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Acclaimed Vocalist Performs at McPherson College

Vanessa Thomas

Vanessa Thomas. Photo by JIM BARCUS.

Acclaimed vocalist Vanessa Thomas, known for her seamless span of five octaves, will perform at McPherson College as part of the Fern Lingenfelter Artists Series on November 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Mingenback Theatre. Admission is free.

For over a decade, Thomas toured nationally with Grammy-award winning trumpet-virtuoso Doc Severinsen. She is uniquely versatile with command across several musical genres, including classical, jazz, blues, gospel, and musical theater. Recent performances include Robert Ray’s “Gospel Mass” as the soprano, alto, and tenor soloist at Carnegie Hall and headliner for Lyric Opera and the Lied Center of Kansas in a series of outdoor concerts.

She has performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the Arizona Musicfest; with the Cincinnati Pops, the Florida Orchestra, and part of the Kansas City Symphony’s Christmasfest; and as a soloist with symphony orchestras in Minnesota, Detroit, Dayton, West Virginia, and Utah. Thomas appeared in the PBS American Masters documentary “Never Too Late.” Currently she is producing an album for distribution.

While at McPherson College, Thomas will also be teaching a masterclass on November 7.

Admission to the Lingenfelter concert is free thanks to a generous commitment to McPherson College honoring Fern Lingenfelter. Her son, Steve Clark, chairman of Clark Investment Group of Wichita, established the fund that supports two annual music performance events with special emphasis on piano. Lingenfelter, an alumna of McPherson College, taught piano in McPherson for many years to both college students on campus and younger students at her studio downtown.

Campus Tour Features New Building Projects

Coming Soon Tour

The McPherson community will have an opportunity to learn more about the historic campus updates at McPherson College during its Homecoming activities on Saturday, October 15. The college is hosting a self-guided walking tour open to all guests on campus from 10 – 11:30 a.m.

McPherson College recently announced plans to reimagine its campus for the future—funded in part by a successful $55 million capital campaign that will supercharge the largest-ever investment in new buildings in its 135-year history.

The tour will feature five locations, including sites of the Campus Commons, the Boiler House, and the Holman Center for Athletics. College leadership will be located at each stop sharing information and answering questions. Guests can obtain a tour card at the Homecoming registration table in front of Miller Library and begin the tour anytime between 10 and 11:30 a.m. Golf carts will be available for those needing assistance.

The Campus Commons, a 55,000-square-foot landmark structure, is the cornerstone of the updates. The multi-level building will make a more robust community possible with new campus dining, student services, and activity spaces.

The Boiler House is a new hangout for the next generation of McPherson College students. It features an indoor-outdoor space with flex seating, yard games, fire pits, and a large outdoor screen and stage area. It will provide the perfect place to socialize and collaborate.

The expansion of the current Sport Center will give McPherson College teams a modernized facility as they compete in the fast-changing dynamic of college athletics.

“This is a momentous time for McPherson College, and we are excited to share our plans with our community,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “We are changing the face of campus, putting our students’ needs first and preparing them for the future, while making a positive impact on the local economy. The investment we are making on campus updates will flow through the community in areas including retail, service, and lodging, and will ultimately lead to increased enrollment bringing more students and families to McPherson.”

In addition to the new structures, nearly half of the $55 million in new funding will directly support educational initiatives on campus that benefit McPherson-area students attending the college, such as the Student Debt Project, student scholarships, the Kansas Center for Rural & Community Health Science, Automotive Restoration, and other academic programs and growth areas.

More details and images of the campus updates are online, If you have questions about the campus tour, please contact the McPherson College Advancement Office, (620) 242-0435

McPherson College Theatre Presents “Laramie Projects”

MC Theatre Season Poster 21-22Students from programs across the McPherson College curriculum will work together to present the next campus theatre production, “The Laramie Project(s)” on April 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. in Mingenback Theater at McPherson College.

“The Laramie Project(s)”, by Moises Kauffman and the Tectonic Theater Project is two plays offered together –  “The Laramie Project” and “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.” The McPherson College theatre department first staged the “Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,” during the 2009-2010 theatre season as a world premiere in partnership with the Tectonic Theater Company.

“I cannot wait to revisit ‘The Laramie Project’ and ‘The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,’” Jd. Bowman, professor of theatre, said. “It is such an interesting study of how we see others and how we see ourselves, especially in a town like Laramie, Wyoming.”

On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten, tied to a fence, and left for dead outside of Laramie, WY. Shepard’s killers said they did it because he was gay and he hit on them. The case kicked off a national conversation, which resulted in the creation of hate crime legislation in America. Within weeks of Shepard’s attack, a group of actors from New York City flew to Laramie and set out to interview many members of the town to understand how this could happen. They returned 10 years later to continue their interviews. The resulting play is a documentary of those interviews.

Multiple classes worked to bring this production to the McPherson College stage including Tech Theatre 1 class, taught by Jen Pollard, assistant professor of theatre; Acting, taught by Bowman; and Understanding Popular Culture, taught by Julia Largent, assistant professor of communication.

A meal for season ticket holders will be offered prior to the Thursday night performance. For more information or reservations, visit

McPherson College Car Show Expects Unique Field of Classic Cars

Priceless, one-of-a-kind classic automobiles will be on display during the 22nd Annual C.A.R.S. Club Motoring Festival at McPherson College on Saturday, May 7, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A few of the cars expected on the field this year include the 1938 Buick Y-Job concept car, the 1961 Mako Shark Corvette concept, and the 1970 Pontiac Pegasus concept all from the General Motors collection.

Each year, the student-run car show attracts rare vehicles from across the country and expects 350 to 400 vehicles to be on display throughout the campus grounds this year. Other special cars expected at this year’s event include a 1941 Chevrolet Fleetline from Rad Rides by Troy, a 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe, Aston-Martin DB2, and a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster.

“The car show is the ultimate celebration of automotive work where future automotive restorers and current masters within the industry meet,” Wyatt Miceli, a senior and student leader of this year’s car show, said. “The show is entirely student-operated and welcomes all marques across a variety of price ranges. Every year, both students and professionals show off their skills and get to enjoy a great day surrounded by friends, family, and community.”

The weekend will also celebrate the dedication of The Paul Russell & Company Center for Automotive Research in Miller Library on the college campus. The dedication will take place on Friday and the space will be open to tour on Saturday.

Along with a wide variety of classic automobiles, the event will also feature entertainment provided by the McPherson College Steel Drum Band and Jazz Band as well as the McPherson High School Jazz Band. The Model-T Build Team will demonstrate at 2 p.m., just prior to the awards ceremony. Building tours of Templeton Hall, home of the McPherson College Automotive Restoration Program, will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no charge for spectators. Food trucks will also be available on campus to purchase food and beverages.

Car enthusiasts are encouraged to participate in a Cruise-in on Friday, May 6 on Main Street in McPherson beginning at 6 p.m. There is no registration or entry fee required for this event, which serves as a sneak peek at what will be on the show field and an opportunity for any car or motorcycle owner to display their rides in an informal show.

Pre-registration for Saturday’s event is available online at a discounted rate until April 22. Registration can also be made on the day of the show. Details are at

Institute “Alum” Challenges Others To Give On Power Day

Jeff Slagle

Jeff Slagle is offering a $10,000 matching gift towards auto restoration on Power Day 2022.

Jeff Slagle is not a McPherson College alumnus but has completed as many classroom hours as some graduates and this year is joining the alumni who support the college’s annual Power Day with a matching gift.

Slagle, who lives in Huntsville, AL, is a regular participant of the Summer Institute offered through the automotive restoration program at McPherson College. Each year in June, the college offers a variety of weeklong classes for hobbyists and professionals taught by the school’s auto restoration faculty. Slagle has been coming to the institute for the past seven years.

“I haven’t taken every class yet, but I have taken some twice,” Slagle said. “I believe in education and wanted to learn from somebody who knows what they are doing rather than watching YouTube videos and possibly learning bad habits.”

“Car Camp,” as he calls it, started for Slagle when he searched the internet for “car schools” and “restoration” in hopes of finding some help on a car project. He found McPherson College and stumbled onto the Summer Institute registration. Slagle says he’s gained knowledge and confidence over the years coming to the summer classes. He is an ASE certified Master Technician and helps other car owners in his local car club work on their classics.

“Just because you are taking a class on engines doesn’t mean that’s all you are learning about,” he said. “It’s interesting, and I keep coming back because that’s where I get to see a lot of my friends. All of the people I have met there over the years are my friends and we all have a common interest. It’s my summer vacation.”

Slagle has been showing his appreciation of the program for several years by making gifts to Power Day, the yearly online day of giving; however, this year he decided to support the college with a $10,000 matching gift for the automotive restoration program.

“I’ve given in the past, mostly to get the free t-shirt,” Slagle jokes. “I was asked if I would consider a matching gift and I thought this was a good way to show my appreciation of the program and maybe encourage others to do the same.”

Power Day is set for March 10 and will include live videos and updates all day on all of the college social media channels. Last year’s Power Day raised nearly $200,000. Other matching opportunities this year include a $50,000 matching gift for the MC Fund or any academic program from the Paul Family as well as $25,000 of matching gifts for athletics, from young alumni, and for the choir trip to Carnegie Hall from the VanGoethem family.

More information about Power Day is on the McPherson College website,

McPherson College Theatre Presents “Gaslight”

The McPherson College theatre department will present the haunting classic “Gaslight” on March 4-5 at 7:30 p.m. in Brown Auditorium.

Eighty-five years ago, this classic stage production made an impact on London theatergoers and is where the modern term “gaslighting” originated. Themes center on perspective and how it can be contorted to make one question the world around them. Welcome to the Manningham home in 19th century London. Jack, a young charismatic man helps to care for his wife, Bella, but a visitor from Scotland Yard arrives with questions. As questions become more intense, a shadow of doubt grows between Bella and her husband.

“Last year my students studied this text and it was neat to see their genuine excitement for this classic play,” Jen Pollard, theatre professor, said. “Many students did not realize the modern term gaslighting comes from this text.”

McPherson College presented this production during the 1988-89 theatre season.

A full British tea will be served for season ticket holders on Saturday, March 5 beginning at 6:20 p.m. For more information or reservations, visit Masks are required for theatre audience members.

Cast members include Hannah Simmons as Bella; Eli Jordan as Jack; Jailynn Hammel as Elizabeth; Bailey Hulce as Nancy; Kenzie Jansonius as Detective Rough; with additional support from Bryce Martin, Evan McGoldrick, and Valick Sorter.

Crew members include Sarah Asher, stage manager; Jean McKenney-Chance, lights; Danny Salinas IV, set; Lindy Reynolds, props; Toby Leffew, sound; Bailey Hulce and Ellery McMurray, costumes; Kenzie Jansonius, hair and makeup; Jen Pollard, set and costume design, technical director; Jd. Bowman, director.


MC Theatre Offers Unique Experience With “White Rabbit/Red Rabbit”

McPherson College Theatre Department will produce a one-night-only theatre experience, “White Rabbit/Red Rabbit,” by Nassim Soleimanpour featuring Jd. Bowman, professor of theatre at the college, on Friday, January 28 in Mingenback Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

Experience theatre that the New York Times described as “playful, enigmatic and haunting.” This one-of-a-kind performance literally asks the actor to sign away the right to see the script ahead of time, seeing it for the first time when it is read on opening night in front of a live audience, according to Bowman.

Unable to leave Iran, playwright Soleimanpour ‘tours’ the world through the text of his unique theatre experience that requires no director and no rehearsal. An actor receives a script in a sealed envelope for the first time on stage on opening night. What follows is a unique journey for the actor and the audience that is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“When I mentioned to my colleague that I’d like to perform again, I didn’t really mean I’d be ready to perform a one-man show where I can’t read the script ahead of time,” Bowman said. “But that’s what fits our season the best, so here we are! And yes, this makes me freak out a little, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

The production will be a Kansas premiere.

The theatre is currently offering individual performance and season ticket options by emailing or calling 620-242-0444. For more information on the shows, dates, or to purchase tickets online, visit Masks are required and seating is limited.

American Brass Quintet Comes to McPherson College

American Brass Quintet in ConcertOne of the country’s premier chamber music ensembles, the American Brass Quintet, will perform at McPherson College as part of the Fern Lingenfelter Artists Series on February 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Brown Auditorium. Admission is free.

Hailed by Newsweek as “the high priests of brass,” the American Brass Quintet is internationally recognized as one of the era’s premier chamber music ensembles. “The most distinguished” of brass quintets (American Record Guide), the group has earned its stellar reputation through its celebrated performances, genre-defining commissioned works, and ongoing commitment to the education of generations of musicians. Committed to the development of brass chamber music through higher education, the American Brass Quintet has served as Ensemble-in-Residence at The Juilliard School since 1987 and at the Aspen Music Festival since 1970.

Since its founding in 1960, the American Brass Quintet has performed on five continents, made nearly 60 recordings, and premiered more than 150 contemporary works for brass.

Admission to the Lingenfelter concert is free thanks to a generous commitment to McPherson College honoring Fern Lingenfelter. Her son, Steve Clark, chairman of Clark Investment Group of Wichita, established the fund that supports two annual music performance events with special emphasis on piano. Lingenfelter, an alumna of McPherson College, taught piano in McPherson for many years to both college students on campus and younger students at her studio downtown.

The American Brass Quintet will also be teaching a master class on February 7 at 1 p.m. in Brown Auditorium. Students from McPherson College and all area high school band students are encouraged to participate. The class is free.

McPherson College continues to require masks for all indoor campus events.

McPherson College Exhibits Artwork of Michael Jilg

Artist Michael JilgThe artwork of Kansas painter and printmaker, Michael Jilg, is currently on display in the McPherson College gallery at Friendship Hall.

The exhibition also features jewelry by Joyce Jilg. The exhibition will be on display through February in Friendship Hall and is open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gallery visitors are required to comply with the MC health and safety protocols that require wearing a facemask on campus.

Artist Joyce Jilg “Michael Jilg is one of the most distinguished painters and printmakers in Kansas,” Michaela Valli Groeblacher, gallery director, said. “We are thrilled to have his art on display. Joyce Jilg uses recycled items to make beautiful jewelry and is a perfect complement to her husband’s work.”

Michael Jilg has degrees from Fort Hays State and Wichita State University and spent 30 years as an art professor at Fort Hays State University. A past Governor’s Visual Artist, he has shown his work in more than 200 exhibitions and is represented in museum collections in the United States, England, and Asia.

Jazz Festival Features Area Ensembles

Jazz Fest

Dr. Craig Treinen (left) and Randy Crow give a clinic on jazz improvisation.

The sounds of jazz could be heard across the McPherson College campus as more than 350 musicians participated in the eighth annual Jazz Festival on November 4.

This year ensembles from 18 area middle and high schools performed and participated in on-stage clinics with professional jazz educators. The clinicians also led sessions covering jazz improvisation and rhythm section issues. This year’s clinicians were Dr. Craig Treinen and Dr. Tom Morgan from Washburn University; Gregg Walker, retired jazz educator and adjunct of woodwinds at McPherson College; and Randy Crow, a hall-of-fame retired music educator from Wichita.

Schools participating in the event included: Abilene, Dodge City, Goddard, Hesston, Junction City, McPherson, Newton, Nickerson, Osage City, Riley County, Salina Central, Smoky Valley, Sterling, Wichita North, and Winfield high schools; McPherson and Smoky Valley middle schools; and McPherson College.

Director of Bands and associate professor of music at McPherson College, Kyle Hopkins, said the idea for the annual jazz festival came from area band directors asking for quality jazz education opportunities. The festival is held each year in the fall, typically a time when marching band overshadows other aspects of a band program, and has grown in size each year.

“Jazz is the quintessential American art form,” Hopkins said. “In studying jazz, you can’t separate the music from the history of jazz, which is American history. What a great thing to teach our kids!”

Awards were given for outstanding individual musicianship and each group was rated and critiqued on its performance by the clinicians.