Alumnus donates $1 million for scholarship fund

By Amanda Graf

The University of Illinois recently received a gift of $1 million for use in a scholarship.

Charles Hammond, Jr., 79, donated the money, which will be used to create a scholarship intended for students from Fulton County who attend the University, with preference to students from Hammond’s hometown of Canton, Ill.

Andy Schroeder, a counselor at Canton High School, said the school is excited about the scholarship.

“We have, every year, a handful of students who attend the University of Illinois,” Schroeder said. “If this scholarship can help students in being able to go and help them with their expenses, then we are very appreciative.”

Hammond finished third in his class at Canton High School and was yearbook editor and senior class treasurer. He received the Van B. Eyerly Scholarship which paid for his room and board, among other expenses as an undergraduate at the University. As a young man in Canton, Hammond had no idea he would one day be able to give such a generous gift to his community.

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And the transition from a small town to the University changed Hammond’s outlook on life, he added.

“The University helped open my eyes to a broader perspective,” he said.

The instruction, good teachers and emphasis on learning made an Illinois education very beneficial, he said, adding that the University was not afraid to flunk out a student if they did not succeed.

While on campus, Hammond was in the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and played saxophone in the marching band as a freshman. He graduated cum laude in 1949 and went on to receive his masters and doctoral degrees in economics from the University.

After college, Hammond was an assistant professor of economics and economic history at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. He then spent two years teaching servicemen stationed in Europe through a branch of Maryland University. His greatest career success, he said, was being responsible for assessing the credit-worthiness of overseas projects for the Export-Import Bank of the United States in Washington D.C., which allowed him to travel extensively in the Middle East and Africa.

Currently retired, living in Key West, Fla., Hammond is the chairman of the endowment fund at his Episcopal Church and volunteers with a social agency that assists HIV-positive patients. He said the University is still doing a very good job, and he is happy to see his alma mater among the top-ranked business schools.

Still appreciative of the scholarship that helped him attend the University, Hammond often thought of establishing his own fund.

“I wanted to give back a little bit,” Hammond said.

The University News Bureau reported that Hammond’s gift is part of the $184.9 million in donations received by the University and University of Illinois Foundation in the previous year.

The scholarship will be administered by the University and will be available only after Hammond’s death.