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FHSU prepares for big changes with top officials leaving

12/30/2013

A look at some of the top stories from northwest Kansas in 2013.

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

There will be some significant changes at Fort Hays State University next year after its top two administrators made announcements during the fall semester they would be stepping down.

Edward Hammond, president of FHSU since 1987, announced he would retire from his presidency next summer.

Approximately at month earlier, Larry Gould -- who has had many positions at FHSU since 1981, including provost since 1998 -- resigned in October, citing his interest in returning to the classroom.

Gould hopes to return to teaching, something he hasn't done in nearly a quarter century, while Hammond plans to work as a consultant at FHSU for at least a year after leaving his position.

Hammond said he still could "be a fundraiser and a cheerleader for Fort Hays State University without being president."

He already has taken steps in that direction.

Earlier this month, the FHSU Foundation announced a one-year scholarship campaign to raise $8 million for scholarships as a way of recognizing Hammond's 27 years of service at the university.

Chris Crawford, assistant provost for 10 years, took over as interim provost while the university performs a national search for Gould. And Hammond's role as a consultant also will keep some consistency at Fort Hays.

"There obviously will be change," Hammond said of filling the top two vacancies. "But a lot of people don't understand the solid foundation that we already have here. We have very strong (vice presidents) and deans right now, and we are as strong in student affairs as we've been since I've been here."

Hammond committed to stay at Fort Hays for 10 years when he took over as a 43-year-old fast-moving, pioneering spirit in 1987.

"If you're making progress, it isn't a lighting process; it's a march," he said. "I thought to get anything major accomplished, you have to be some place at least 10 years."

Coincidentally, it was approximately 11 years into his tenure when Hammond interviewed for the presidency of Western Kentucky University. After taking the trip to Bowling Green, Ky., to check out the job, Hammond came back with a new resolve he wasn't going anywhere.

"What changed my mind about that was the tremendous support in the community," Hammond said.

Some of that support came in the form of a large advertisement in the local newspaper with a list of names asking Hammond to stay in Hays.

"I thought, 'With that kind of support, why start over someplace else?' " he said.

Hammond said he used that same kind of support "as leverage to move this institution forward, and I have not looked at anything else since then."