Small Kansas Liberal Arts College Receives $1 Billion Donation From Anonymous Donor

McPherson College received the third-largest college donation in history after completing its double-match endowment challenge, where an anonymous donor promised to donate $2 for every dollar raised up to $500 million.
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Published on July 28, 2023
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  • The endowment will go to a rural healthcare center and rural health initiatives, new science facilities, and a student debt relief program.
  • McPherson has over 800 students and 40 programs of study.
  • McPherson announced the double-match challenge in November, and it successfully completed the challenge June 30.

McPherson College, a small liberal arts college in McPherson, Kansas, just received the third-largest donation in U.S. history.

McPherson College announced July 21 it had more than met the endowment double-match challenge set by an anonymous donor who initially gave $500 million to the school in November 2022 — and that the donor gave a surprise gift of another $500 million.

The anonymous donor had promised to match $2 for every dollar McPherson raised, up to $500 million, if McPherson could finish the challenge by June 30, 2023.

Today is historic, not just for McPherson College, but for all small liberal arts colleges in America, McPherson President Michael Schneider said in the announcement. I am incredibly grateful to our anonymous donor for giving us an unprecedented opportunity — and responsibility — to build and implement our strategic vision of becoming a destination learning community.

McPherson will receive the $1 billion donation over time or in full upon the donor's death. The total funding from the donor and the college's efforts is $1,592,000,000. According to McPherson, it is the largest endowment of any small liberal arts college in the U.S.

The college has 40 programs of study and over 800 students. It is best known for its automotive restoration technology program endorsed by car collectors, including comedian Jay Leno, who sponsors two scholarships at the college.

Before the challenge, McPherson's existing endowment and estate commitments were $250 million. The endowment grew more than six times the original amount in a little over a year.

The college announced the endowment will be named after late professors and alums John Ward and John Burkholder. It will be used for rural health initiatives, including the Kansas Center for Rural & Community Health; new science and engineering facilities; the college's Student Debt Project; and East McPherson campus expansion.

The Student Debt Project matches 25 cents for every dollar students make in part-time jobs with partnered businesses.

Now, the work begins to build a bridge to our future endowment, Schneider said. We need to carefully plan how the income from the endowment is deployed to reimagine and construct the campus of the future, build a much-needed rural health pipeline in Kansas, create a center for the future of automotive engineering and work to make college more affordable for all our students.

“There has never been a better day to be a part of the McPherson College community!