MCPHERSON, Kan. (KSNW) — The commencement speaker at McPherson College on Sunday gave more than a memorable speech. She also delivered an amazing gift.
California philanthropists and Giving Pledge Signatories Melanie and Richard Lundquist announced they are giving $25 million to the college for the Building Community Campaign.
The donation is the largest gift in the college’s 135-year history. The previous largest gift to the college was $10 million.
The Lundquist’s gift completes the campaign early, having raised $53 million in under three years. It is the largest gift ever to a small, private liberal arts college in Kansas and among one of the largest to any college in Kansas.
“McPherson College is a special place that embraces the love of humanity,” Melanie Lundquist said. “After a decade of knowing McPherson College, your president, and your provost, we know our $25 million is the right big bet.”
The Lundquists’ relationship with McPherson College began in 2012 when Melanie donated tool sets to the school’s Automotive Restoration program in honor of Richard’s birthday. Since then, the Lundquists have become regular supporters of the college.
Earlier this month, Richard donated his prized Enzo Ferrari 1972 365GTB/4 Daytona, marking the first Ferrari in the automotive restoration program’s 45-year history.
In her commencement speech, she encouraged students to persevere and embrace the nuances in life.
“At McPherson College, you learned how to think outside the building, not just the box – keep at it,” said Lundquist. “At times, it will not be easy. Please, persevere. If someone tells you it cannot be done, you tell them to go sit in the corner and watch you do it.”
In November 2020, McPherson College conferred honorary doctorates on Melanie and Richard to recognize the couple’s work in driving systemic change in K-12 public education, health care delivery, innovation, and the environment.
Due to the pandemic, the hooding ceremony for the Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) degrees was delayed until this year’s commencement exercises.
“We are deeply grateful to Richard and Melanie for their incredible generosity to McPherson College. This gift will help put our Community by Design strategic plan on a new trajectory ensuring the new campus commons is built and strengthening the college’s academic programs as well as support the student debt project, which enables students to graduate debt-free,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “The impact of the Lundquists’ gift and friendship is truly immeasurable.”
“We are transitioning beyond our support of K-12 public education and are hoping this gift spurs more support of well-run small liberal arts colleges in the U.S.,” said Richard Lundquist, who will be joining the College’s Board of Trustees. “We hope this gift will cause everyone to pay greater attention to the value of small liberal arts colleges. I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping implement their ‘Community by Design’ campus expansion plans.”