Colorado State Alumnus Gives $424,000 Toward New Physics Addition

A Colorado State University alumnus, whose brilliant career in science and industry spans nearly 50 years, and his late wife have contributed $424,000 toward construction of a new home for the physics department.

The gift from Don and Phyllis "Whitty" Hammond represents the single largest contribution to the physics department and was announced at a press conference today (Friday) by Colorado State University President Albert Yates.

"Don and Phyllis Hammond’s generosity will help bring about a new era of physics education at Colorado State that continues to focus on teaching innovation and encourages active participation in the learning process," Yates said. "The Hammonds’ strong commitment to this university is an example of how critical alumni support is to the future success of this institution."

Hammond, who credits his late wife Phyllis Hammond for making the physics gift happen, said he wanted to give back to a program that served as the foundation for many of his professional achievements. Hammond earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950, a master’s degree in 1952 and an honorary doctoral science degree in 1974–all from Colorado State.

"This gift is about great students, a great university and opportunities for education that make a difference in the lives of individuals and society," Hammond said.

The Hammond gift will help fund a two-story, 11,000 square- foot addition on the south side of D and E wings in the Engineering Building, which will serve as the new home for much of the physics department’s teaching program. The addition will include four teaching laboratories for undergraduates, a student reading room and mezzanine for students to study in groups or work with tutors.

The first floor includes new offices for physics department staff, a modern auditorium that seats 120 students and permanent space for the department’s Little Shop of Physics, a popular outreach program that uses hands-on experiments to illustrate to youth the basic concepts of physics.

In addition, two existing physics classrooms as well as faculty and research labs located in D Wing will be renovated as part of a comprehensive remodeling and construction project in the Engineering Building. Construction begins this month and will be complete in mid-1999. The new addition will face the university’s water plaza now under construction.

The project will greatly enhance classrooms and equip physics labs with the latest technology. In addition to more than 100 students pursuing physics degrees, about 1,800 students from all sectors of the university enroll in physics and astronomy courses each semester. The physics department has nearly 600 alumni and 20 faculty members, 15 of whom supervise major research projects in addition to their teaching responsibilities.

The Hammonds have been strong supporters of Colorado State University for many years, contributing to the Weber Scholarship Fund named after Professor Louis Weber, who led the physics department from 1939 to 1965, and his wife Gladys. In 1992, Hammond received the William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award for his contributions to science and industry and has served on Colorado State’s Foundation Board and the College of Natural Sciences External Advisory Committee.

Hammond’s 50-year professional career is studded with notable achievements, including the development of inventions such as time standards for space navigation, high-speed computer printers and medical ultrasound technology.

In 1953, Hammond accepted the position as chief of crystal research for the U.S. Army at Fort Monmouth, N.J. He left the labs in 1956, and with three partners started a venture that is now known as Colorado Crystal Corporation based in Loveland, a manufacturer of precision quartz crystals used in communication and instruments.

In 1959, Hammond was asked by Hewlett-Packard Co. to start a department to produce precision quartz crystals for high-speed counters and frequency counters. He led the department for five years, and during his tenure he built the company’s technology to the point that it was known as one of the most precise quartz crystal manufacturing facilities in the world.

Hammond was appointed in 1966 as one of three initial directors for the newly-created Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. The labs, which sought to develop new products and conduct research, was the spawning ground for many of HP’s new products and new business ventures. Ultrasound technology developed in Hammond’s lab helped HP become a leader in the medical ultrasound industry. Other products produced in the lab included mass spectroscopy, laser interferometry and the early development of laser jet and inkjet printers. Today, these printers are one of the company’s best-selling products.

Hammond rounded out his career at the company by starting HP Labs in Europe in 1983, then serving from 1986 until his retirement as director of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories.