Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where Are They Now?

A Profile of Retired Faculty Member Charlie Branch

Article by Lizzy Scully

Photos by Kenn Bisio

Just a year before he turned 50, Charles “Charlie” Branch found his way to Metro State College of Denver and became the Dean of the School of Education. Three decades later, this dapper 80-year-old still dresses in a suit and tie, combs his now white gray hair neatly back, and drives to work. Of course, he retired two years ago, and so now only works a couple days per week. But his passion for his job remains the same.

“At age 80 I feel very, very good,” Branch says. “I feel like there are a lot of things yet to be done.” He currently teaches applied behavior analysis, a “scientific psychological way of solving human problems. I love teaching the course! I jumped at the chance to get back after being out for six months. I have a problem with being cooped up. I love working with people.”

According to three-decade Metro veteran, Debora Martin, the office manager for the Department of Human Services, students love working with him, too. “What I hear from students is that he is wonderful to work with, and they enjoy his classes. He is a really nice, genuine guy.”

Branch came to Metro State after getting his PhD from the University of Florida.
After stints at various colleges, including Ball State University, he landed in Denver. “I was excited about Metro because it was a new institution and an institution that had the potential and diversity that I valued highly,” he explains. “We were making history, and we still are.”

One of the main drawing cards was the fact that he had the opportunity to work with thousands of Denver-area K-12 teachers who needed to renew their teaching certificates. “I thought that was a gold mine out there,” he adds. “Nobody was furnishing their needs.”

Branch would plan programs based on the expressed needs of the teachers. “They would tell me their needs, and we could write curriculum and give it to them three days later,” he says. “It would normally take three to four years to get a curriculum change, whereas out here we could change it momentarily. We filled a need within a community. That has kept me around for a long time.”

Things aren’t like that these days, he admits, but he still feels the institution is flexible, and that President Stephen Jordan is carrying Metro State “onward and upward.” Plus, he says, “The quality and commitment of the faculty here is unbelievable compared to other institutions.” Wanting to add to the roster of excellent professors, Branch decided to transition into full time teaching himself.

“I saw that as an opportunity to make an even bigger difference with students,” he says. “It’s exciting to see the ‘aha’ moments students have and their growth.” The diversity on campus also pleases him.

“It’s not just ethnicity,” he says. “I’m talking about academic background diversity, age diversity. I like working in an environment with adult learners and young learners. They learn more from each other than they do from me.”
And that is how Branch likes it. He tries to facilitate a classroom environment that encourages people to search for the truth and to work with each other to do that. “Nobody does anything by him or herself that has any lasting meaning,” he explains.

Branch has always applied this attitude in his dealings with staff members as well, says Martin. As dean, he always encouraged people to come to his office to talk to him about anything, anytime, she says. “When I think of Charlie, I think of a person who is dedicated and always here. He is not afraid to take on conflict and deal with issues that come up, and he does that in a positive manner. He brought a lot of openness to Metro State.”

Plus, he inspired her and others with his work ethic. “He’s the type of person who would be in here at 6a.m. and get a couple hours of work done before we even got here. And, he really worked hard to give students great customer service.”
Though he only teaches one class at Metro now, Branch hopes to work in some capacity for the institution as long as he can.

“I still feel a part of Metro,” he says, “and I will until my last breath.”

This is the first in a series of monthly articles about retired faculty.

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  1. I still rember Dr. Branch from 2000-he helped me get a scholarship and believed in me-what an awesome teacher he was and had lasting impact on my life.

    Hazel Shieds, B.S., CACIII Class of 2002

  2. I worked with Dr. Branch when he was dean of the School of Eduction. A first-class guy... always interested; always inspiring. Way to go, Charlie!