DR. JOHN J. ULRICH’S LEGACY LIVES ON THROUGH FELLOWSHIP
Teaching students about public service was so important to the late Dr. John J. Ulrich that he spent the last six weeks of his life making sure that a sufficient fellowship would be developed for a political science and legal studies major at East Central University.
The Dr. John J. Ulrich Fellowship Scholarship has exceeded expectations, not only in dollar figures, but in the vast array of opportunities that it provides to a deserving student.
“John had some phenomenal students come through the (political science and legal studies) program,” said his wife Lesa Ulrich.
Evidence of that phenomenal tag is the first recipient of the fellowship – Hannah Hale, of Ardmore. Hale spent nearly the entire spring semester in Washington, D.C., serving an internship under U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe while earning 15 hours of ECU credit.
“I feel so blessed to have been selected to be the first to receive this scholarship,” said Hale. “This opportunity has opened so many doors for me if I decide to come back to D.C. I honestly couldn’t be more thankful.”
Those open doors have led to a unique and gratifying learning experience for Hale.
“This fellowship sets East Central up to offer even more for prospective students, especially in the political science/legal studies field,” Hale said. “It’s hard to find a student abroad trip or any similar kind of opportunities that will fit with our major’s concentration. This allows political science/legal studies students those same kind of experiences, while being in one of the most wonderful places in the United States.”
Through this experience, Hale was able to absorb a major historic event, by attending the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.
“No matter what party you affiliate yourself with, it’s always amazing to witness history. I’m not sure how many college students can tell you they have been to a presidential inauguration, so for me this was an amazing experience,” said Hale. “Honestly, just being there was incredible and the atmosphere was so positive as everyone was waiting to witness this soon to be memory. One of my favorite parts of the event was seeing all the past Presidents come in, especially George W. Bush.”
In addition to attending the inauguration, Hale was able to attend an inauguration celebration ball, among many things she would be unable to do in Oklahoma. She also attended the Oklahoma State Society Ball the day prior to the inaugural ball.
“I also got to attend Senator Inhofe’s annual African Dinner and meet some exceptional people, including ambassadors from African nations, current and past vice presidents and current and past presidents,” Hale said.
As for her internship, she has gained an appreciation for the duties of a senator and the long hours they put in.
“I can tell you that being a senator goes far beyond just representing your state. These senators also don’t get to work a usual 8 (a.m.)-5 (p.m.) schedule either. They stay here all night on occasion and sometimes have to come in at 6 a.m. to vote,” said Hale. “They work like crazy and I really don’t know how they have any kind of personal life.
“It’s been truly a remarkable experience to see exactly where a bill starts out, where it goes and how it gets passed, if it does. I know you learn about this in American History, in probably the ninth grade, but there’s nothing like seeing it up close and personal.”
Hale has been accepted to law school at Oklahoma City University, upon graduation from ECU in May.
Dr. John Ulrich’s presence at ECU through the years made an impression on students.
“He made a big impact on us and we think he was an incredible example of someone who led a life dedicated to public service,” said in a statement from ECU alumni Kyle and Kendall Foster.
With this fellowship, through the ECU Foundation, Inc., and a scholarship through the John J. Ulrich Foundation, students are able to obtain first-hand knowledge about government at the federal level while spending time in Washington D.C.
Ulrich’s legacy will continue to live on in another form at ECU. On Thursday, April 20, which happens to be his birthday, a bench dedication will be held in his honor at 2 p.m.
“John taught for over 30 years and his focus was on East Central,” Lesa Ulrich said.
Dr. John Ulrich started in ECU’s Political Science Department as an assistant professor in 1985, was elevated to associate professor in 1989 and was finally named professor in 1997. He also served as department chair from 1991-96.
Ulrich was a foreign affairs analyst for the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division of the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and was involved in the Star Wars Program (Strategic Defense Initiative) before coming to ECU.
Thursday’s bench dedication, which is open to the public and media outlets, will feature short speeches from ECU President Dr. Katricia Pierson and former ECU President John R. Hargrave, along with Hale; Dan Matas, president of the John J. Ulrich Foundation; and Dr. Christine Pappas, professor and coordinator for ECU’s Political Science and Legal Studies Department.
Contact: Brian Johnson or Amy Ford
East Central University Communications and Marketing
580-559-5650 or 405-812-1428 (cell)