- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Michael P. Hammond, who had been named chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts a little more than a month ago, died yesterday of natural causes at his Northwest residence. He was 69.
Mr. Hammond left work early on Monday with flulike symtoms, according to NEA spokesman Mark Weinberg. He also left early during a Shakespeare Theatre event Monday night.
When he did not arrive at work yesterday morning, staff members who had tried to reach him called police, Mr. Weinberg said. They found Mr. Hammond dead at his home.
"It is a tragic loss to our nation that his tenure has been cut so short," Mr. Weinberg said in a statement. "All of us at the NEA had looked forward to his leadership, and we join our colleagues in the arts community in mourning his passing."
President Bush who nominated Mr. Hammond to be the NEA chairman said in a statement last night: "Michael Hammond was an accomplished conductor, composer, and advocate of the arts. His commitment to excellence and his extraordinary talents will be greatly missed."
A native of Kenosha, Wis., Mr. Hammond was a conductor and composer. He was the dean of the School of Music at Rice University in Houston when Mr. Bush nominated him.
Mr. Hammond had been a professor at Rice since 1986. He was a specialist in medieval and Renaissance music as well as Indian music and culture. He also taught neuroscience at Rice.
He succeeded NEA Chairman William Ivey, who retired at the end of September.
In 1954, Mr. Hammond graduated with honors from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., where he received a bachelor's degree in classics, philosophy and pre-med.
Mr. Hammond is survived by his wife, Anne Lilley Hammond, and their son Thomas M. Hammond of New York. Another son preceded Mr. Hammond in death.
His funeral and burial are pending. They likely will be in New York state near Westchester, because Mr. Hammond was once president of the nearby State University of New York at Purchase.
Until the White House decides on a follow-up nomination, NEA Senior Deputy Eileen Mason will be the agency's interim chairman, Mr. Weinberg said.

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