By Lucy Bowman
Seven years ago, McPherson College President Michael Schneider set a goal to reach a $1 billion endowment. On Friday, Nov. 4, he made a historic announcement: McPherson College has secured a $500 million estate commitment to its endowment. Those attending the press conference at the Kansas Leadership Center where the announcement was made were awestruck. As Senior Victoria Bruno said: “The enthusiasm of the news ricocheted throughout the room. It was truly an honor to witness and support the announcement of the irrevocable donation that will continue to support students as they discover and pursue their passions.”
The donor asked to maintain their privacy and remain anonymous. They wanted the attention to be on the students of McPherson College and the good work that the college was doing, not their identity. This donation operates as a double match gift—for every dollar raised McPherson College receives two dollars from the estate commitment. If the college succeeds in raising $250 million by the June 2023 deadline, the final matched number could amount to $750 million. This is the largest single commitment to a small liberal arts college in U.S. history. The announcement made national news, appearing in The Washington Post, Forbes, and AP News.
McPherson College is no stranger to large donations. In May 2022, Melanie and Richard Lundquist announced a $25 million gift to McPherson College. The Lundquists attended the Nov. 4 press conference, and Melanie Lundquist received warm laughter and applause when she said: “I thought back in May when my husband and I made a $25 million commitment to McPherson, that it was a big day. After all, at the time it was the single largest contribution in McPherson College’s history. Well, just a few months later, that’s been totally eclipsed, and we’re actually all the better for it.”
The Lundquists are giving pledge signatories, having promised to dedicate their wealth to charitable causes. Inspired by the 500 million matching donation, Melanie Lundquist announced a second gift to McPherson College. “We want to underscore the importance of this matching grant. We want to strengthen our commitment to McPherson College. And, President Schneider, count us in for another $25 million!” said the Lundquists. This donation, combined with many others from generous donors brings the college up to $130 million raised towards the match, leaving $120 million to be earned before the June deadline.
This match is revolutionary for the future of McPherson College. As President Schneider explained, “It will enable us over time to execute our community by design strategic plan like no one ever imagined.” This includes the expansion of the Auto Restoration department to consider a National Center for the Future of Engineering, Design & Mobility, the advancement of campus and academic programs, and the growth of the Student Debt Project. Additionally, it will allow the East McPherson Campus master planning process to become a reality.
Image from McPherson College’s Facebook page.