By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

What's an appropriate gift for a man when he retires after 27 years as president of a university?

Money? As CEO in a Kansas Board of Regents institution, he has been well compensated monetarily over the years.

A golf cart? Got that for his 25th anniversary at Fort Hays two years ago as a gift from his wife.

Ed Hammond is the epitome of a "young" 70. So he certainly didn't want a rocking chair when he stepped down as president of Fort Hays State University.

So while talking to Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the Fort Hays State University Foundation one day last fall about retirement gift ideas, Hammond said he would rather that planning and money it would take for a big retirement party and gift go into something for the students.

So, how does a scholarship campaign sound? Chapman asked.

"When I first got here in 1987, scholarships were the number one priority, and they have been ever since," Hammond said.

"And they always will be," Chapman added.

Thus was born the Power of One Scholarship Campaign, a year-long effort that has blown away all other scholarship campaigns at Fort Hays.

Hammond said the name of the campaign was chosen to represent the fact that "every single dollar makes a difference."

It also could signify the power of one president for nearly 30 decades.

The $8 million campaign got off to a fast start with several hefty contributions to go along with numerous others of all amounts.

"Ed's done some great, great things here at Fort Hays," Chapman said. "So a lot of these (contributions) are in honor of his work here. People wanted to make a gift during this campaign in recognition of Ed."

"We knew it had to be a quick, one-year effort," Chapman added. "We were hoping the leverage we tried to utilize was for the recognition of Dr. Hammond's leadership role, and people have really stepped to the plate."

Hammond, who remains on staff at Fort Hays as a consultant, helped with this campaign first-hand.

"They've all been fun," Hammond said of campaigns. "Here, it's been enjoyable to see how many alumni and friends are willing to invest in our students."

When the $8 million target was met halfway through the campaign, the goal was extended to $12 million.

"We knew $12 million would be a stretch, but we're getting close," Chapman said in mid December. "We'll take every dollar until midnight on the 31st, and we're excited to announce the final number Jan. 6."

A large donation by a Hays couple, in addition to a matching gift of the same amount of $100,000, was made in early December to bring the goal to within $150,000. More contributions over the next two weeks pushed the total amount near the total even closer by Dec. 13, a date (12-13-14) that won't happen again another hundred years.

Students could still being affected by this scholarship campaign in 2114.

"The impact of this is huge," Chapman said. "As long as the markets don't crash, and (the principal) doesn't go to zero, this will go on indefinitely so the benefit to the students will be long, long lasting."