Former dean of A&H dies at 73

Howard Thomas Major, 73, a former dean for the School of Arts and Humanities at Laramie County Community College, died Nov. 7, 2018. He was 73.


He was a resident of Loveland, Colorado, at the time of his death. He was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on April 28, 1945.


Major began working at LCCC in the summer of 2006  and stayed until the spring of 2010.


Rosalind Schliske, instructor emeritus and a former Wingspan adviser, said that Major did everything in his power to defend student media, which later led to the creation of the Howard Major First Amendment Guardian Award when he retired in 2010, which is given to those who were known to defend the student press.


“Back then we had an entirely different administration that was very oppressive,” Schliske said. “Wingspan was running into one issue after another where they wanted to restrict the students’ rights and Major was there to defend the student press. He knew what we did and he knew what was important.”


Besides defending student media, Schliske said he supported any and all creative ideas.


“When someone came up with a creative idea he would always support it,” Schliske said. “He loved people who were creative.”


Leif Swanson, an LCCC English instructor, says that Major was kind, compassionate, and cared about people. Swanson also said that Major created an environment of academic freedom for faculty.


“He was an outstanding dean because he cared deeply about creating an atmosphere where teaching and learning could flourish,” Swanson said. “Before becoming a dean, Major spent a lot of time in the classroom as a teacher, so he knew the value of supporting faculty. He shared many useful ideas about teaching with his faculty; however, he allowed faculty to choose the best path for their students rather than mandating that they use his approach.”


Swanson said he appreciated all that Major had done for him and looks up to him as an inspiration.


“Major was a real mentor for me and others he worked with over the years,” Swanson said. “I thought the world of him and I miss him dearly.”


Schliske said that a good way to commemorate him would be to embrace the new creative economy development, through the energy generated by the construction on the new Fine Arts building, and beyond.


“The field of education and the world in general need more people like Major,” Swanson said.


Major graduated from Loy Norrix Public High School in Kalamazoo in 1964.  He later attended Western Michigan University, eventually receiving his doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership.


His teaching career began in the small farming community of Ida, Michigan. He taught high school government classes for many years and eventually began teaching at community colleges, including a long stint at Jackson Community College.


He co-created a successful two-way-television business, called “Distance Learning Dynamics,” which facilitated learning between small colleges and connected rural students with teachers in central locations.


Major served as the library director, research coordinator and research methods faculty member for PIHMA Acupuncture College in Phoenix. While he retired from full-time employment at PIHMA, he remained as a research faculty member until this past summer.  


Major is survived by his wife, Debbie; his children and stepchildren, Markos Thomas Major, Chelsey Joy Comins, Jo Ann Keller, Dusty Keller and Tory Keller.


He was previously married to Joy Anderton.


A celebration of life ceremony will be held in Loveland, Colorado, at Howard and Debbie’s home in the spring of 2019.


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