After graduating from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, with a double major in philosophy and religion, Dr. Ehly left the Midwest to study at Yale University Divinity School. After his first year in seminary and with some cuts and bruises and a bit of jail time in the Civil Rights movement in North Florida, he left the United States for study abroad. He learned German and settled into philosophical and theological studies in West Berlin, Germany, a focal point of the Cold War. There, he took the opportunity to travel often to East Berlin and the Soviet dominated Eastern European countries, acquiring a deep and abiding interest in the extent to which both East and West were trapped in their respective political ideologies. The year abroad turned into two, and after a six-month trip across North Africa and through the Middle East, he returned to Yale, completed his seminary training and was ordained in his home congregation of The Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) in the Kansas City suburbs in 1967.
Not yet feeling he had arrived in a career of his liking, he volunteered for foreign exchange through the Fraternal Worker organization of his denomination and soon found himself back in Berlin, doing volunteer work with Action Reconciliation (Aktion Suehnezeichen) and serving as a pastor in a parish of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Berlin. He returned to the U.S. after three years of service in Berlin, enrolled at Yale for advanced theological studies, and received the S.T.M. (Master of Sacred Theology) in 1971. Dr. Ehly worked for two years as program director and then interim director of the Ecumenical Continuing Education Center at Yale. While there he began to realize that adult higher education was his true calling and that he must pursue his own answers to the philosophical and theological issues raised by the Holocaust of European Jews, having been confronted by the camps and other human and material vestiges of that egregious crime during his years in Germany.
Thus, he left New England to study with Richard L. Rubenstein at Florida State University in Tallahassee, pursuing a Ph.D. in Religion and Humanities with a focus on the Holocaust and its philosophical and theological implications. In 1975, he accepted an appointment as adult admissions director at Goddard College, then taught at Goddard, served as graduate program dean and finally interim president at Goddard. In 1981, he served in a series of administrative positions at Norwich University until 1991 when he returned to teaching full time and more study of the Holocaust. He taught in the Adult Degree Program through the acquisition of the program by Union Institute & University focusing especially on world religions, spirituality, and all ideological and spiritual structures of meaning.