By Lee Howard
Publication: The Day
Waterford - Ulysses Hammond has community service as "a fabric of his being," said his wife of 33 years after a ceremony Monday at which the local resident was named winner of the 2012 William Crawford Distinguished Service Award from the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.
"He's just always been attracted to service," Christine Hammond said. "His personality is an up one. He looks around and sees what needs to be done and gets involved."
The Crawford Award is handed out by the Chamber to residents of eastern Connecticut who make significant contributions to serving their community. William Stanley, chairman of the Chamber's board, said the award is announced as a deserving candidate is identified, rather than annually, as with the Citizen of the Year Award.
Hammond, who oversees business operations for Connecticut College, has chaired four major boards in the region during his 12 years in the region: at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, the Chamber and the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund. At Connecticut College, his title is vice president of administration, and he previously was the first African-American to administer a U.S. appellate and general jurisdiction court system.
Despite all the high-powered appointments, however, Hammond said his favorite way to serve the community has been washing dishes for the New London Meals Center.
"It's one of the ways you can give back and absolutely no one knows that you're there," Hammond said. "That's what service is all about."
Hammond, currently in charge of leading a 10-year, $85 million campus renewal project at Connecticut College, also tutors at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London and sings in the men's chorus at Shiloh Baptist Church in New London, where he also has been mentoring young men.
"Being committed to his community is not a temporary situation (for Hammond)," said Tony Sheridan, president and chief executive of the Chamber.
Stanley called Hammond a hands-on leader who has great vision and works hard.
"He's someone who finds 30 or 40 hours in every day while the rest of us have only 24 hours," Stanley said in a separate interview after the announcement.
Hammond, who has three grown children and six grandchildren, thanked the Chamber and the 20 or so people who gathered for the announcement.
"It's a very humbling award," he said. "It feels a great deal like winning the gold (at the Olympics)."