Retired Kelley School professor and wife donate $1.25M for Conrad Prebys Career Services Center

C. Randall Powell led business placement at Kelley School for more than 30 years

  • Jan. 31, 2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For more than 30 years, C. Randall "Randy" Powell led the Indiana University Kelley School of Business career services office, helping thousands of undergraduate and graduate students begin their professional careers.

Today, Powell and his wife, Kathy, are ensuring that IU and Kelley School students continue to benefit from excellent career services. Their gift of $1.25 million supports the new Conrad Prebys Career Services Center. Its state-of-the-art welcome center will be named for them.

This gift counts toward the $2.5 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.

Once completed this fall, the $14 million Prebys Career Services Center will meet important career development and job placement needs for an increasing number of Kelley students and others at IU Bloomington who aren't studying business.

"One of the hardest things in life is for a well-educated but inexperienced student to get their first job out of college," Randy Powell said. "I've had over 50,000 students in my career classes over the years, and it's been rewarding to go to so many places, in the U.S. and around the world, and have alums come up to me and say, 'You probably don't remember me, but you made a huge impact on my life.' I've had many personal successes in my career, but it's hard to top that ego ride.

"The career center became part of our family lifestyle," Powell added. "The students, alumni and many impactful relationships that we cultivated became so important to our family over the years. These relationships remain beneficial to our family even to this day. Kathy and our four children were so supportive of my time-consuming activities and really became an important part of my IU career. All of us loved helping to build the Kelley School's reputation with many of America's top companies and senior executives. Our adult children still remember all of those evenings when we entertained recruiters at receptions in our home.

"These new facilities are crucial to continuing this great legacy that our career services team helped develop over many years. Our accomplishments could not have been developed without the cooperation of many career service colleagues who contributed to this continuing success story within the Kelley School of Business."

Kelley School Dean Idalene “Idie” Kesner said the Powells' gift is a testament to the generous nature Powell demonstrated during his time directing career services.

“He was very responsive to the needs of the students and the recruiters,” said Kesner, who is also the Frank P. Popoff Chair in Strategic Management. “That’s just one reason why Kelley's career services are world-class. He was very connected and never hesitated to pick up the phone to help students secure jobs.”

Over the past 10 years, the number of IU Bloomington students served by the Kelley Undergraduate Career Services office has almost doubled. With the expansion of Hodge Hall and an increase in the number of students admitted to Kelley, new resources were needed to meet the demand.

The new facility will nearly double the number of facilities where recruiters will be able to meet privately with students. It includes more than 70 interview rooms as well as nearly 30 offices for staff. The current design for the first floor will allow for flexible use, including a new multipurpose area where visiting companies can set up displays and make presentations.

The career center was among several needs addressed when Prebys, the late president of Progress Construction and Management in San Diego, committed $20 million to IU and the Kelley School in the fall of 2015. Fundraising for the Prebys Center continues, and the goal is for it to be fully funded through private gifts, as were the William J. Godfrey Graduate and Executive Education Center and Hodge Hall Undergraduate Center.

'Paying back' to the school he served for four decades

Over a career spanning 40 years at IU, Powell has been an entrepreneur and a technologist as well as an author, educator, consultant and fundraiser. After earning an associate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kentucky, he came to IU and completed a Bachelor of Science in business production management in 1964 and an MBA in personnel and organization behavior two years later. He also earned a doctorate in business from The Ohio State University in 1973.

Powell was initially employed at IU as a computer programmer in 1963, and he was appointed to the business school's faculty in 1966. Among Powell's mentors were George Pinnell, the school's dean in 1966, and Doug Snider, a senior professor and early pioneer in career services. After Snider's untimely death, Powell succeeded him as director of the Business Placement Office in 1975.

In 1983, Powell became assistant dean for company relations and director of business placement, a position he held until 2003. Afterward, he stepped away from administrative responsibilities and served as a clinical professor of business administration as he taught the career development courses until his retirement in 2005. His protégés include many professionals who later help develop career services offices at many domestic and international universities. His consulting efforts continue to benefit many U.S. and European universities.

Powell also received an honorary doctorate in 1996 from the Helsinki School of Economics, where he taught international human resources during summers for about 15 years. He assisted in bringing a cadre of IU students to Finland over the years. He helped several worldwide universities create career centers including universities in Finland, Hungary, Spain, Macedonia, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. They included South East European University in Macedonia, a startup university that IU helped to establish after the war in Kosovo. Most of these career services offices continue growing, even today. 

His textbook, "Career Planning Today (5th edition)," continues to be used in career education programs at many universities.

Powell also was an early leader of the "Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management," an organization co-founded by Kelley that is celebrating its 50th anniversary of helping thousands of professionals from underrepresented populations pursue career success in upper management. He helped recruit hundreds of minorities who enrolled in the MBA program and assisted in raising millions of dollars to support the program.

Away from campus, the Powells enjoyed a successful career in real estate, which Kathy managed, developing residential communities for college students. Upon retirement, they sold their student communities and started a new commercial real estate portfolio. The portfolio includes many medical buildings leased to Indiana hospitals, including several leased to IU Health.

"For us, this gift, from Kathy and me, is our way of paying back to the Kelley School of Business for all the great things that it has allowed us to accomplish," Powell said. "There couldn't have been many other places or careers where we could have accomplished so many different goals. IU allowed us to have an entrepreneurial spirit, supporting my development as a faculty member, manager, author and real estate developer -- even integrating our personal family lives so uniquely into our respective careers. 

"So many of our work activities and professional endeavors involved many colleagues and alumni, including our children's development," he added. "Former deans, such as Jack Wentworth, greatly influenced our ability to grow and develop our entrepreneurial tendencies. Where else could a career-oriented couple prosper in a community and career field that supports the use of our many talents and interests?

"IU afforded us the ability to flourish in a very unique collegial atmosphere, which we think is a very special hallmark of the Kelley School of Business. After retirement, it was so encouraging to watch deans Dan Smith and Idie Kesner continue to drive the commitment to excellence within career services. Our recruiting community, including alumni, have been so supportive of this continuing development."

For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign is taking place on all IU-administered campuses including IU Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast. The campaign will conclude in December 2019 to coincide with IU’s bicentennial year celebration in 2020. To learn more about the campaign, its impact and how to participate, visit

Founded in 1936, the Indiana University Foundation maximizes private support for Indiana University by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses and units across the university. Today, the IU Foundation oversees one of the largest public university endowments in the country, with a market value in excess of $1.9 billion. In fiscal year 2016, IU received $360.9 million in support from the private sector. IU is consistently ranked among the top four of Big Ten universities in annual voluntary support.

Related Links

Kathy and C. Randall Powell

Kathy and C. Randall Powell

Print-Quality Photo

An artist's rendering of the Conrad Prebys Career Services Center.

An artist's rendering of the Conrad Prebys Career Services Center.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
  • Office 812-855-0846
  • Cell 812-345-1500
  • IU Inc.

Matt Kavgian

  • IU Foundation
  • Office 812-856-4152