Faith sustained Beverly “Bev” Ulbricht ’50 when she boarded a train from Lyle, Washington, in August 1946 and headed for Valparaiso to attend a university more than 2,000 miles from home.
Arriving on campus a few days early, Bev was assigned to Altruria Hall and can still remember standing on the balcony that overlooked the large central parlor area. In addition to being the women’s residence hall, Altruria also housed the University Restaurant and was the main social center of the campus.
Although it was a difficult decision for Bev to leave the Pacific Northwest to attend Valparaiso University, her choice was made easier by the faith formed from her Lutheran upbringing. Her grandfather had been a Lutheran “circuit rider pastor” in Nebraska, serving four congregations in a month, and later served in parishes in Minnesota and North Dakota. In addition, there was a strong Lutheran community in her hometown of Klickitat, Washington.
Bev says her transition to Valpo was made easier by being assigned to “two wonderful roommates,” Wanda Jerzyk ’50 Schoenbohm and Marilyn Dietrich ’50 Krautstrunk.
While pursuing her bachelor of arts in English, Bev had the opportunity to study under some outstanding faculty members. She recalls Herbert Umbach, Ph.D., who was a Concordia Seminary graduate with a Cornell doctorate and a scholar of John Donne’s poetry. Professor Umbach’s lectures reinforced Bev’s passion for the English language.
For almost 40 years, Bev helped high school students improve their writing skills. She taught high school English for 30 years in California and seven years in Oregon. That passion to teach English was rooted in her undergraduate days at Valpo and fur-ther developed while earning a master of arts in English from the renowned Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont. She remembers several Bread Loaf professors who enriched her teaching career: George Anderson, a Chaucer Scholar, Brown University; Carlos Baker, an Ernest Hemingway scholar, Princeton University; and William Meredith, poet and short-story writer. In addition, Robert Frost, who lived near the campus, was a frequent visitor.
“It is so important to have good writing skills, and I think the best way to develop as a writer is by letting others read your work,” Bev said. “The positive reinforcement we receive from others is critical to improvement.”
While English has always been Bev’s strongest passion, music was a close second. She took organ lessons from Professor M. Alfred Bichsel, who had been recruited by President O.P. Kretzmann for his excellence in organ and liturgical services. Professor Bichsel was one of many strong members of the music department.
One of the key priorities of Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future is to support students of promise — women and men of character who have a propensity to lead and a desire to serve. And now, thanks to Bev, students in secondary education and church vocations will have the opportunity to pursue their passions, as she has established two endowed scholarship funds at Valpo that reflect her faith, professional interests, and desire to encourage and support the next generation of teachers.
The Beverly Ulbricht Endowed Scholarship Fund in Secondary Education will provide scholarship assistance to undergraduate students who are pursuing a teaching career in secondary education, with preference to students who are majoring in English. The Clem and Anne Ulbricht Endowed Scholarship Fund in Church Vocations has been created to honor her parents. The fund will provide scholarship assistance to undergraduate students who are pursuing a career in pro-fessional church vocations, including church music; deaconess training; teacher education; pre-seminary studies; and youth, family, and education ministry.
Faith was what brought Bev Ulbricht to Valpo, and it has guided her throughout her life. Her nearly 40-year teaching career has impacted thousands of students, her service to her church and community continues today, and her endowed scholarships will forever support Valpo students. Bev is a true example of a Valpo graduate — a good person doing great things in a world that needs her.