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President Schneider Addresses Our Work to End Racism

Today we face another crisis in our country because of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the chaos that has followed. McPherson College stands beside our black faculty, staff, and students and all underrepresented people during this challenging time.

McPherson College has been and will always be a place that welcomes diversity – whether it is race, gender, age sexuality, disability, or religion. It is who we are. It is part of our founding identity. Discrimination, racism, bigotry – in any form – is unacceptable. We have an obligation as educators and learners to uphold the fact that the best communities are diverse and inclusive.

The events of the last several days are a stark reminder of the importance of our work to end racism. We are committed to do better as a campus by continuing our work with the Kansas Leadership Center to ensure a more inclusive culture through meaningful dialogue, training, and new initiatives. We will continue to support diversity and inclusion training for all student leaders and any interested student through the Student Government Association. We will continue to participate in the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center’s National Assessment of Collegiate Climates to better understand and act on student perspectives on campus climate and diversity.

I hope each of you will join us to do better – to embrace an inclusive culture that supports all types of diversity, engagement, open communication, and authenticity.

McPherson College Celebrates Class of 2020 in First-Ever Virtual Graduation

202 Virtual Commencement

Although the McPherson College 132nd Commencement Ceremony took place on campus in an empty Brown Auditorium, it will likely be one of the most memorable commencements in the history of the college.

McPherson College conferred degrees on 139 students in the first-ever virtual Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 24. The college announced in April that it would host a virtual ceremony on the scheduled date of commencement. The ceremony was streamed live on the college’s website.

In his address to the graduates, President Michael Schneider, reminded students of the simple advice he learned from his grandmother and has passed along to students each year as freshmen.

“Every year I share a couple of secrets to success at McPherson College, and here they are again. Number one is show up, and number two is ask for help. It seems easy but when you do it over and over again, guess what? You end up right where you are sitting as McPherson College graduates.”

Commencement celebrations kicked off earlier in the day with a President’s Zoom Brunch for seniors and their families. The virtual event featured special faculty guests, class memories, a cap-decorating contest, and the senior address given by Diamond Marshall, 2019-20 SGA president. In her address to the class, Marshall said, “Celebrate your perseverance and each other. Each of you should be proud because when the world came to a close; our community strengthen and continued on.”

Prior to the ceremony, Lillian Oeding and Kento Aizawa, both members of the graduating class, performed an instrumental duet of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The entire ceremony including the pre-ceremony program, and list of graduates are available on the college website at

McPherson College Plans Virtual Commencement

McPherson College will honor the 2020 graduating class with a virtual Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 24, 2020. The college will Livestream the ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. CDT.

In an announcement to students, President Michael Schneider explained the decision to transition the traditional ceremony to a virtual event, “There are already too many hardships on students and families given this situation. Families have the current date saved, so we are proceeding with a virtual commencement to allow everyone an opportunity to participate no matter their location.”

Students will receive their cap and gown in the mail prior to commencement. Members of the Class of 2020 and their families and friends are invited to gather online as faculty members recognize them and the college confers their degrees. The streamed ceremony will feature formal remarks and slides of each of the graduates.

The virtual event is in response to the continued limitations on public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. The college announced to its students on March 17 that the remainder of the spring semester would be completed remotely using online resources because of the outbreak.

In the weeks leading up to Commencement, the college social media will focus on seniors and their activities. Follow all of the McPherson College on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Prospective Students Go Online To Compete For Presidential Scholarships

More than 70 students and their parents joined McPherson College staff online Saturday, April 4 for the first-ever Virtual Presidential Scholarship Competition. Despite the event transitioning to an online format, more students than ever participated.

The Presidential Scholarship is the most prestigious of the McPherson College scholarships and is awarded for those who qualify based on a cognitive ability activity, round table discussion, personal interview, and high school academic record. The virtual event included interviews, a roundtable discussion, and presentations submitted by students. Christi Hopkins, vice president for enrollment management, also hosted parents in a Livestream chat to answer questions.

“Presidential Scholarship Day is one of our favorite visit days. It allows us an opportunity to spend time with students and their families,” Hopkins said. “Although this was a new format for us, we were encouraged by parents and students who said they were grateful we didn’t cancel the event.”

One of the parents commended the college on its smooth transition from the on-campus event to an entirely virtual experience. “Your team did a great job adapting to the current situation,” he said. “I work with Fortune 500 companies and state government organizations and they’ve been struggling to get up to speed with online activities. It almost appears as if your school was prepared in advance due to how seamlessly your school has appeared to move to an online format.”

Although prospective students are not visiting campus in person, campus visits and other recruiting events continue virtually. Updates about the campus regarding the COVID-19 situation can be found at The college is sharing a variety of information and on Facebook @McPhersonCollege, Twitter @Mac_College, and Instagram @McPhersonCollege.

Classes Begin Remotely for MC Students

Grant Barrett

McPherson College student Grant Barrett works on classes from home.

McPherson College students returned to coursework remotely on Monday, March 30 after a two-week expanded spring break. Although students and faculty did not return to campus, they did begin adapting to their new normal.

The college announced to its students on March 17 that the remainder of the spring semester would be completed remotely using online resources because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is not the semester that any of us planned but we are all working together to move forward despite the challenges,” Michael Schneider, McPherson College president, said. “Our students are adapting to a new normal as they transition to online courses. Faculty has exceeded my expectations to recreate how learning will happen this semester.”

In a video shared with campus last week, faculty and staff members encouraged students as they began classes.

“The faculty has been working hard over the past couple of weeks to meet the challenge of remote learning,” Dustin Wilgers, associate professor of biology, said in the video. “With every challenge there is opportunity. I’ve been able to engage my class content in brand new ways and even found new tools for the classroom.”

College administration is collaborating with students, faculty, and staff on ways to support student learning and keep students engaged. Academics and student life offices are connecting with students through the college social media channels encouraging student involvement with a variety of creative ideas that range from virtual office hours to blanket fort challenges.

“Social media is a great way to stay connected,” President Schneider said. “It’s been encouraging for all of us to keep that connection with our students. I’d invite everyone to follow our social media and check out everything our students are doing on our virtual campus.”

You can follow McPherson College on Facebook @McPhersonCollege, Twitter @Mac_College, and on Instagram @mcphersoncollege.

Other aspects of the college have transitioned to online as well. Although prospective students are not visiting campus in person, campus visits and other recruiting events continue virtually. The college recently hosted the first-ever Virtual Presidential Scholarship Competition, one of its largest events for prospective students, with nearly 100 students registered to participate.

“This is definitely an unprecedented time but what is certain is how positive, diligent, and caring the staff and faculty have handled it,” Nick Navarro, an automotive restoration student, said. “As a senior, I am disappointed that I won’t finish college the way I had hoped. It’s important to see the bigger picture and looking back over the past four years, I can see how far I have come.” Updates about the campus regarding the COVID-19 outbreak can be found at, and the college is sharing information and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Student Car Show Canceled

The annual student-run car show at McPherson College scheduled for May 1-2 has been canceled. Representatives from the C.A.R.S. Club, the student organization that coordinates the event, recently made the announcement.

McPherson College announced on March 17 that it would complete the remainder of the spring semester courses remotely following recommendations by national and state health organizations due to the coronavirus situation.

“It is very disappointing to us. As you might imagine, it is impossible hosting a student-run event of this magnitude without a full assembly of students on campus,” Chris Paulsen, faculty advisor of the C.A.R.S. Club, said. “Students started working on the event the day after last year’s car show. It’s something they look forward to each year and are heartbroken about it.”

The event includes a Cruise-in and Evening with AR dinner on Friday night; both events are also canceled. Entries of those who pre-registered a car for the show will be retained and pre-registered for next year’s event.

“We want to thank everyone who supports this event each year,” Nick Navarro, student chairperson of C.A.R.S. Club, said. “We look forward to seeing them on May 1, 2021, for next year’s car show.”

The student-run car show attracts rare vehicles from across the country each year. Last year more than 400 cars entered the show, and Donald Osborne, an appraisal expert featured on Jay Leno’s Garage, was a special guest.

Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance Awards First Ever Scholarship Recognizing Roger Penske

scholarship recipient Kevin Boeckman

Roger Penske with scholarship recipient Kevin Boeckman.

A scholarship recognizing the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Silver Anniversary Honoree, Roger Penske, was presented for the first time ever Saturday, March 7 at the Mercedes-Benz Gala dinner to a McPherson College Automotive Restoration student.

Kevin Boeckman, a junior in the program, was selected for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Roger Penske Scholarship. Amelia Island Concours created the scholarship to recognize its 2020 honoree and to support outstanding students in the field of automotive restoration.

This award recognizes Penske, who won his first national championship in 1961. Sports Illustrated named him “Driver of the Year,” and he went on to record 51 victories in 130 races during his career as a driver. After retiring from the cockpit, Penske left his mark on the motorsports world with his racing organization, Roger Penske Racing, later known as Team Penske.

Boeckman, who is from Wamego, Kansas, first became interested in cars as a child attending his community’s car show. After purchasing his first car, a 1968 Firebird convertible, he realized he wanted to make a career in the collector car industry.

“When it came time to decide what to do after high school, I knew I wanted to focus on learning to work on old cars,” Boeckman said. “I thought it was a miracle that there was a program like the one at McPherson College.”

McPherson College students have actively engaged in the Amelia Island Concours for the past ten years. Students serve as apprentice judges, attend auction events and seminars, and get the opportunity to network with industry leaders.

“We are honored that the Amelia Island Concours recognizes the importance of educating the next generation of automotive restoration craftsmen with its support of our students,” Amanda Gutierrez, vice president of automotive restoration at McPherson College, said. “The concours is a long-time supporter of our program and this scholarship demonstrates their commitment to engaging young people in the collector car industry.”

Gallery Exhibit at McPherson College Celebrates Women

A gallery exhibit at McPherson College titled, “Who Does She Think She Is?” brings together women artists, poets, and writers from across Kansas to celebrate women and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.

The exhibition features works from both young and old, traditional and contemporary. The works cover a wide range of media including, drawing, painting, graphic design, sculpture, assemblage, textiles, jewelry, photography, ceramics, and more. Poems and writings by women writers from the college also accompany the artwork.

“I was inspired by this year’s celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage and by the under-representation of women in the arts,” Gallery Director Michaela Valli Groeblacher said. “The genesis of this show is rather organic and spontaneous. I invited women from all over Kansas to exhibit their art, poetry, and prose, focusing on works that many might not have seen before.”

Women artists have been marginalized for centuries, according to Groeblacher. The exhibition cites information from the National Museum of Women in the Arts that says until the 1970s it was nearly impossible to find information about women artists referenced in art history books. Women artists still face obstacles and disparities today and are persistently underrepresented in museum collections and exhibitions.

The exhibition is open now through April 18 in Friendship Hall on the college campus. It is open to the public during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. An artists’ reception will be held on April 18 from 5-7 p.m.

Artists in the exhibition include:

Becky Hyberger – Bennington
Debbie Wagner – Bennington
Roberta Eichenberg – Emporia
Linda Ganstrom – Hays
Julie Unruh – Lin
Lee Becker – Lindsborg
Maleta Forsberg – Lindsborg
Tara Killingsworth – Lindsborg
Phyllis Liljegren-Newson – Lindsborg
Michaela Valli Groeblacher – Lindsborg
Briana Zimmerling – Lindsborg
Geraldine Craig – Manhattan
Dee Erway-Sherwood – McPherson
Jen Pollard – McPherson
Angela Muller – Russell
Ruth Amortize – Salina
Connie Burket – Salina
Karla Prickett – Salina
Sandy Wedel – Salina
Carol Long – St. John
Barbara Waterman-Peters – Topeka
Kelsey Gosset Dennis – Wichita
Marilyn Grisham – Wichita

McPherson College Names New Director of Athletics

Chandler ShortPresident Michael Schneider is pleased to announce Chandler Short as the new director of athletics at McPherson College. Short, who is currently serving as interim director of athletics, will be the first woman to serve as the full-time athletic director in the history of McPherson College.

“Chandler has been key to recent successes in our athletic department,” President Schneider said. “She will serve our coaches and students well as the department focuses on consistently competing to win the KCAC Commissioner’s Cup, while embracing core values related to our mission of developing whole persons.”

Short began her career at McPherson College in 2017 and was quickly promoted to assistant director of athletics and senior woman administrator in 2018. In addition to a number of administrative activities, Short also supervised all game day operations for Bulldog teams and led many external relations activities including the creation of the Bulldog Athletic Banquet fundraiser. She has been part of an athletic department at McPherson College that has experienced all-time highs in enrollment, fundraising and academic success. In addition, she played a vital role in the creation of the athletic department’s first strategic plan. She replaces Andrew Ehling who resigned in December to accept the position of athletic director at New Mexico Highlands University.

“I would like to thank President Schneider for the continued opportunity to lead McPherson College Athletics,” Short said. “These are exciting times to be working with the talented athletic department staff, coaches, and student-athletes. McPherson is a special place where I started my college career and I am excited to serve the student-athletes and staff of McPherson College Athletics and support this campus community.”

She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Health from McPherson College in 2015 and a Master’s Degree in Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration from the University of Oklahoma in 2017. Short served as a graduate assistant in the OU Athletic Department Student-Athlete Support Services & Student-Athlete Development Office. She spent time working with the sports psychologist and psychological resources for the student athletes office at OU, and served on the Intercollegiate Athletic Administration Student Association Executive Board as alumni relations coordinator. She was also part of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament staff in Oklahoma City.

As a student-athlete at McPherson College, she was a member of the women’s basketball team from 2012-2014 and the tennis team that won back-to-back KCAC championships in 2014 and 2015.

Graduating With Zero Student Debt Impacts Your Track For Life

Student Debt Project - Curtis Bros

By Michael Schneider, President
McPherson College

Jake Curtis and his twin brother, Jared, had big dreams of college—coupled with fears those dreams could be crippled by years of student debt. For the Curtis family, the financial burden of having four kids in college within a five-year span could have derailed the twins’ plans—until they came to McPherson College to participate in the Student Debt Project. As sophomores this year, Jake and Jared are balancing hectic class and co-curricular schedules with part-time work. They haven’t taken out any student loans—and don’t plan to—because each expects to graduate with zero student debt.

College-ready families I talk with have serious angst about student loan debt. They’re worried about paying for college, and worried they—or their kids—will still be paying off that debt years after the diploma is earned. That’s why we’ve made debt reduction an overarching mission for McPherson College. We’ve found a way to make college affordable by combining financial literacy education, jobs, mentorships and matching dollars to create a track for students to graduate with little or no debt.

The need couldn’t be more urgent. Nationwide, student loan debt is at an all-time high of nearly $1.6 trillion—second only to mortgage debt. Some 371,000 Kansans collectively owe more than $11.5 billion in federal student loans. In fact, among all Kansas graduates in the class of 2018, nearly 60 percent of them graduated with debt.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Debt-Free Independence
With job placement assistance provided by the college, those in our Student Debt Project are working part-time jobs and paying down their debt before they graduate. McPherson College matches a percentage of every dollar students contribute to their education.

Dedicated community mentors support our students as they balance work, education and life during their college years. Every student manages a custom budget and works through paying for their education while they are in school by honing their financial management skills. The Student Debt Project is instilling a sense of financial independence that will impact a student for life.

Freshman Zaya Carson of Des Moines hopes to become a doctor and genetic research scientist. She knows it means years of education ahead of her—and could mean staggering student debt. Zaya applied to much larger schools before deciding on McPherson College. She recognized the monthly mentoring provided personalized support she wouldn’t receive at a larger school. For Zaya, the program has been far more than a debt-free way to earn her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. It’s also been a significant confidence builder as she prepares to start her career in a very competitive job market.

The Future Track
There’s a myth that students who attend private colleges accrue more debt than their public university peers. But it’s not true nationally, and especially not true here in Kansas. In fact, McPherson College students graduate with no more debt than students from Kansas’ public universities. And that average debt is less than the price of a Honda Accord.

Further, over 80 percent of McPherson College students finish their degree in four years, compared to only 66 percent of Kansas’ public university students. That means our graduates are already out in the workforce earning a living, while their friends at public universities are still working on their degrees.

Kylee Martin of Goodland was one of the first to participate in the Student Debt Project. She had looked at larger schools and had qualified for more than $40,000 in student loans. Though tempted to take the money, she didn’t want to be saddled with that debt. She had her sights set on owning a home and one day starting her own business.

Kylee put herself on the debt-free track to achieve her goals. In May, she’ll complete her bachelor’s degree—and graduate with significantly less student debt than she expected. And by applying the principles she learned and practiced while in the Student Debt Project, Kylee is on track to achieving her future goals.

Without the burden of student debt, I can’t wait to see what Kylee – and the rest of our Student Debt Project graduates – will accomplish next.

As the president of a small college that competes with state-run and for-profit schools, I’m often asked the question: Should small colleges exist? My answer is, absolutely! The Student Debt Project is just one of the many reasons why.

McPherson College developed the Student Debt Project because it’s good for families, good for Kansas, and good for the nation’s economy. If colleges really want to prepare students to achieve their best lives after graduation, they should start by putting students on the right track for future financial independence.

For McPherson College, that starts by helping students graduate with little – to zero – student debt.