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Power of one prez

Fundraising for scholarships is an ongoing, sometimes tedious task at every university in the nation.

Goals generally are met, but there is nothing easy about it. Often, campaigns are extended, volunteer and paid staff time is expanded, and special appeals are made to long-standing generous donors simply to eke out the target amount.

So when a school reports achieving a year-long goal that is four times higher than any previous fundraiser -- and doing it within six months -- something remarkable is taking place.

Residents of northwest Kansas should not be surprised that is exactly what has happened at Fort Hays State University.

At the annual President's Dinner last week, outgoing FHSU President Edward Hammond announced the Power of One Scholarship Campaign had exceeded its $8 million target by $268,392. Not willing to rest on any laurels or slow the momentum, Hammond added: "Our new goal is to raise $1 million a month."

That would make $12 million in scholarship dollars, a heretofore unimagined amount for a university that never has raised $2 million in one year.

"It's a horrible thing to waste an opportunity, and we have more than half the year to go," Hammond said. "As I step down as president, this gives me something to do."

FHSU's leader has slightly more than two weeks left before Mirta Martin assumes the reins. But Hammond will be on contract as a consultant for at least one more year. And if his pending departure is fueling the generosity of donors, we can't think of a better role for the long-time president.

"Within a couple weeks of (announcing my retirement), I announced we would use this as an opportunity to raise money for the students," Hammond said.

It has paid off. And then some.

Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation, said a special $500,000 gift from Bob and Pat Schmidt and Don and Chris Bickle will be used to establish the Dr. Edward H. Hammond Endowed Chair. Incoming President Martin will be the first Distinguished Hammond Chair.

"What we've really seen and are experiencing today is the beginning of a legacy," Chapman said. "We will forever attach Hammond's name to the presidency of this institution."

We are confident this chair will not be the only item on campus named after Hammond. His tenure has lifted Fort Hays to new heights, and the school will soar because of his efforts long after he is gone.

We congratulate Hammond for taking on student scholarships as a personal cause. Future Tigers for years to come will benefit as a result.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net