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McPherson College Celebrates Class Of 2023 In Commencement Ceremony

2023 MC Graduate Group Photo

McPherson College conferred Master of Education, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees to 171 students at the 135th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 20, 2023, at McPherson Stadium.

Rod Gieselman, professor of business at McPherson College, was the commencement speaker. Professor Gieselman has taught in the MC business department for 20 years. Students in his investments course manage a portion of the college’s endowment that consistently out-earns market averages and has grown from an initial $200,000 to $550,000. In his address, he encouraged the Class of 2023 to continue developing.

“Every day going forward, you will continue to develop who you are, your perspectives, beliefs, empathy, and character,” he said. “The process of becoming a whole person is a lifelong process. Hopefully, McPherson College has pushed you to continue developing in a positive direction.”

Olivia Smith, the senior class representative, and Professor Vicki Schmidt, associate professor of education, also addressed the class.

The commencement ceremony concluded with Dr. Michael Schneider, president of McPherson College, who thanked for the students for making it a great day to be a Bulldog.

“As you scatter out into the world, remember your degree is a milestone but just the beginning of the expectations you have now as a graduate of McPherson College,” he said. “This campus will change over the next several years but don’t forget to come home.”

Names of the graduating class of 2023 and the commencement video can be found at:

Students Will Experience New, Best-In-Class Dining And Facilities Program Beginning Fall 2023

McPherson College has entered a partnership with Sodexo, a global food services leader, to bring a best-in-class dining program to campus beginning in the fall of 2023.

“Excellence in dining services is fundamental to the student experience,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “The transition to Sodexo is in response to student feedback. Sodexo’s professionalism, commitment to quality, and excellence in customer service will be a game-changer for our students and community.”

As a part of this partnership, Sodexo will adapt the dining program to best serve student needs by integrating technology within all on-campus services, including Sodexo’s mobile app Everyday and catering ordering via Catertrax, as well as sophisticated internal systems. In support of McPherson’s commitment to student success, Sodexo will support annual scholarships, events, and athletics.

“Sodexo is excited and proud to enter into a long-term partnership with McPherson College. We believe this is a mutually beneficial relationship where our institutional values, mission, and vision align in a way that will lead to an enriching college experience for the McPherson student body,” said Sodexo Senior Vice President Dannie Crozier. “Sodexo looks forward to working with our partners at McPherson and bringing an elevated dining program and quality experiences to the community.”

The change in food service comes as part of a larger initiative to address campus residential life. In addition to facility upgrades at the Sport Center and a new campus gathering point called the Boiler House, residence halls will undergo phase one of renovations over the summer. Renovations include new floors, paint, lighting, furniture, and other upgrades.

Small Kansas College Will Show Car at Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance

McPherson College MB300S Pebble Beach Team

McPherson College’s classic 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S is the college’s first car fully restored by its students to be accepted in the nation’s most prestigious car event.

A vision, 10 years in the making, has come true for students, alumni, and employees of the McPherson College Automotive Restoration program — the only four-year bachelor’s degree program for automotive restoration in the nation. The 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Cabriolet, entirely restored by students, has been accepted by the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and will be shown there on August 20.

“Congratulations to the McPherson College students for having their car accepted to Pebble Beach,” said comedian and car enthusiast Jay Leno. Leno’s support 20 years ago was the turning point for the program when it pivoted from an associate’s to a bachelor’s degree. “I am proud to be associated with the college. Much like art historians who clean and repair the works of the renaissance era, the young men and women at McPherson College are doing it with automobiles, recreating abilities and techniques long forgotten, and they’ll make a good living doing it. Our hobby and heritage are safe in their hands.”

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the oldest Concours in the United States and one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of rare and antique automobiles. Prized collector cars compete each year for Best of Show, the most coveted award in the automotive industry. The Concours Selection Committee spends weeks vetting each entry, narrowing its selection down to the top classic cars in the world, which are invited to show.

McPherson College MB300S rotisserie restoration
Early work on the Mercedes-Benz 300 S restoration.

“We set a bold vision 10 years ago to show a car at Pebble Beach, and I was confident our students and staff could attain it,” said Amanda Gutierrez, provost and vice president of automotive restoration. “The goal was to get invited to compete at Pebble Beach, but there is a significant process that makes that happen, especially at a small college with students working outside of class hours. This project has been a valuable learning experience for our students as they study toward their bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration. It was intense work requiring exceptional commitment, and I am extremely proud of them.”

After an exhaustive search for the right car, work on the project began and has incorporated classroom curricula, expert guest lectures, and senior capstone experiences. The restoration was completed by teams of student interns who worked over the course of the restoration. Brian Martin, director of automotive restoration projects, supervises the student team.

“When we set out to do this, we knew it was going to be a long-term commitment,” Martin said. “It is a complete, frame-off, top-to-bottom restoration by students. We planned for it to become the cornerstone of our program and an example of the skills our students develop while they are here.”

McPherson College has a long history of student participation at Pebble Beach, dating back to 2008 when the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Pebble Beach Company Foundation established scholarships honoring Formula One World Champion and famed restorer Phil Hill. Over the years, more than 25 McPherson College students have earned college scholarships from Pebble Beach.

Pebble Beach Company Foundation scholarship recipients not only attend the event and shadow the judges, they also have been part of panel discussions, prepared and presented cars for the field, and attended numerous additional events during the week. However, this August will mark the first time the college will show a classic vehicle fully restored by its students.

McPherson College MB300S engines class
Students working on the Mercedes-Benz 300 S engine.

“It’s a remarkable accomplishment,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “Since the project began, nearly every student in the auto restoration program has been exposed to the restoration through classes, workshops, or as part of an internship team. For some of them, getting a chance to work on this project was why they decided to attend McPherson College. This achievement will positively impact our students and program for years. Managing this project was an enormous undertaking, and I commend the individuals, especially Brian Martin, who helped mentor our students through this process. Our friends at Paul Russell and Company as well as the Mercedes Benz Classic Center, were excellent advisors on the project. I also thank Jay Leno, whose early and consistent support over the years has helped us flourish and reach Pebble Beach.”

Members of the student team, the Pebble Beach Scholars, college staff, and alumni will accompany the car to Pebble Beach in August. A recognition of their efforts will be celebrated during the CARS Club Motoring Festival on Saturday, May 6, at McPherson College at 2 p.m. before the awards ceremony.

Showing a student-restored car at Pebble Beach is another example of McPherson College achieving what many people consider impossible. In November, the college announced a historic $500 million matching gift. To date, the college has raised over $170 million of the $250 million needed to secure the $500 million, including generous gifts from car enthusiasts Melanie and Richard Lundquist, the Rob Walton Foundation, and Dave Kinney.

McPherson College Announces New Director of Athletics

Josh Daume, athletic directorMcPherson College announces Josh Daume will join the Bulldog Athletic Department as the new director of athletics. Daume has 20 years of experience in NCAA Division I athletics.

“I look forward to welcoming Josh to McPherson College,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “He has a great deal of experience as an administrator and understands the important elements of leading a successful athletic program.”

Daume currently serves as the senior associate athletic director for compliance at Arkansas State University, a position he has held since April 2019. He works closely with the financial aid, admissions, housing, and registrar’s offices, serving as the primary liaison for athletics. In addition to running a comprehensive Division I compliance program, he serves as the sports administrator for the men’s golf, women’s volleyball, and women’s bowling programs. Arkansas State is a highly competitive member of the Sun Belt Conference, winning the 2019-2020 Bubas Cup, the all-sports championship trophy for the conference.

While at ASU, Daume implemented software providing student-athletes access to online, anonymous reporting related to Title IX, NCAA compliance, social justice, and other issues affecting student-athletes. He is a member of the NCAA International Student Records Committee and assisted implementation of a NIL education program to help student-athletes understand the NCAA rules and Arkansas state laws.

“It’s an honor to be named the next athletics director at McPherson College,” Daume said. “When the position came open, I knew it was something I was interested in, and after doing some research, it became clear that McPherson was a tremendous opportunity. Throughout the process, the alignment between the president and the athletics department was apparent, which is necessary for any department to succeed. There is a great staff in place, and the student-athletes I had an opportunity to meet are hungry for success. Most importantly, we will continue building a program where student-athletes have a well-rounded experience, complete their degrees, and represent the college in a first-class manner.”

Daume will begin working on campus on June 1.

Before ASU, he served more than 12 years as the associate athletic director for compliance at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He worked as the Internal Operations Coordinator at Texas State from 2004-07 and was a graduate assistant at Texas A&M in 2004.

Daume is a native of Burkburnett, Texas, and earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Midwestern State in 2002 and a master’s degree in sport management from Texas A&M in 2004. He has been an active high school football official for over 20 years and officiated in the Lone Star Conference (NCAA Division II) for six years.

He and his wife, Leah, have a son.

“My wife and I are excited to get to McPherson and get to know the community,” Daume said. “We’ve heard great things about living there and can’t wait to get started.”

McPherson College Meets Goals In One-Day Giving Blitz

Powering Today

McPherson College’s Power Day 2023 met all the goals set for the annual online giving day, raising $330,000 for scholarships and programs. In its ninth year, more than 350 alumni and friends of the college made gifts that helped unlock five matching challenges that totaled over $90,000.

This year’s matching challenges included:

  • $50,000 from the Paul Family for the MC Fund and academics
  • $12,500 from Young Alumni
  • $10,000 from Jeff Slagle for Automotive Restoration
  • $10,000 from Equity Bank for Athletics
  • $10,000 from the Board of Trustees

“Power Day is not only a day of giving but a time for the McPherson College community to celebrate and remember what McPherson College means to us,” Dave Barrett, director of Power Day, said. “This is the place where many of us were allowed to grow, learn life lessons both in and out of the classroom, and meet forever friends. Power Day is an opportunity for our alumni and friends to make an investment in the next generation of MC students, allow them to have their own unique MC experience, and recognize what makes this place so special.”

The one-day giving blitz featured live and pre-recorded video messages throughout the day on the college’s social media channels and website. Leading up to Power Day, alumni were encouraged to share stories about the community they built at McPherson College that continues today.

“I had the privilege of playing basketball at Mac with two amazing people who became lifelong friends,” said Angelina Froese, a 2009 graduate. “That’s what McPherson College’s environment does, introduces you to great people and encourages its students to build relationships. For that, I’ll forever be grateful I chose McPherson College and be proud to be a Bulldog.”

Although the focus of Power Day is online giving, Barrett said it is also a day to reconnect with friends and communicate why it is important to support the next generation of students through scholarships.

“As we look to continue our tradition of successful fundraising, it will take all levels of donor support,” President Michael Schneider said. “Power Day is one demonstration of our alumni and friends stepping up to make an immediate impact on our students through robust scholarships and innovative programs like the Student Debt Project.”

More information about Power Day, including all the day’s videos, can be found at

Peoples Bank and Trust Pledges $500,000 To Major McPherson College Building Project

Campus Commons - Welcome Center concept

A McPherson business with deep roots in the community is making a significant investment in McPherson College’s most ambitious building campaign. Peoples Bank and Trust has committed $500,000 toward the college’s signature building project – the Campus Commons. In appreciation of the gift, the third-floor Welcome Center in the building will be named the People’s Bank and Trust Welcome Center.

Peoples Bank and Trust’s pledge propels McPherson College closer to completing fundraising for the Campus Commons. The bank’s pledge also boosts McPherson College toward securing a $2 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation.

“This gift recognizes the special relationship between McPherson College and Peoples Bank and Trust,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “It’s fitting that the gift comes during the bank’s 125th anniversary and supports a project that will have a lasting impact on our community.”

Once completed, the Campus Commons will stand as one of the most prominent buildings in McPherson, serving students, employees, and community members. The 55,000-square-foot building will serve as the beating heart of student life on campus, providing a state-of-the-art event venue, service hub, and place to grab a bite—while passing through a three-story atrium with classic cars on display, celebrating McPherson’s one-of-a-kind Automotive Restoration degree program. “The Commons” will be a true signature facility that will accommodate McPherson College’s growth and provide a new “front door” to the campus and a welcome to the city of McPherson.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with McPherson College on their Campus Commons project,” said Tom Pruitt, president and CEO of Peoples Bank and Trust. “We have worked alongside McPherson College since the bank began in 1898.  Our founder, F.A. Vaniman established a relationship with the college when he moved to town and began Peoples State Bank.  That relationship has continued to grow over the past 125 years. We are very excited for the impact the new Campus Commons project will have on the college, as well as the community.”

The gift is part of the successful $60 million Building Community comprehensive campaign, which is the catalyst of the college’s largest-ever investment in new buildings in its 135-year history. In addition to new structures, nearly half of the $60 million in new funding will directly support educational initiatives on campus, such as student scholarships, Health Science, Automotive Restoration, and other academic programs and growth areas.

Peoples Bank and Trust was founded in 1898 by F.A. Vaniman. The bank, known then as Peoples State Bank, was in downtown McPherson in the same location today. Over the years, the bank has supported McPherson College in various ways, a partnership that has reaped benefits for both organizations while serving the people of McPherson. Notably, in 1959 the Vaniman family home was donated to the college and used as a dormitory, and later as the McPherson Museum. In addition to the Vanimans, Sargent family members held prominent roles in the bank, with many attending and graduating from McPherson College. The Houghton family — current bank owners — have been highly involved with McPherson College by serving on its board of trustees and supporting the development of new academic programs.

McPherson College Recognizes Employees For Years Of Service

2023 Service Award honorees

The McPherson College community recently gathered to celebrate 18 employees and trustees for their years of service to the college with a reception, dinner, and awards program at the McPherson Community Building on March 3. The annual night of recognition celebrated the work of faculty, staff, and board of trustee members who have served the college from five to 35 years.

“The outstanding achievements and accomplishments by the honorees in the classroom, within individual departments, and in the McPherson community propel the college beyond being a great college to work for,” President Michael Schneider said. “These honorees facilitated world-class experiences for our students and it is in this deep sense of campus community where our students excel to be leaders of the future.”

Those honored included:

35 Years – Kim Stanley, professor of English

30 Years – Jonathan Frye, professor of natural science

20 Years – Ku-Sup Chin, professor of sociology; Dee Erway-Sherwood, professor of graphic design and program director of graphic design; Rod Gieselman, professor of business; Brian Lundberg, director of marketing

15 Years – Phil Schoenwetter, head athletic trainer

10 Years – Dara Dix, student financial services manager; Lorena Medrano, associate professor of Spanish; Kyle Hopkins, associate professor of music and director of bands

5 Years – Leslie Auman, custodian supervisor; Amelia Lutz, advancement services coordinator; Josh Nichols, head women’s basketball coach; Kelly Olson, admissions association and campus visit coordinator; Jennifer Pollard, assistant professor of theatre; Ricardo Rodriguez, assistant professor of physics

Board of Trustees – Kerri Kobbeman ‘97 and Les Shenefelt ‘69

Nation’s Top Automotive Industry Research Authority Partners With McPherson College Auto Restoration Program To Develop Mobility, Engineering Program

McPherson College will partner with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) — considered the most respected research source in the automotive industry — on a study exploring the future of transportation and mobility to create a new engineering, design, and mobility program building on its existing Automotive Restoration program. Creating a national center for the future of engineering, design, and mobility is one of the key initiatives supported by the college’s $500 million double-match estate commitment.

The CAR study will examine a wide range of approaches to the future of mobility, including electrification, mobility ecosystem, urban planning, roadway design, and more, to create a dynamic curriculum for the new program.

“For decades, the Auto Restoration program at McPherson College has been offering a one-of-a-kind experience for students interested in the history and hands-on restoration of classic cars,” President Michael Schneider said. “We want to build from this unique program and offer students more opportunities based on what the future looks like for transportation and mobility. CAR will help ensure we move in the right direction.”

CAR, a non-profit organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is focused on the future direction of the global automotive industry. Its mission is to inform and advise through independent research, education, and dialogue, enabling a more viable and sustainable automotive ecosystem. CAR maintains close collaboration and relationships with automakers, suppliers, industry associations, government, non-profit, labor organizations, and educational institutions to provide leading, thought-provoking, and impactful research.

CAR specializes in connecting the needs of the automotive industry to what academic curriculums require to match those needs. This includes analyzing degree programs, evaluating student preparedness, and assessing facilities, classrooms, and equipment.

“CAR engages with academic institutions, automotive industry leaders, and municipal organizations to understand the required skills and competencies of the future workforce,” said Alan Amici, President and CEO of CAR. “Our findings will enable McPherson to create an academic program that meets the needs of students and employers in a rapidly changing environment. Today, there is a strong need for students to be involved with a company or project that benefits society. McPherson College recognizes this and values strong community engagement. We are excited to work with McPherson College to bring all these components together in developing this new program.”

The Auto Restoration program at McPherson College is 45 years old and recognized as the only program of its kind in the nation. It offers a bachelor’s degree in technology with an emphasis on automotive history, restoration management, automotive communications, restoration design, and automotive restoration technology. Students are immersed in the automotive industry through hands-on experiences and internships across the country and around the globe. Current students are restoring a 1953 Mercedes Benz 300 S Cabriolet to compete at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August.

The CAR study will include benchmarking existing engineering programs at other colleges and universities, analyzing the engineering skills needed to succeed and lead in the future mobility ecosystem, and making recommendations for curriculum. CAR will also consider additional certification programs to supplement and enhance the new program. McPherson College will receive a final report at the end of May 2023.

To date, the college has raised close to $150 million of the $250 million needed to secure the $500 million match, including a $50 million commitment from Californian philanthropists and car enthusiasts Melanie and Richard Lundquist. To learn more about the $500 million two-for-one match applied to endowment donations and estate gift commitments made to McPherson College, visit

Global Research Powerhouse Teams Up With McPherson College To Expand Impact Of Student Debt Project

McPherson College has partnered with RTI International on an in-depth study and analysis of its pioneering Student Debt Project, one of the key initiatives supported by the $500 million double-match estate commitment recently announced by the college. The research project will advance the Student Debt Project and position McPherson College to expand its impact.

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute with a staff of 6,000 people working in more than 90 countries, with headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. RTI will examine the key features of the college’s Student Debt Project and its outcomes to date, resulting in a white paper that will outline potential opportunities and guide the college’s efforts to refine the model for both McPherson College and other institutions.

“We know that the Student Debt Project is having a positive impact on McPherson College students by engaging them in financial literacy mentoring,” President Michael Schneider said. “Our students are making substantial progress toward decreasing and, in some cases, eliminating student debt at graduation. RTI will provide an important independent analysis while at the same time suggesting ways that our Student Debt Project can benefit students beyond McPherson College.”

The college hopes to build on its experience and expand its work toward decreasing and eliminating college debt by creating a National Center on Student Debt Reduction. RTI will recommend activities to enhance the Student Debt Project at McPherson College while positioning the college to take a more significant national leadership role in lowering student debt.

In the five years since the project began, McPherson College has incrementally decreased its average student debt at graduation, achieving one of the lowest averages among four-year colleges and universities in Kansas. At the start of this academic year, half of all students were participating in the project. The project combines financial literacy education, work experience, and mentorship with matching funds in a pay-as-you-go program.  In addition to the benefits students receive, the college sees greater student retention of those who participate in the program.

“The Student Debt Project impacts students after graduation by helping decrease the amount of money they could be paying into their 20s, 30s, and beyond,” said Taylor Bohannon, a junior from Belle Plain, Kan. “The financial match for every payment you make is a huge help that adds up over time.”

According to President Schneider, McPherson College is committed to minimizing student reliance on loans. “The project is an idea that evolved from our Community by Design strategic plan, and it is making education affordable without unnecessary debt. We are grateful that the recent commitment made to the college’s endowment will ensure that this program continues for future generations of students.”

To date, the college has raised close to $150 million of the $250 million needed to secure the $500 million match, including a $50 million commitment from Californian philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist. To learn more about the $500 million two-for-one match applied to endowment donations and estate gift commitments made to McPherson College, visit

McPherson College Establishes the Rob Walton Scholarship Fund

Rob and Melani Walton Foundation

$1 million gift will go toward $500 million match campaign

McPherson College has announced the creation of an endowed scholarship fund for students pursuing a degree in automotive restoration. The Rob Walton Scholarship Fund will focus on attracting and retaining the best students in the college’s unique automotive restoration program.

The $1 million gift from the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation will be supplemented by the two-for-one donor match announced by the college in November, resulting in $3 million for the McPherson College endowment. The anonymous double-match estate commitment of $500 million is the largest in the history of any liberal arts college in the United States.

“This grant helps us fulfill our mission of being the center of excellence for students serious about automotive restoration,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “Students completing their degree from our program are the skilled craftsmen, technicians, historians, curators, managers, marketing and communication persons, and leaders necessary to preserve the classic car industry.”

The Waltons join the former host of The Tonight Show and car enthusiast Jay Leno in providing student scholarships for the program and continues the significant contributions toward the $500 million match recently announced by McPherson College.

“Driving and collecting vintage automobiles is a personal passion,” said Rob Walton. “We’re pleased to contribute to educating the next generation of car restorers and making college more affordable for McPherson students.”

The McPherson College automotive restoration program combines a liberal arts approach with hands-on craftsmanship that prepares students to be successful in a broad range of careers in the automotive industry. Graduates of the nation’s only accredited four-year bachelor’s degree program in automotive restoration go on to work for the biggest names in the automotive industry. Current students are restoring a 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S Cabriolet that will be entered in the renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2023. The program has attracted the attention of industry leaders and car enthusiasts such as Richard Lundquist, who donated a 1972 Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona to the program.

Beyond offering one-of-a-kind educational opportunities, McPherson College is committed to helping students graduate with little to zero student debt. Its Student Debt Project utilizes financial literacy, mentoring, and matching funds to assist students working while attending college. So far, students in the program have reduced their projected debt at graduation by $12,000. Scholarships, like the Rob Walton Scholarship Fund, work in tandem with the Student Debt Project to help minimize the need for student and family educational loans.

To date, the college has raised over $130 million of the $250 million needed to secure the $500 million match, including a $50 million commitment from Californian philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist. To learn more about the $500 million two-for-one match applied to endowment donations and estate gift commitments made to McPherson College, visit