“It is a tragic loss for our nation that his tenure has been cut so short,” Mark Weinberg, Director of Communications for the Endowment, 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.”
Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, also expressed his regrets and noted officially, “I was deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death last night of Michael Hammond, who had been Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts for just one week. All of us at Americans for the Arts had been buoyed by his appointment as Chairman, because of his lifelong devotion to the arts and to arts education. . . .As a distinguished educator, composer, conductor, and champion of the arts, Michael Hammond brought a wide range of talents to the role of Chairman, and his appointment held great promise. The world of the arts is diminished by his departure but blessed by his lifelong dedication and contribution.”
Hammond was sworn-in as NEA Chairman on January 22, 2002. Previously, he was Dean of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. He is survived by his wife, Anne Lilley Hammond, and their son, Thomas M. Hammond, an actor in New York. Funeral arrangements are pending.
For detailed biographical information about Hammond, please see NewMusicBox news item “Michael P. Hammond Unanimously Confirmed as New NEA Chairman”