Mark McColloch, labor historian and Community College of Baltimore County vice president, dies

Mark McColloch, a labor historian and activist who had been vice president of instruction at the Community College of Baltimore County for more than a decade, died of cancer Oct. 26 at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

The Towson resident was 70.

“Mark had been our academic officer for 12 years and having been one myself, I know how good he was at it,” said Sandra L. Kurtinitis, president of the college. “He was a man who had infinite patience with the process and he brought so much respect, tact and diplomacy to issues.”

When she hired Dr. McColloch for the job, she explained, she was motivated by his “experience, willingness to wade into the water, get into issues, and doing it with integrity, honesty and humility. Being an academic officer is a very high calling, and he was very modest about it. And I trusted his judgment.”

The two didn’t always see eye to eye, she said.

“I loved the guy and we were sparring partners at times, but we shared a vision of what CCBC could become,” Dr. Kurtinitis said.

“He was a strong representative for our community and state, and I depend on his academic menu and excellence,” she said. “I was sorry to lose him but will always be grateful for his work.”

Michael Netzer, who is CCBC’s dean of continuing education and learning, said he left the world of business and returned to the college because of Dr. McColloch.

“He was just a great man who made an incredible impact on people and students,” the Catonsville resident said. “He was humble, a humanitarian, very intelligent, and spoke with an authentic voice from the heart. The world is a better place because of Mark.”

Born in Akron, Ohio, Mark McColloch was the son of Robert McColloch, a draftsman, and his wife, Lemoyne McColloch, a homemaker. He was raised in Pittsburgh and was a 1965 graduate of Gateway Senior High School in Monroeville, Pa.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in history in 1969 from Wooster (Ohio) College, Dr. McColloch spent a year working on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming through the Volunteers of Service to America.

He then returned to Pennsylvania State University where he completed a master’s degree in 1971 in history, and his Ph.D. in history four years later from the University of Pittsburgh.

At Pitt, he studied with the noted labor historian Dr. David Montgomery, who had a profound influence on his life.

Dr. Montgomery, who was a union organizer, political and civil rights activist, and chair of the history department at Pitt, was the author of the seminal “Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925.”

After graduating from Pitt, Dr. McColloch began his teaching career at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. He then returned to Pitt, where he became a full-time history professor and director of the labor and union collection in the Archives of Industrial Society.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. McColloch made significant contributions to his field,” wrote Rachele Lawton, chairman of the reading and language department at CCBC, his wife of a year and partner for a decade, in a biographical profile of her husband.

“He obtained and archived a number of important union and labor history collections, records and papers from the Pittsburgh region,” she wrote. “He published numerous scholarly articles and four books on labor history, including ‘Cold War in the Working Class’ with Ronald L. Filipelli, and ‘White Collar Workers in Transition.’ ”

At the time of his death, Dr. McColloch was finishing a monograph on Westinghouse Electric Corp. workers, which will be published posthumously.

Dr. McColloch went on to teach at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, where he was presented the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award for the entire university.

Later in his career, he was named department chair and dean, and in 2000, was named vice president of academic affairs at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, a position he held for three years when he joined Queensborough Community College in Bayside, N.Y., in the same position.

Dr.. McColloch was vice president of instruction at CCBC from 2006 until his retirement last month.

As vice president of instruction, he was responsible for providing leadership for all seven academic departments and programs that served tens of thousands of students in the region.

“Mark was the consummate consensus builder who could always find the middle ground and it was always about the students,” Mr. Netzer said. “His various initiatives helped students develop and succeed and devote themselves to lifelong learning.”

He also earned national acclaim in areas such as acceleration in developmental education, culturally responsive teaching, global education and guided pathways.

“What he did through his wisdom shaped the tapestry of the college,” Mr. Netzer said. “Mark understood where the students were coming from. He was truly a wonderful man.”

In recognition of his work at CCBC, the college established the Mark McColloch Prize for Academic and Program Excellence to support student success initiatives at the college.

“The college held a celebration Oct. 22 to mark his upcoming retirement, and he sadly passed away on Oct. 26,” his wife said.

A lifelong activist, Dr. McColloch participated in the civil rights and and antiwar movements, and joined the Socialist Workers Party to support their solidarity actions in Central America.

In 2011-2012, he supported Occupy Wall Street, and during the past several years, worked to establish a Green Party chapter in Baltimore County. He also had been secretary and co-chair of the Maryland Green Party.

Dr. McColloch enjoyed studying languages, traveling and hiking. He liked to read nonfiction and fiction, and was a supporter of the arts. He also had reviewed books, films, plays and museum exhibitions on a weekly basis.

His series of acrylic paintings that drew inspiration from the poem “The Masque of Anarchy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley will be exhibited from mid-December at the MAXgallery on Madeira Street, near Patterson Park.

A celebration of Dr. McColloch’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the SNF Parkway Theatre, 5 W. North Ave.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, William McColloch of Keene, N.H., and David McColloch of Norristown, Pa.; two sisters, Karen Dillon of Bellevue, Ky., and Joyce Tillman of Fountain Hills, Ariz.; and several nieces and nephews. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story misstated an element of Mr. McColloch's academic career. It has been corrected here.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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