After discovering a love of economics as an undergraduate student, Dr. David Lehr followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a college professor. Now in his 22nd year teaching at Longwood University, Dr. Lehr never looked back.

“I saw how my dad, Donald, loved sharing the passion he had in psychology with his students,” he said. “I did some tutoring while in college and thought teaching was a fantastic fit for me for the same reason.

“When I finished grad school at Penn State University, I taught at Indiana University for five years prior to coming here. Longwood matched up with what I love, which is this idea of trying to problem-solve where I can try to get students to work hard on hard ideas and enjoy it.”

In addition to teaching Managerial Economics and Managing Data for Strategic Decision Making/Data Informed Decision Making in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with track in Economics program, Dr. Lehr is in his third year as MBA program director.

He is also in his fourth year as the Department of Accounting, Economics, Finance, and Information Systems chair and his first year as an associate dean for the Longwood University College of Business and Economics.

“The fundamental part of economics, when people say, ‘Why is this happening?’ or ‘What should we do?’ the answer is almost always that there’s more than one thing,” he said. “It’s hard to disentangle stories.

“Having that nuanced understanding of the way the economy works is essential — especially for MBA students who want to be able to go in and say, ‘I need…ideas that give me immediate value added.'”

Bull Market

Dr. Lehr grew up near Buffalo, New York. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the State University of New York at Fredonia, where his father taught, in 1989.

“I took an economics class in undergrad and loved that it was asking social science questions, trying to do so with the rigor of the scientific method and the physical sciences,” he said.

“I have always liked math, models and statistics. I am most interested in social science questions. There was a natural fit combined with a fantastic first teacher. That got me hooked.”

While at Indiana University, Dr. Lehr taught MBA courses, which he enjoyed because the students gained immediate value from the curricula.

“I developed my teaching style from those courses,” he said. “I want to have good communication with students, where they are telling me what’s important and what isn’t, or what might be important but isn’t being delivered in a way that’s maximizing its value.

Dr. Lehr asks his students to apply what they’re learning to their jobs and everyday lives. He tells them: “‘Take an idea that you think is important that we have been working on and show me that it’s useful in your job right now. Do that as rigorously as you can.'”

Dr. Lehr said he encourages his students to make the most of their time in the online MBA in Economics program.

“If you want to apply an idea, you must adapt it to the uniqueness of your circumstance,” he said. “A 10-month program for full-time students is going to go by quickly. The way to get the most from it is to have a high level of engagement with your faculty and peers. Ask a lot of questions. When there are opportunities to apply this directly to your career in the moment, that’s where you put in a lot of effort.

“If I am in their shoes, the MBA is a credential, which is terrific, but there are a lot of important skills to learn and networking to do.”

Supply and Demand

Dr. Lehr enjoys cooking, traveling, playing competitive tennis and learning about wine and world watches in his free time. He said that while most of the MBA students at Longwood are already in a career, earning an advanced degree can lead to new opportunities.

“We have some federal employees who are graduates,” he said. “We have some students who finished their military careers and want to move into the private sector. We had some folks who have been vice presidents of finance at universities.

“We also have grads who have sat high on not-for-profit boards, like art museums. Most of them are in the private sector, services or manufacturing, large companies or small ones.”

One element of teaching at Longwood University that Dr. Lehr enjoys most is maintaining the school’s reputation for having close connections between faculty members and students.

“How do you translate that bespoke higher education experience to an online environment? That’s the trick,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been working on the last few years. Part of that is making sure that faculty has a good understanding of best practices online.

“We make sure that our online courses have the Quality Matters seal of approval, a credential all courses in the MBA program must meet.

“Then, we make sure that faculty has the IT tools they need where they can do small groups, one-on-ones and office hours. Those things are essential to keep what makes Longwood a place where I wanted to stay for the last 21 years.”

Learn more about Longwood University’s online MBA with track in Economics program.