Christian trained as a biologist, earning a bachelor’s in wildlife biology and a master’s and doctorate in zoology from Michigan State University. He has published in several biology journals.
He has held teaching and administrative positions at University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Montana and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He joined SUNY-New Paltz as provost and vice president for academic affairs in 2009, was named interim president in 2010 and was appointed president in 2011.
The council is one of 10 established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to develop regional economic development plans. The public-private partnerships are composed of representatives from business, academia, government and non-governmental organizations.
Christian is one of three college presidents on the 21-member Mid-Hudson council. Dennis Murray, president emeritus of Marist College, is co-chair and Cliff L. Wood, president of SUNY Rockland Community College, is a member.
The state has awarded $392.6 million for 459 economic and community development projects in the Mid-Hudson region in the past five years. The council is based at the Empire State Development regional office in New Windsor and covers Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties.