Lehr overcomes bad grades, seizes success


By Kelly Galvin

To think that a Baylor professor that has been teaching for 20 years failed out of college on his first try is remarkable.

Dr. Larry Lehr, senior lecturer of environmental science, provides Baylor students with the knowledge and information needed so they do not have the same fate as him.

Lehr has held a variety of different jobs throughout his life, including farming and working with killer whales, but finds himself teaching after all these years.

“My wife was an elementary teacher and I was in ranching, and she was having more fun than I was,” Lehr said.

Deciding to give college another try, Lehr not only received his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, he received a master’s from Texas A&M University.

Lehr finds himself with many fond memories of being a professor at Baylor, including every graduation.

“I remember when the institute of environmental studies became a department in the late 1970s,” Lehr said.

Improving the environmental studies department is important to Lehr and he recalls a special memory of when a donor gave a significant gift to the department to help it grow.

Teaching has brought advantages and difficulties to Lehr and he constantly strives to improve.

“It is important of course to keep up with the technical issues in the teaching field, but it is often difficult to figure out new learning strategies,” Lehr said. “Students learn in different ways. Technology has changed not only the way individuals learn but has also impacted the way information is internalized to be meaningful.”

Lehr tries to provide his students with as many tools as possible for them to succeed in his class.

“One of the most difficult things is to instill the concepts of time management, work ethic and team problem solving in a way that students can integrate it into their lifestyles,” Lehr said.

El Paso junior Brianne Wells is a student in Lehr’s environmental issues class.

“Professor Lehr is an incredibly engaging professor. He is outwardly passionate and excited about what he teaches and really encourages his students to be, too,” Wells said.

Wells enjoys Lehr as a professor and acknowledges that his teaching style is different and very effective.

“I feel like his insight and personal experiences allow him to conduct class in a slightly more casual manner. It makes the class less stressful and more inviting to be interested and involved in the lessons,” Wells said.

Lehr’s real world experiences play a large role in the way he gets his students to understand difficult material.

Lehr is well respected by his fellow colleagues and works hard with the department to keep environmental science important to current and future students.

Dr. Susan Bratton, chair of the environmental science department, said Lehr contributes immensely to the institution.

“Students, including non environmental studies majors from previous years, remember Dr. Lehr and encourage their friends to sample the ‘Lehr experience’ for themselves,” Bratton said.

Bratton also described Lehr’s use of personal experiences in his lectures, calling him “a great story teller — from the entertaining to the practical.”