Looking Back to Move Forward

UlrichKenn Ulrich’s career at SDSU began in 1996 as an adjunct professor in the School of Communication within the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. During his 14-year career, his proudest moment was being chosen by SDSU’s Lambda Pi Eta (Communications Studies Honor Society) chapter as “Lecturer of the Year” for the 2003-2004 academic year. Kenn retired early in 2009 to stay home and care for his late wife, Lee Rae who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Sadly, Lee Rae passed away in 2012 at the age of 67. Kenn and Lee Rae met in San Diego while working for Great American Bank, traveled the world together, and enjoyed 27 years of marriage.

Lee Rae Ulrich worked part-time in the Theatre Department’s costume lab in the Spring and Fall semesters of 2002. She absolutely loved being on campus, helping students sharpen their sewing and design skills. Unfortunately, this was a time period when the CSU budget was under severe pressure to shrink, due to state budget woes, and her position was eliminated. It was a sad day for her when she found out she wouldn’t be going back to campus the following semester. Despite no longer working on campus Lee Rae’s love of theatre and passion for costume design did not fade. Following her passing in 2012, Kenn decided there was no better way to honor her than to fund a graduate assistantship in the costume shop. By endowing this position, Kenn has ensured that, regardless of fluctuations in State support, the costume shop will continue to be staffed and students, inspired.

Kenn’s motto is “Life isn’t about surviving the storm; it’s learning to dance in the rain.” This quote is at the end of every email he sends and has been since 2008, two years after Lee Rae was diagnosed. He uses it as a daily reminder that “there will always be a challenge to face; nothing will change that. So we all better learn to make the best of it.”

Today, Kenn is married to Joyce Ulrich and together they remain philanthropic not only through their support of SDSU and Alzheimer’s research, but other causes that they are passionate about. Most interesting of their volunteer efforts is the time they spend as fire spotters for the Forest Fire Lookout Association.

Two days each month Kenn and Joyce staff Boucher Hill tower, 5,400 ft. above sea level on Palomar Mountain, looking for early signs of smoke from urban areas throughout San Diego County eastward into the Cuyamaca Mountains.

The picture above was a favorite of Lee Rae’s, taken at Peohe’s restaurant in Coronado.