KSU donor endows scholarships to help those who help others

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 22, 2020

Retired businessman Mike Hammond is showing his appreciation for the nursing profession, and Kennesaw State University students are the beneficiaries.

Mike Hammond
Mike Hammond
Hammond is providing financial aid to students enrolled in both the Wellstar School of Nursing and KSU Journey Honors College, through the Henry Michael Hammond Scholarship Endowment that was established at the end of last year. The Forsyth County resident was inspired to donate to a university with a nursing school as a thank-you for the exceptional care he received from nurses – a number of whom were Kennesaw State graduates – while being treated for health issues.

“I grew to appreciate and respect the role that nurses play in the health care system,” Hammond said. “They took care of my physical needs, but I also got the impression that they cared about me as a person. Knowing that they cared helped me recover and get better.”

Hammond arranged a visit to Kennesaw State through his friend Scott Bryant, KSU’s associate vice president for development, and came away impressed by the campus and the students, faculty and staff he met. In addition to his initial idea to fund nursing scholarships, Hammond met Dean Rita Bailey and learned about the innovative, interdisciplinary opportunities available to students in KSU Journey Honors College.

As a result, Hammond became the first external donor to utilize the matching opportunity from John and Rosemary Brown’s $10 million commitment for scholarships for Honors students. Hammond’s gift of $50,000 was matched 100 percent by the Browns and 50 percent by the KSU Foundation for a total endowment of $125,000 to support Honors students who are nursing majors.

Hammond, 71, who retired in 2006 after nearly 30 years in accounting and finance with General Motors Corporation, hopes that his donation will inspire other people to follow suit.

“I was not a CEO, I am not a billionaire, I am more or less an ordinary middle-class person who could do this,” he said. “And if I can do it, others can too. I encourage other people to support Kennesaw State in general, and Honors and nursing in particular.”

That type of support will help Kennesaw State continue to address Georgia’s need for qualified nurses. The state’s nursing shortage has reached a crisis level, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

“Our nursing students are high achievers, and Mike Hammond’s generous gift will make a difference in their lives for years to come,” said Yvonne Eaves, chair of the Wellstar School of Nursing. “After a few personal experiences with health challenges, Mr. Hammond explained to us that the nurses who cared for him really helped bring him back to good health. He wanted to pay it forward and thought that giving this endowed scholarship would be a great way to do just that.”

Hammond’s philanthropy also resonated with Alice Barry, the president of KSU’s Student Nurses Association. Barry won’t directly benefit from Hammond’s contribution since she is graduating in July, but she knows it will enhance other students’ training at Kennesaw State to become nurses.

“The generous donation from Mr. Hammond will allow deserving students to grow and develop their nursing skills to continue to provide excellent health care in Georgia,” Barry said. “It warms my heart to know that these nursing students will have the opportunity to become strong nurses and my future co-workers.”

After touring Kennesaw State and establishing his scholarship endowment, Hammond already is feeling part of the Owl family. He plans to expand on that this fall by making more trips to campus and spending time with students, faculty and staff. For example, Hammond – a self-described book lover – is interested in sitting in on a class that is part of the Great Books cohort in KSU Journey Honors College.

“I hope to be a frequent visitor to Kennesaw State,” he said.

Hammond also has endowed a need-based scholarship fund at his alma mater, Georgia Tech.

“I view Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State as complementary institutions, with both schools serving the region and beyond,” Hammond said. “Tech works to make the world better through technology, while KSU trains critically needed, caring nurses among many other disciplines.”

Prospective donors should be aware that the CARES Act of 2020 legislates enhanced tax benefits for charitable contributions. Interested parties should contact KSU’s Office of Development and their tax advisor.

– Paul Floeckher

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.