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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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A creative costume made by an SDSU graduate student. A creative costume made by an SDSU graduate student.

A Fitting Memorial

Kenn Ulrich's gift honors his late wife, Lee Rae.
By SDSU News Team

Kenn Ulrich’s career at San Diego State University began in 1996 as an adjunct professor in the School of Communication within the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.

During 14 years at SDSU, his proudest moment was being chosen by the Lambda Pi Eta (the communications honor society) chapter as Lecturer of the Year for 2003-2004.

Kenn retired early in 2009 to care for his late wife, Lee Rae, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. Kenn and Lee Rae met in San Diego while working for Great American Bank, traveled the world together, and enjoyed 27 years of marriage before she passed away at the age of 67.

During 2002, Lee Rae worked part-time in the theatre department's costume lab. She enjoyed being on campus to help students sharpen their sewing and design skills. But this was a time period when the CSU budget was under severe pressure due to state budget woes, and Lee Rae’s position was eliminated. Her love of theatre and passion for costume design did not fade, however. 

Honoring his wife’s passion, Kenn decided to fund a graduate assistantship in the costume shop after Lee Rae’s death in 2012. By endowing this position, Kenn has ensured that, regardless of fluctuations in state support for SDSU, the costume shop will continue to be staffed and students inspired.

Today, Kenn is married to Joyce Ulrich and together they remain philanthropic, not only by supporting SDSU and Alzheimer’s research, but also by contributing to other causes 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 feet above sea level on Palomar Mountain, looking for early signs of smoke from urban areas throughout San Diego County and eastward into the Cuyamaca Mountains.