Michael P. Hammond, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, died on January 29 of what appeared to be natural causes. He was 69. Hammond had officially assumed his duties as chairman on January 22.
Eileen Mason, the senior deputy chairwoman of the NEA, will serve as acting chairwoman until Hammond's replacement is found.
In a statement released by the White House, President Bush said, "Michael Hammond was an accomplished conductor, composer, and advocate of the arts. His commitment to excellence and his extraordinary talents will be greatly missed."
Upon his confirmation by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001, Hammond said, "I will advocate especially for policies and practices that enhance the experience of our young people by giving them the insights and skills that lead to understanding and participation in the arts."
Hammond replaced Bill Ivey, who resigned as chairman on September 30, eight months before the end of his four-year term.