After more than 35 years of service at Auburn University, Dr. Pam Ulrich is set to retire from the College of Human Sciences where she spent the past five years serving as the Department Head of Consumer and Design Sciences.
Fighting back tears, Ulrich called the College of Human Sciences a “great place to work” while reminiscing on the relationships she’s made and personally what Auburn University has meant to her after all these years.
“The people, the collegiality, the leadership and I’ve really been lucky to be here for all those things and those reasons,” Ulrich said. “In terms of collegiality and ties between departments and within departments it’s only become stronger over time. Both deans’ leadership has been great and it’s been a great set of people to work with.”
Echoing that sentiment was Dean of the College of Human Sciences Susan Hubbard, who praised Ulrich’s leadership capabilities and passion she brought to work each day.
“Pam has a genuine care for the department and the people,” Hubbard said. “She has put in numerous hours shaping the apparel program and also in the latter years leading as department head. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that her most treasured memory of her time here is working with people she genuinely enjoys. That’s a great description of the College of Human Sciences as a whole, and Pam certainly added to the collaborative spirit.”
Born in Seattle, Ulrich completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Apparel and Textiles from Oregon State University in 1971 and it wasn’t until 1978 when she found her way to Auburn University after her husband took a job in nearby Columbus, Ga.
Once she completed her Master’s Degree at Auburn University in 1980, Ulrich moved back to the northwest to work as an instructor at Oregon State University in conjunction with completing her Ph.D. at the University of Oregon.
After working as an instructor at Oregon State for six years, Ulrich and her husband found their way back to Columbus and beginning in 1987, Ulrich reunited with former Auburn professors and began working as an instructor at Auburn.
Since that time, she has been an integral part in the College of Human Sciences where she worked her way up from part-time instructor, tenured full-time professor, graduate program officer and lastly to Consumer and Design Sciences department head. In addition, Ulrich has served on a number of different committees ranging from graduation marshal to the university budget advisory committee.
“I was on the university curriculum committee when we went from quarters to semesters and spent five years doing that,” Ulrich said. “It was enjoyable but stressful, but I also really enjoyed being the graduation marshal and working with graduation. For several years, I was also involved for changes within the core curriculum so I’ve done a good bit of curriculum work and graduation are the biggest contributions.”
Ulrich has spent the majority of her time on campus inside Spidle Hall. With a Ph.D. in American History, Ulrich loves telling the history within the walls of Spidle Hall while also describing the changes that have come to campus on the outside.
“Physically, Auburn has changed a lot like before when I was a student you could drive everywhere on campus,” Ulrich said. “In terms of going back all the years, I think a favorite thing is Auburn has become more pedestrian friendly and some universities as they grow, there isn’t a uniformity of thought. Other than Haley Center, Auburn has really kept to the theme of the brick buildings and they’ve kept the same feeling in the core of campus so it’s a beautiful place to walk.”
Ulrich navigated the Consumer and Design Sciences department through perhaps the biggest hurdle in her career, the COVID-19 pandemic. A time of unknowns and anxiousness, and a time when Hubbard said true leaders emerged.
“Pam led through the pandemic with such grace and strong leadership and I personally appreciated that very much,” Hubbard said. “That was no easy task during a very difficult time in our history, and certainly in higher education. It was a time for true leaders to step up and Pam did just that.”
After completing her final day as department head on June 30, Ulrich plans to travel more and spend more time with family once moving to Decatur, Ga. “I plan to travel more because we were unable to travel due to the pandemic,” Ulrich said. “I’ll also be there to be a backup system for our granddaughter and travel more to Dallas where our son is but relaxing also sounds good. I’ll only be two hours away so I’m sure we’ll be back quite a bit.”
As an expression of deep appreciation for her years of valuable service to Auburn University, Ulrich was named Professor and Head Emerita, Department of Consumer and Design Sciences effective July 1, 2022.