Chartered in 1887 by leaders of the Church of the Brethren, McPherson College has a distinguished history of providing excellent liberal arts and career-oriented education shaped by the essential values of its founding denomination. The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination founded in Germany in 1708. It accepts the New Testament as the rule of faith and emphasizes the inherent value of all persons, the communal discernment of truth, the necessity of putting faith into action, and the biblical calls to simplicity, non-violence, non-conformity and transformation through education. Brethren strive to "continue the work of Jesus - peacefully... simply... together." McPherson College's programs integrate career guidance and practical experiences into a traditional liberal arts curriculum that upholds the highest standards of academic excellence. Our goal is to help students discern a vocational call consistent with their gifts and interests and to prepare them for a life of meaningful work. Community is central to McPherson College. We affirm diversity within the community, emphasizing unity and acceptance rather than judgment and rejection. Because we believe that the pursuit of truth is a collective endeavor, and that the point of scholarly learning is to advance the common good, McPherson College aspires to be a healthy community of learning where whole persons nurture and balance their physical, intellectual, and spiritual components; develop and live in respectful, reciprocal relationships with others; and are committed to responsible service to the world.
During their 1887 Annual Meeting, the Church of the Brethren recognized the need for a college west of the Mississippi River to serve the educational desires of settlers moving westward. These leaders decided to investigate potential sites. In August 1887 McPherson, Kansas, in McPherson County was chosen and McPherson College and Institute was founded. The first academic semester opened on 5 September 1888, with 60 students and a faculty of seven. The Dormitory, a single building which served as residence hall, college, and library had been constructed before the semester began. By the end of the first school year nearly 200 students had enrolled and the foundation had been laid for the main building. In 1898, Sharp Hall was completed, though it had been used for school purposes for some time while still incomplete. On 12 February 1898, the school was officially christened "McPherson College." A Carnegie Library was added to the campus in 1906, supported by an endowment. In 1909, the college purchased a 150-acre (0.61 km2) farm for the agricultural department. At this time other academic departments included education, fine arts, Bible, and business, as well as pre-medical and pre-engineering courses. Bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees were conferred on students who completed the classical or the scientific collegiate course of study, respectively. Other buildings added in the early years included the Alumni Gymnasium (1911); Arnold Hall (1915); Kline Hall (1919); and Harnly Hall (1922). In 1938 the old Alumni Gymnasium was torn down and replaced by the new Gymnasium. One clause from the Corporation Charter for McPherson College states, It is the purpose of this Corporation to do any and all things necessary and expedient to be done for the advancement of higher Christian education. To fulfill this purpose, McPherson College applied for accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and in 1921 it was one of the first colleges in Kansas to receive it. In 1926, J Willard Hershey synthesized one of the world's earliest synthetic (man-made) diamonds on the McPherson College campus. Reporting on his experiments, Hershey wrote, "Since we first began our experiments in their manufacï¿½ture more than 50 diamonds have been made synthetically at McPherson College, ranging in size from the smallest, one millimeter (about 1/25 inch) in diameter, to the largï¿½est, which, is two millimeters by one and one half milliï¿½meters by one millimeter, weighing 1/30 carat. One of the diamonds is on display at the McPherson Museum in McPherson, Kansas. There is some debate about the success of Hershey's experiments, with some researchers concluding that the diamonds were not true diamonds and others concluding that some of them were.During the Great Depression of the 1930s, McPherson College underwent financial difficulties. The college president, Vernon F. Schwalm, provided the leadership to maintain all the academic majors and preserve the faculty intact. In 1962, McPherson College became a charter member of Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA). In 1976, local entrepreneur Gaines H. ï¿½Smokeyï¿½ Billue, provided funds for the construction of Templeton Hall along with additional operating capital through the donation of a portion of his classic and antique car collection. This donation provided the spark to launch the Automotive Restoration Technology program at McPherson College. The Tonight Show host Jay Leno has been a financial supporter of the Automotive Restoration Technology program since 1997 and a member of the program's National Advisory Board since 1998. By the fall of 2010, McPherson College had the highest student fall enrollment in over 40 years.
Jonathan Coachman, former World Wrestling Entertainment and current ESPN personality. James Zacchaeus Gilbert, class of 1894, first large-scale excavator of La Brea Tar Pits, teacher at Los Angeles High School Harvey Harlow Nininger, class of 1914, American meteorite collector, self-taught meteorologist, educator, considered by many today to be the "father of modern meteoritics". Duane Earl Pope, convicted bank robber and murderer. Briefly on the FBI 10 Most Wanted List.