Graduate School of Engineering & Management

Dr. Donald Lehman

Dr. Donald R. Lehman
M.S. Engineering Space Physics, 1964
Distinguished Graduate

In 1958, Donald Lehman, a recent graduate of York High School in York, PA, was always a math guy.  Aside from the swim team, his big activity was the math club.  Lehman is now retired as one of the top administrators at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in physics, Lehman entered the Air Force, which eventually led him to study at AFIT.  While at AFIT, Dr. Lehman enjoyed the freedom of study and the opportunity to take advanced tutorial classes where he could continue to expand his academic horizons in the study of physics. After his outstanding performance at AFIT, he was chosen to use his knowledge of physics in Washington, D.C. for the Air Force Office of Special Research. There, he vigorously worked to obtain grants and contracts for the Air Force for its nuclear and high-energy physics research, while still continuing to pursue his own understanding of the subject.  Heeding his commander’s advice and his passion for physics, Dr. Lehman enrolled part-time at George Washington University to earn his Ph.D. in physics in 1970. As luck would have it the University had an opening for Dr. Lehman as a teaching assistant; he decided to leave the Air Force and to seize the opportunity that awaited him at GWU.

Lehman began as an assistant professor of physics in 1972.  Even early on, his colleagues and superiors recognized his ability to lead others and urged him to take on some major roles at the university. As a result, he served as chief academic officer, dean of the university, and eventually as the chairman of the physics department.  Dr. Lehman retired from GWU in 2010 after 38 and ½ years of continuous service.  He left behind quite a legacy as administrator. The university's board of trustees approved a $275 million Science and Engineering Complex for which he'd advocated about 20 years.  He was honored that the auditorium in the new complex was named the Dr. Donald R. Lehman Auditorium.  He is currently George Gamow Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics & Executive Vice President Emeritus for Academic Affairs at GWU.  He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Though he spent many years at GWU, Dr. Lehman will never forget his time at AFIT and his time in the Air Force. The academic and leadership foundations that he developed during his time of service were key ingredients to his successful and impressive career at GWU. 

Dr. Donald Lehman currently lives with his wife, Elyse, in Williamsburg, VA, where he enjoys sailing and the Northern Virginia countryside.

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