Change has been a constant for some time at Fort Hays State University. New programs, technologies, buildings, roads, facilities, online ventures and overseas partnerships don't surprise even the most casual observer. Neither do records being set with enrollment, capital campaigns and annual fund drives.
Innovate, plan and succeed has been the defacto mantra at an institution that unveils a new slogan every year.
The one constant through all the change, growth and transformation has been President Edward H. Hammond. As the longest-serving current president or chancellor in the Kansas Regents system and the longest-tenured president in FHSU history, one only could surmise retirement would happen sooner or later.
Last week, Dr. Hammond disclosed this school year -- his 27th -- will be the final one as top Tiger. He's heeding the example set by his father to retire "at the top of his game."
"The university is doing very well," Hammond said in remarks to The Hays Daily News.
"It's right for the university; it's right for me personally."
It is no surprise Hammond has the entire retirement process planned and calculated. He will step down in June 2014, remain in Hays, and stay involved as a hired consultant for the Regents.
"Fort Hays State University has unique assets in both its Virtual College and in its relationships in China," said Fred Logan, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, "and we want Dr. Hammond to assist the new president to make sure those assets remain strong."
Logan said there will be an extensive nationwide search to identify the ninth president for FHSU.
While internal candidates could emerge, it appears they might not include the up-until-recently heir apparent. Dr. Larry Gould, who was the university provost for 16 years until three weeks ago when he abruptly resigned, plans to return to the classroom.
Hammond long has surrounded himself with bold thinkers like Gould. Which is why we won't put the wraps on Hammond's career until it's actually over. In Tiger time, June is a long time away.
Still, the university has had a great run under the direction of Edward H. Hammond. Fort Hays State University is well-positioned as it prepares for a new president.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry