Members of the Half Century Club surprised the president of Fort Hays State University today by awarding a newly created scholarship that was named in his honor.
The Dr. Edward H. Hammond Scholarship was presented to Braden Dreiling, Hays sophomore, at today's spring reception of the Half Century Club in the Robbins Center on the FHSU campus.
Dr. Hammond frequently emphasizes that every decision he makes at the university must first address a basic question: What is best for our students?
"What better represents Dr. Hammond's legacy than a scholarship fund that will provide what has been of primary importance to him throughout his 25 years of outstanding leadership at FHSU -- educational opportunities and a promising future for generations of deserving students," said Leo Lake, Half Century Club president. "We wanted to recognize Dr. Hammond's commitment to the university, and it is our hope that others will now contribute to further enhance the fund for distribution of future scholarships."
The scholarship was two-fold. Lake presented a check for $2,500 to Dreiling, pointing out that it represented $100 for each of President Hammond's 25 years at FHSU. Then he presented a check for $10,000 to the president, which establishes an endowed fund at the FHSU Foundation to pay for the Dr. Edward H. Hammond Scholarship in years to come.
"I had no idea this was coming," Dreiling said. "I appreciate everything President Hammond has done for this university."
President Hammond also admitted that the new scholarship had taken him by surprise. "You couldn't have picked a better student leader on campus," the president said of Dreiling, adding that his name reminded him of another Dreiling, Norbert, who was on the search committee 25 years ago. He said the elder Dreiling had asked him to name his idol. Having researched the members of the search committee and knowing of Dreiling's background in the Democratic Party, Dr. Hammond named a young Democratic senator from Indiana who he admired. Subsequently, he was selected to be president of FHSU.
"So do your homework, and you will be successful," President Hammond advised.
The Half Century Club comprises alumni who have celebrated 50 years as a graduate of the university. FHSU established the club through the Alumni Association in October 1969 as a way of telling graduates: "You are important to us. You are part of our past, and you play an important role in our present and future." Now, 42 years later, the club has grown to 2,532 members. Graduates of the 50-year class are inducted formally during the annual Homecoming meeting. In addition, FHSU faculty and staff become members upon retirement.
The university community -- faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends -- celebrated Dr. Hammond's completion of his 25th year as president with a party on the Quad on April 20. Likewise, members of the Half Century Club have been working for nearly a year to honor the president by surprising him with the scholarship created in his name. By happy coincidence, the surprise announcement of the namesake scholarship also doubled as another kind of gift -- today is the president's birthday!
"No alumni group better personifies the history and legacy of the university than the Half Century Club," said Debra Prideaux, FHSU executive alumni director. "Time and time again, unconditionally, they have given of themselves to further Fort Hays State University's mission, which is evident by this generous gift in honor of Dr. Edward Hammond. It is the Alumni Association’s honor to work with such a dedicated and outstanding group of individuals."
The purpose of the scholarship is to honor Dr. Hammond and to provide financial assistance to students enrolled at FHSU. Funds to support the new scholarship were made possible through donations from the Half Century Club. The fund is considered an open-ended account, which means that additional contributions may be made in the future by FHSU alumni and friends. The scholarship will be held in a permanent account with the FHSU Foundation. The annual available earnings from the principal will be the basis for the annual awards. All future contributions to this endowed fund will be added to the cash balance of this account, unless otherwise designated by the donor."With hard work and dedication, this fund in honor of Dr. Hammond is now endowed," said Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation. "Others can contribute to the fund at any time. Future gifts can be designated to be invested in the principal of the fund or to be expendable as part of the annual awards. There is no question when the news is released that the Half Century Club established this fund in honor of Dr. Hammond that others will follow the club's lead in wanting to honor our president with additional support for the Hammond Scholarship."
Dreiling, the first recipient of the scholarship, was selected by the Half Century Club Executive Council to receive the one-time $2,500 scholarship to further his education at FHSU. Dreiling is a political science major with an economics minor and a nearly perfect grade point average. He plans a career in law or politics. In addition to his academic performance, he has distinguished himself in extracurricular activities. He studied abroad at Sias International University in Xinzheng, China, attended the National Center for Student Leadership in Miami, currently serves as a senator in the Student Government Association and has volunteered for various community projects, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kids Vote and Special Olympics. Also, he is currently serving as student liaison under the director of state governmental relations for FHSU.
Future recipients of the Dr. Edward H. Hammond Scholarship must be a junior or senior enrolled at FHSU with a minimum GPA of 3.5, be considered in need of financial support and display strong leadership skills and campus involvement. If other criteria for applicants are equal, primary consideration or preference will be given to the descendant of a Half Century Club member. Selection shall be made in the spring of each year for awarding in the following fall.