July 16, 2010
Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond Press Conference Quotes Friday, July 16, 2010
Opening Statement... "I flew into Gulfport yesterday and got into a rental car and started driving this direction. I got about halfway here, between Hattiesburg and Gulfport, and it started coming back. I had that feeling I felt when I was a freshman when I first arrived here; the feeling of two-a-days about to start, and the excitement of coming home. I arrived on campus, and I went to the football stadium. I looked out on this magnificent home we call `The Rock', M.M. Roberts Stadium. It is magnificent because of what it has become in the years since I was here in the past. Then I took my walk toward Danforth Chapel, and I walked inside the chapel, and I hit my knees and thanked God for letting this opportunity present itself. It was the same routine that I had as a football player here. After every home game I would depart the locker room and head to Danforth Chapel and thank God for another day.
What I want you to know is that my wife, Diane, and I are so grateful to the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Saunders, and Mr. Giannini for this incredible opportunity to return to our roots. These are our roots. This is our beloved alma mater. It is an opportunity of a lifetime. It is one of the greatest honors I've ever had, to come back and serve and work for the betterment of the university community--a community--that we love so much. You need to know that I am forever, forever indebted to the University of Southern Mississippi for caring and nurturing me as a college student and young adult. This great institution instilled in me the foundation for life-long success through three things: an absolutely remarkable high-quality education, responsible social growth, and leader development. I wear this ring on my right hand. This is who I am. I wear the ring, my class ring, with the golden "M" of the university. And on the walls of my home there are three diplomas, one belongs to my wife, and two belong to me here from the University of Southern Mississippi. I love our creative, our bold, and our determined people that make this university such a great place. I am living a dream by having the opportunity to come back here. And again, Mr. Giannini, I am so grateful to you for your support, your trust, your confidence, and sir, president of the university, and the university family, I am grateful to you for the support that you have continued to provide for this great program here. I just can't wait to jump into this with the fire in my belly into the future."
What made this a good option for you since retiring from the military?... "I served 31 years of honorable duty to our country. I commanded at every level. My wife and I, we love soldiers and families. I've deployed on three different combat tours, including an initial deployment into Bosnia. I've done a lot of things. It was in my heart and it is what I wanted to do. But we've reached this point in our lives where after this last deployment to Baghad , where I commanded forces for 15 months, we looked at each other and I realized that, first, I wanted to spend more time with my family. And number two, I wanted to spend the next 31 years of my life serving the University of Southern Mississippi."
On his position at the University of Southern Mississippi... (Mr. Giannini) and I have had quite a few talks. More important than anything else, he is going to have me work athletic development, focused on annual giving, major giving, as well as working as a liaison to the University Alumni Association. Really seeking every opportunity that's out there to advance this University, its' interests and its gifted athletic department. I'm going to take my lead from the boss. He is going to give me good direction. I am going to learn everyday as I go. But the one thing no one is going to have to teach me is that I have a big fire brewing in this belly for Black and Gold.
From your life experience, what do you think will make you a success in fundraising... "The last 20 years, I've had senior level, operation management experience; managing large budgets, providing strategic management guidance, developing plans and bringing constituents together from all walks of life and try to get them focused as a team on a single mission to succeed. And in the business that I've been in, the stakes are pretty high if you get that wrong. But that's what I've been doing the last 20 years in particular. Building teams. And I think that everything that I've done is transferrable here at the Southern Miss Athletic Department. It is about touching hearts. It is about appealing to an incredible support network of people who love this university as much as we do. And bringing them all aboard so that all the rows are hitting the water at the same time. That's kind of what a senior army officer does, and that's what I've been doing."
What accomplishments in your career are high on your list... "I hope I'm not too premature, but I've loved serving the army, serving soldiers and their families. But right now, today, as I look you in the eye, the greatest accomplishment is coming home to serve the people who I admire and love so much. I can't wait until tomorrow. Each day from here on out is going to be a whole new adventure with excitement and energy. I go back to Larry Fedora's mantra. `Attack, Attack, Attack.'"