Harding University

August 22, 2012

Birthday celebration to be held in honor of retired department chairman

On Aug. 25, a 90th birthday celebration will be held in honor of Dr. Evan Ulrey, a 1946 alumnus and retired faculty member at Harding University.

Ulrey was born and raised in Illinois and moved to Dearborn, Mich., after graduating from high school. He worked in Detroit for two years and went on to attend Harding College.

After majoring in Bible, English and speech, he began preaching in Arkansas. Dr. George S. Benson encouraged Ulrey to pursue a doctoral degree and return to teach at Harding.

Given an opportunity to work with the church in Baton Rouge, La., Ulrey then earned his Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Louisiana State University. Ulrey returned to Harding in fall 1950 and was named chairman of the department of speech. In 1951, Ulrey married Betty Lou Thornton.

During his career, Ulrey sponsored Pi Kappa Delta honorary forensics society and the intercollegiate debate team. He also served as executive secretary-treasurer of Arkansas Speech Association, editor of Speech in Arkansas and Southern representative to the legislative committee for Speech Association of America. He was named Arkansas Speech Teacher of the Year in 1986 and directed the Arkansas Consortium for the Humanities.

After acquiring the Whitaker Furniture Manufacturing Plant in 2006, Harding renovated the building, and, in 2007, the $1.1 million project culminated in the dedication of the Ulrey Performing Arts Center, named in honor of Ulrey. The center contains the theatre program, Searcy Summer Dinner Theatre and provides facilities for offices, ticket sales, costume storage and set production.

The birthday celebration for Ulrey will be held Aug. 25 in the Ulrey Performing Arts Center from 3:30-4:30 p.m. In lieu of gifts, donations may be made to the Ulrey Performing Arts Center.