Monday, May 23, 2016

Celeste Ulrich: Dog Trainer and Professor of Physical Education

Dr. Celeste Ulrich, long time professor of physical education at UNCG, was also known for her dog training skills.  Several newspaper articles cited her expertise with man's best friend and her love for dogs, particularly her favorite Collie, "Rory."  But there's much more to the story of Dr. Ulrich...

Dr. Celeste Ulrich, c. 1956
Celeste Ulrich was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1924.  She came to the Woman's College (now UNCG) as a student in the Physical Education program in 1942, the height of WWII.  In an oral history interview, Dr. Ulrich recalled the effects of the war on the students at Woman's College.
"We had, at that time, there was only one telephone to every dormitory and so that therefore the students took turns in manning the telephone and when a telephone call came in to a specific girl, you had to call over the loudspeaker and announce, “Mary Jones, you have a call down here.” And anytime that there was a phone called—phone calls were not made in that time just for fun and you knew that something terrible had happened and one of my poignant memories was the fact that as you called up over the amplifier to hear an absolute scream of horror from the girl as they say, “Mary Jones, you  3 have a telephone call.” And then to hear this shriek knowing then it probably announced the death of somebody."
In addition to her memories of WWII, Dr. Ulrich recalled all of the wonderful faculty on campus. She was especially fond of her experiences with Harriet Elliott who served as Chair of Woman's Division of the War Finance Committee.  Through Dr. Elliott, Celeste met Eleanor Roosevelt during one of the First Lady's visits to campus.  Dr. Ulrich was also a student of Mary Channing Coleman, first head of the Physical Education Department at Woman's College.  According to Dr. Ulrich, Miss Coleman "brooked no nonsense. When we first arrived she told us—she looked at us and said to us, “Three fourths of you will never graduate from my course.” She said, “If you survive, you are going be second to none.”"

Dr. Ulrich graduated from Woman's College in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.  She received her M.A. from UNC - Chapel Hill in 1948 and a Ph.D in Physical Education from University of Southern California in 1956.

Dr. Ulrich returned to the Woman's College as faculty in 1956. She was an active member of many professional organizations, including the North Carolina Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (NCAHPER), where she served as Chairman of the Therapeutics Section and Vice President of the Health Division; The American Associations for Health, Physical Education and Recreation; The Southern and National Associations for Physical Education of College Women; and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Throughout her career, Dr. Ulrich became involved with issues dealing with women's rights and sports. She was named president of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER) in 1976.  As president, she pursued an effort "to restore some sanity in amateur sports - particularly at the collegiate level."  She stated, "there are literally hundreds of colleges where athletics have been priced beyond where anybody can handle it, where the entertainment element in collegiate athletics has become dominant over the educational element...I would like to see sports become educational again." A point of discussion which is still raised today.

In 1977, she received the 1st distinguished alumni award presented by the UNCG School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, where she was lauded as a teacher, a speaker, a writer, and a professional leader.  In 1979, Dr. Ulrich left UNCG to become the Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Oregon.

No comments:

Post a Comment