Island University], would come to Adelphi for. It got so big that we had to move it from The Rathskeller into the university center ballroom because it was just that popular.”
Strachan also reminisced about the campus radio station. “Ron [Ingram] on Thursday nights had the jazz spotlight hour from eight to 10. He would play some of the best jazz from some of the best jazz musicians. People would call in and they would have contests. That was just a fabulous time and many of us used to go up to the radio station just to hang out. We’d go up there and sit down and talk and we’d have a blast. That was Adelphi.”
Today he said he appreciates a lot of music, but especially jazz. “Some of my favorite artists are Gil Scott-Heron, John Coltrane, and Angela Bofill.” Strachan said his favorite opera is `Carmen.’ and that he also loves the Orquesta de la Luz, which is a Japanese jazz ensemble that plays Latin jazz. One of his favorite artists is Michael Franks.
Strachan is the father of three and a grandfather of one with another one on the way. His son lives in Florida, and his twin daughters are both finishing their last semester of graduate school. Strachan and his wife Almaz have been together for 38 years. He said they met in an elevator at an advertising agency and he laughed to say that, initially, she ignored him.
The last bit of advice Strachan had for students is: “One thing that we don’t teach enough in school today, that is critically important, is to manage your health on all levels, physical, spiritual and emotional. We don’t talk about it enough and we don’t teach people early enough how to deal with it. It catches up so quickly and [not taking care of your health] can manifest in so many different ways.” He concluded by saying “I love Adelphi. I met many of my current friends during those four years. I am a proud Panther.”