Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where are they now? Faculty profile: Howie Flomberg

When Howie Flomberg (’74, CMS) finally got out of Vietnam in the late ‘60s, he attended Queens College, NY. Despite its reputation as a liberal school, Flomberg was immediately identified as a Vietnam vet and subsequently vilified by both faculty and students. Disheartened, he and his wife bailed from the East Coast and drove their ’69 Oldsmobile to Denver to start over.

“My first day I was in the old Fox building, taking the elevator to the second floor, and the door opened and a guy rode past me on a unicycle,” he says. “Nobody took a second look.” What Flomberg discovered was that he blended into the crowd as well. Being a veteran didn’t matter.

“And that’s exactly what I wanted,” he says. “I wanted to fit in.” Flomberg found other vets and “worked hard, studied hard, and drank hard at the White Mule,” he adds with a smile.

Post graduation he moved briefly to Los Angeles, but hated it, and so moved back to Colorado to continue as a computer programmer. In 1978, he started as an adjunct faculty member at Metro State and “fell in love with being in front of a classroom,” he says. “I just really enjoyed the give and take, and the challenges. Getting challenged directly by the students is a ball.”

Flomberg honed his teaching skills by developing an interactive teaching style. “I encouraged students to disagree with me. As long as we treated each other with respect, I could learn from them and they from me. College should be about exchanging opinions and everybody growing.” As well, he adds, classes should be used for service learning. Flomberg was one of the first professors to use his classes this way.

Using his contacts in the business community, Flomberg would divide students into teams of four or five people and have them deal with real issues faced by these businesses. “It gave students real work with real organizations, and it got them out of the classroom,” he says. The programs were very successful, he adds.

According to Ken Keller, former Socio-Anthropology chair and dean for Metro State, “Howie was an effective teacher. I knew from comments that students made to me that they liked his teaching and his willingness to be available for advising.”

However, all good things must come to an end. Flomberg just recently retired from teaching because of health issues. However, he continues to pursue intellectual endeavors. He is now writing five 100-page books about various things, including the decision theory and the history of the American dream.

“When they are all written, I’ll have a 500-page book,” he explains. “At that point I can start looking for a traditional publisher.” Flomberg’s current published works include a guide on software that is used in statistics, which was published by Metro State. He also wrote the curriculum and taught a “Management 4000” class on management decision theory that was subsequently picked up by the California State College system.

“I really enjoy writing,” Flomberg says. “I get into that zone.”
Flomberg also stays involved with Metro State and is currently working with a 45th Anniversary committee that is gathering and publishing historical documents and gathering information on former faculty and staff members. “It’s fun,” he says. “My philosophy now is if it’s not fun, I don’t do it.”

“My defense against Alzheimer’s, is using my mind,” he says with a laugh. “Life is an adventure. I’ve done everything from [wandering] the streets of Brooklyn a youth with no supervision to crawling through interesting places in Southeast Asia. I’ve been in and out and up and down. My opinion is, ‘go for it.’ Don’t let anything hold you back if it’s something you want to do. That’s what I tell my students.” And that’s how he continues to live his life.

“Howie is full of energy,” Keller adds. “And he has always been very committed to students.”

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