By Published: Jan. 16, 2020

He was always an incredibly valuable—and valued—community member, colleague says

After a year-long fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), long-time University of Colorado Boulder sociology instructor Matthew C. Brown died quietly in his sleep Nov. 3, 2019, at Balfour Stapleton assisted living facility in Denver. He was 51.

“Matt is at peace and no longer in pain,” his family and friends wrote in a statement on Facebook. “He maintained an amazing attitude of love and generosity toward others and his constant sense of humor right up to the very end.”

The Matthew C. Brown Scholarship Fund has been created in his memory. The fund “will support sociology graduate students with demonstrated commitment to making a positive social impact through teaching and who have faced unusual adversity and/or are from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in sociology.”

He was born Sept. 30, 1968. He earned a PhD in sociology from CU Boulder in 2003 and joined the faculty as an instructor in 2004. 

Matthew C. Brown

Matthew C. Brown

“Throughout this time, he was always an incredibly valuable—and valued—community member,” says Lori Hunter, professor of sociology, chair of the sociology department and director of the CU Population Center at the Institute of Behavioral Science. “He was an extraordinarily respected colleague.” 

He earned high marks from students while teaching numerous courses, including introductory-level and upper-level classes focused on human sexuality and gender, including Social Construction of Sexuality and Sex, Gender & Society. As well, he taught in a CU Boulder Residential Academic Program and for the LGBT Studies certificate program.

He won praise from students and colleagues alike for his collaborative and experiential methods, such as “sidewalk chalking” to extend important messages from class to the broader campus community, and was known for his efforts to reach marginalized students.

“He works tirelessly to advance diversity in our department and college, and also in the community as a whole,” wrote Michael Radelet and Jason Boardman, professors of sociology, in recommending Brown’s appointment as senior instructor in October.

He won praise from students and colleagues alike for his collaborative and experiential methods​"

Brown was a member of several key committees in the department. He was chair of the Diversity Committee, on which he served for 12 years. He also served as Honors Program Coordinator, representing the department at the College of Arts and Science’s Honor Council.

He also served on the CU Boulder Faculty Council LGBTQ+ Committee from 2016 to 2019, serving as co-chair in 2019. He was deeply involved in community service off campus and in the community at large, working with Denver Pride, the Boulder County AIDS Project, Gay Men’s Health summit and Boulder County Health Department’s OASIS, an HIV/AIDS prevention program for LGBT youth. 

Brown is survived by his father Bob and stepmother Pixie Brown; his mother, Rhoda Folkerth Brown; brothers Mike, Jeff and Tony Brown; sister Laurie; and many other family members.

He had a large and caring group of friends, including Tricia Waddell, Craig Roberts, Matt Savoie, Bryan Penny, Scott Kennedy, Brent Milne, Glenda Walden, Jennifer White and Joan Van Wyke. He made countless friends among faculty, staff and students in 20 years of teaching sociology at CU Boulder.

Services were held in Boulder, Denver, Ohio and Indiana.