MCPHERSON, Kan. (KSNW) — McPherson College announced Friday that it has received an anonymous $500 million estate commitment to its endowment.

The school says it is the largest single commitment to a small liberal arts college in the nation.

The donation is a double-match estate commitment. That means the anonymous donor will match every financial gift to McPherson College two to one up to $500 million.

The school said it simply means every dollar given to the college will be matched with two more dollars from the donor. The anonymous donor can pay over time, or the total is due in full upon their death. 

The college has until June 30 to raise $250 million. If it does, McPherson College will succeed in getting the anonymous donor’s entire $500 million, bringing the school’s total donations to $750 million.

School leaders say this record donation will allow them to reimagine and reinvent the McPherson College campus while pursuing initiatives that enhance the student experience.

Michael Schneider, McPherson College president, says the donation will fund four initiatives:

  • Student debt project
  • The new campus master plan
  • The development of a Kansas Center for Rural and Community Health
  • A new National Center for the Future of Engineering, Design and Mobility

In May, California philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist announced they were giving $25 million to the school’s Building Community Campaign. Melanie Lundquist returned to the school for Friday’s announcement.

“It’s an understatement that today is the biggest day in McPherson College’s history. I thought back in May, when my husband and I made a $25 million commitment to McPherson, it was a big day,” she said in a joking manner. The audience laughed and applauded.

At the time of the Lundquists’ donation, the $25 million was the single largest contribution in the school’s history. Melanie Lundquist said their donation has been “totally eclipsed, and the school is all the better for it.”

“That said, Richard and I have our own additional announcement to make. We want to underscore the importance of this matching grant,” Lundquist said. “We want to strengthen our commitment to McPherson College and, President Schneider, count us in for another $25 million.”

The audience erupted in applause again.

Lundquist said that the anonymous donor gave her permission to speak on the donor’s behalf.

“They’ve chosen to remain anonymous because they value their privacy,” she said. “But more importantly than that, their anonymity is because they are absolutely adamant that the attention be placed on the students and the good work of McPherson College, not themselves.”

Lundquist was asked why she and her husband feel so committed to the school. She said they have gotten to know the school and its leadership, and they see the commitment to the students.

“We have come to really understand what the small liberal arts college represents, both Richard and myself,” she said. “We graduated from a very large university, and so we didn’t have the experience of the small liberal arts college. But we’ve come to understand what it signifies for this country.”

The school says there was a “quiet phase” to the $500 million double-match challenge before Friday’s announcement.

With the donations and commitments that came in during the quiet phase, plus the Lundquists’ $50 million, McPherson College has already raised $130 million of the $250 million needed to get the anonymous donor’s $500 million.

It is asking for help raising the other $120 million. The school is looking for outright gifts and estate gift commitments. To learn more about the $500 million endowment match or donate, click here.

McPherson College has more than 800 students enrolled. The school offers more than 30 undergraduate degree programs.