Alumni News

April 20, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Alumni News | Chris Albers Denhart: ‘It. Don’t Miss It. College. Life. Experiences.’

Chris Albers Denhart

Chris Albers Denhart (Photo with permission from Hira Mashkoor @thehirandthenow)

Ohio University left its mark on Chris Albers Denhart ’14, but the Economics Department faculty might say he left his mark here, too.

Professors got his wheels turning by using economics as a way to look at what was happening in the world around him. But they might not have anticipated that Albers Denhart would become perpetual motion.

“I’m sitting in Dr. Harold Winter’s classroom writing my first bluebook essay. After my first class with him he instituted a one-page response limit because I would nearly fill a bluebook with ramblings and qualifiers and economic analysis on the simplest of questions, like, ‘Should seatbelts be required?’ After the new rule, I started fitting two lines of text per row just to stick it to him.”

Albers Denhart approached life in Athens with the same all-out advice he has for new students: “It. Don’t miss it. College. Life. Experiences. This time is yours. You get to figure out who you are. You get to be cool. Not because you like sports or play in a rock band, but because you get to do exactly what makes you feel like you. You will find a group of people around you that celebrate who you are. So do something unexpected, you may surprise yourself!”

Q: Tell us about the new job—and what excites you the most about it.

A: I was recently promoted to Lead Associate, Employee Lifecycle and Development as a member of Fannie Mae’s Chief Marketing Officer’s executive office team. My new role is responsible for understanding the employee’s experience from hired to retired and fostering a meaningful culture across the division. I’m excited to leverage my economic and design research skills to quantify our team culture to mark and measure growth, assess impact, identify trade offs, and move the needle on making work better.

Chris Albers Denhart

Chris Albers Denhart

Q: What was your major, and any minors or certificates.

I majored in economics (B.S.) with a minor in mathematics at OHIO. Since graduation, I’ve earned my master’s degree in User Experience (UX) Design from MICA (The Maryland Institute College of Art), earned a certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP), and earned various certifications in design facilitation and design thinking.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

I was lucky enough to have several outstanding professors at Ohio. In no particular order:

  • Dr. Harold Winter: I took every class I could from Dr. Winter, including an independent study when I ran out of formal classes. He helped me see the world differently. Not in terms of right vs. wrong, but better or best. He helped me break out of conventional thought patterns (i.e., smoking is bad) to understand that people are responding to incentives, and everyone has a unique valuation of everything, and everyone faces tradeoffs. Therefore, evaluating public policy, micro interactions, or anything else requires an empirical assessment of the data. Absent that, we can only say that “it depends.”
  • Dr. Julia Paxton: Again, I took as many classes as I could with Dr. Paxton. Especially impactful was the economics of Altruism course where we established a volunteer/non-profit community project in Athens to introduce low-income students in Athens Middle School to various opportunities in higher education. Being an alumni of the Athens City Schools District, this was especially rewarding. Dr. Paxton’s classes had me seriously considering a career in international development — maybe someday!
  • Dr. Richard Vedder: Dr. Richard Vedder was more than a professor. In my time at Ohio University I took only two classes with Dr. Vedder, but I worked for him as a research assistant for years. He would regularly explain things in a way the current generation can understand them, like saying, “Go to the library, you know what libraries are right? They’re buildings with books and articles. Find the information!” Dr. Vedder taught me how to focus intelligence and talent into a strong work ethic and remains a very close friend and mentor to this day.

Q: Do you still keep in touch with any of your faculty?

Not as often as I’d like. However, I try to get back for Homecoming or other times throughout the year and stop by the econ department for a quick hello. I occasionally email Dr. Winter with some thoughts on his latest book and regularly seek advice and mentorship from our faculty.

Q:  What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

Literal hill: Jeff Hill for sure.

Metaphorical hill: I was dealing with some stress-induced health concerns my junior year. Putting myself through college, working multiple jobs, going to class full time, playing on the club ultimate frisbee team, and being a member of the Singing Men of Ohio and Section 8 had finally caught up with me. My body was shutting down. So, at my doctor’s mandate, I made hard decisions. I quit the ultimate frisbee team — which at the time felt like quitting on my Bobcat family. I took a (slightly) lighter course load in spring semester. I dialed back the number of hours spent in the econ lab. I changed my diet. Ultimately I got back to “good enough” where I could sit through an entire lecture without having to excuse myself.

This taught me two big lessons: 1. it is better to do a few things really well rather than a lot of things poorly and 2. prioritize health.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

There are so many! Walking on college greens. Meeting and falling in love with my wife, Lauren (HTC ’15). Traveling to Boulder Colorado to compete in the Ultimate Frisbee National Championship tournament (2012), Traveling with the Singing Men for our annual spring break national tours (2013 & 2014). Homecomings. Fests. Midnight at the SMO house (Brothers, Sing on!). My first hot nut at Tony’s. Too many moments to count.

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