Stephanie Hammitt, first female president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, dies at 60 – Duluth News Tribune

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CLOQUET — Stephanie Hammitt, a financial manager by trade and the first female president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, died Monday of cancer.

she was 60

.

The Minnesota state board of trustees named Hammitt, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, president of the university in 2019.

His legacy at the university will include his smash through the glass ceiling and the applause that accompanied it, but Hammitt’s family members indicated it extends well beyond that. Hammitt helped earn the school’s first four-year degree and re-accredited his nursing program; he was instrumental in building their new outdoor classroom; and he led the university through the first and most tense waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She was a quiet leader,” Brian Hammitt, Stephanie’s husband, told the News Tribune Tuesday afternoon.

More generally, Stephanie also enjoyed promoting Native American culture at the university and at Northland. She was proud of the school’s dual role as community and tribal college, according to her family.

“She was just a proud member of the Fond du Lac Band,” her son Matt Hammitt said.

In a group interview Tuesday, the Hammitt family described Stephanie as a loving, involved mother and wife whose face would light up when she saw her grandchildren or betray how nervous she was when she watched her children race stock cars at Proctor.

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“I know she would have wanted to continue to be there for college,” Matt Hammitt said of her mother, “but I think she would trust that college is in a good place and in good hands to move forward… there’s a solid foundation over there.”

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College holds first in-person graduation ceremonies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

President Stephanie Hammitt speaks during graduation ceremonies at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College on Thursday, May 12, in Cloquet.

Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Stephanie was first hired at the university in 1990 and served as CFO until 1996. She then spent over a decade managing the finances of the Fond du Lac Band before returning to the university to do the same in 2008. She was CFO of FDLTCC. and then its vice president of finance and administrator until 2018, when she was named interim president.

Communications staff at the university told the News Tribune on Tuesday that they were unable to connect a reporter with someone to interview so soon after Stephanie’s death. However, they submitted a statement that reads in part: “President Hammitt loved this unique and special university. He was especially proud of the students at FDLTCC, along with the support and guidance…provided by staff and faculty.”

Stephanie’s father, Peter Defoe, and her grandfather, Peter DuFault, were instrumental in laying the university’s foundation, according to Robert “Sonny” Peacock, former president of the Fond du Lac Band and current director of the university’s American Indian programs. tribal.

Following the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act of 1975, DuFault, a part of the Ojibwe band government, helped establish the first service contracts between the Ojibwe band and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which had previously administered the education and other programs by itself. Defoe was then part of the multi-governmental task force that he considered and ultimately succeeded in establishing the university.

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“Hearing her father, listening to her grandfather, I mean, she brought all this wealth of information with her that you don’t get in school,” Peacock said Tuesday.

She was also just a nice person, Peacock added.

“You’d think…she wouldn’t have time for people, but she cared about people and she cared about Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. And that manifested itself,” Peacock said. “That manifested itself above and beyond almost anything.”

In addition to her husband Brian and son Matt, Stephanie is survived by her sons Christopher Hammitt and Jonathon Hammitt and her daughter Annika Hammitt, as well as five grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet, with a prayer service scheduled for 7 p.m. Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in cloquet. Burial will follow in the Sagrada Familia cemetery. A reception with lunch will follow at the Fond du Lac Head Start Gymnasium.

Stephanie’s family is organizing a scholarship fund in her honor. Donations are encouraged in lieu of flowers,

according to his obituary.