World’s only four-year automotive restoration program gets $500M boost

No matter how you use or abuse a vehicle, you will likely learn something. You can kickstart an informal education with a few hundred bucks and a search on Craigslist—or you can learn the craft of restoration from professionals at Kansas’ McPherson College, which just announced a massive gift of $500 million that could make it one of the richest liberal arts colleges in the United States.

This humble, 800-student college offers a Bachelors of Science in Automotive Restoration, the only four-year degree of its kind in the world. The program comprises roughly 120 students that, upon graduation, spread worldwide into every arm of the automotive industry. (Your author is one such example.) With this recent, anonymous donation, the program may not only reach farther but go more in-depth than ever before.

“This is an unprecedented show of support not just for McPherson College but also for America’s small, liberal arts colleges,” says McPherson president Michael Schneider. “I am indescribably grateful to our anonymous donor for giving McPherson College the resources to implement our expansive strategic plan and truly create the student-first campus of the future.”

Michael Schiender with chart of donations
McPherson College

The donation is set up as a 2:1 matching affair, meaning the donor will give $2 for every $1 raised by the college between now and June of 2023. The funds will go into the endowment of the school and improve the campus in a multitude of ways.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, Kansas, where Melanie Lundquist spoke on behalf of the anonymous donor. She is a familiar face to students, having spoken at the college’s commencement this spring, and an appropriate voice for such a generous supporter of the college: She and her husband gifted the college their prized 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona along with $25 million in August of this year.

The Lundquists announced an additional $25 million to assist in the jump-start of the nearly $250 million the college needs to raise in order to maximize the anonymous, 2:1 donation. As of this writing, donations total $130 million thanks to a “quiet phase” of fundraising prior to the announcement.

Mcpherson College Ferrari Daytona announcement
Phil Parrish

McPherson College’s Automotive Restoration Technology program is no stranger to national acclaim. Jay Leno has not only donated but been a vocal supporter of the school for years. The program is not sitting on its laurels, either: Students are currently on schedule to compete in 2023 at one of the automotive world’s signature events, the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California. They will compete on the 18th fairway with a 1953 Mercedes Benz 300 S, which the undergrads will have completely restored.

It’s just one example of how the restoration program has inspired the college’s future growth, deepening its investment in fields like engineering, design and mobility. With this new donation, McPherson College plans a new automotive collection facility with climate-controlled areas to store, display, and maintain classic cars, giving students access to state-of-the-art restoration equipment.

“The gifts announced today will transform students’ lives,” said senior Victoria Bruno during the press conference. “McPherson College provides me with an unparalleled learning environment where I can cultivate my skill set and build a solid foundation for my future career.

“Because of my time at McPherson, I know I will make a difference in the world.”

Old cars and the people who love them can do that. Learn more about how to donate by visiting McPherson College’s website.

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