9/15/2011 10:00:00 AM ACTIVE SENIOR Half a dozen jobs are
about right for Siena prof
Two of Dr. Lonnstrom's books delve into the history of golf in the Capital Region; a third combined his love of flying with his research skills to explain John F. Kennedy Jr.'s fateful plane crash in 1999.
Dr. Lonnstrom had flown himself that day and attests to the heavy mist blanketing the skies: "It was just like flying in soup." But his four-seater Cessna Skyhawk featured instruments to let him fly through clouds. Mr. Kennedy lacked the training and skills to use such instruments - one of 32 mistakes Dr. Lonnstrom cites in his book.
Dr. Lonnstrom's fourth book will explore the highest- and lowest-rated consecutive U.S. presidents.
At 74, Doug Lonnstrom has taken some work responsibilities off his plate in recent years - but he has no plans to retire.
A founding director of the Siena Research Institute at Siena College in Loudonville, Dr. Lonnstrom still keeps tabs on six distinct jobs: teaching quantitative business analysis at Siena, managing the research group's monthly consumer confidence index poll, writing books, penning articles on politics and flying, hosting a television show about golf and managing family trusts.
He sometimes includes piloting and boating on the list, as well, and he seems to treat golf as another career.
"One of the great days you can have is to fly your plane to a golf course," Dr. Lonnstrom remarked.
He recently sold his first plane because he lacked the time required to maintain the instrument rating required for pilots; however, he's hoping to eventually buy another.
Dr. Lonnstrom seems to thrive on the variety of his work and enjoys relaxing with his wife, Cristine, and his dog, Driver.
"I feel good," he declared. "Every day, it's different. I work a lot of hours, but there's great control of [my] schedule. I feel like I'm doing something good for society."
Dr. Lonnstrom's top priority remains teaching. He says his charges at Siena are "the best and the brightest in the country."
Dr. Lonnstrom's 60-hour work week begins in his Siena office at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays. He refrains from lunch breaks in favor of a banana at his desk and stays until 4 or 5 p.m.
Some days are filled with research and polling work; others, three-hour lectures. Each time the institute's monthly consumer poll is released, he's swamped with 30 or 40 media interviews.
Once home in Guilderland, Dr. Lonnstrom grades papers, works on his books and prepares his half-hour television show, "Tee Time," which airs on Time Warner Cable channel 3 during summers.
He films a dozen episodes a year at area golf courses, interviewing famous golfers and sharing golf history. In three years, Tee Time has amassed a viewership of 1.5 million and expanded into the Syracuse market.
"He's not a workaholic, but he just has such enthusiasm," said Cristine Lonnstrom, his wife of 29 years and a retired teacher.
Mrs. Lonnstrom thinks her husband's energy was instilled in him by hard-working parents. Dr. Lonnstrom recalled his father's dedication as a state engineer.
Raised a Protestant in New Salem, N.Y., Dr. Lonnstrom remembers the day World War II ended; before that happy day, he'd lived through years of air raids and blackouts, food rationing and victory gardens.
In 1958, Dr. Lonnstrom graduated from Drew University in Madison, N.J., with a degree in math and economics. He worked for an economic consulting firm in Albany before earning his master's degree in business administration from Siena.
Then he taught night classes at Siena, did a stint in Houston and returned to Albany to spend 10 years managing a corporation that bought and flipped run-down businesses.
In 1979, he started at the math department of Siena's business school full-time. Then he began researching presidential ratings.
"I love statistics and I love history," explained the teacher, who attracted national attention with a mathematically-based questionnaire of political science and history professors in 1981.
Today, the Siena Research Institute uses hundreds of volunteer researchers to take the pulse of the public on politics, social topics and more. Many books cite its findings on presidents and first ladies; representatives of politicos often call the institute for information.
Results from Siena's monthly consumer confidence poll of New Yorkers are also used by government and business leaders and the New York State Department of Labor.
Dr. Lonnstrom, who became the first Protestant dean to serve at Siena when he served as dean of its School of Business from 1985 to 1992, said he enjoys the college's Catholic environment.
"The priests here are just absolutely spectacular," he said.
Mrs. Lonnstrom, a Catholic, called her husband a spiritual man who "does so much good for other people," from mentoring students to helping with scholarships.
"He puts 100 percent into everything he does," she said. "It seems like he wants to go on forever."