McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas

McPherson College, Kansas

McPherson College, Kansas

McPherson College, in McPherson, Kansas, was chartered in August 1887 by German Baptist Brethren church leaders who recognized the need for a college west of the Mississippi River to serve the educational desires of settlers moving westward. The first academic semester opened in September 1888, with 60 students and a faculty of seven.

The dormitory, a single building that served as a 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. In February 1898, the school was officially christened McPherson College.

The college endeavored to cultivate the intellect and instill principles of morality and the truths of religion. Devotional exercises were held each school day in the chapel, and regular evening prayers were held in the dormitory. This college advocated plain dress and simplicity in life habits and discouraged social classes, thus making it a home for rich and poor alike. In the early 1900s, it occupied three buildings: a main school building, a dormitory, and a library erected through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie. It embraced four departments: the Department of Arts, Literature, and Science; the Department of Fine Arts, the Business Department, and the Biblical Department. In 1910, there were 24 instructors and about 700 students.

Sharp Hall at McPherson College, Kansas about 1915.

Sharp Hall at McPherson College, Kansas, about 1915.

The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination founded in Germany in 1708. It accepts the New Testament as the rule of faith. It emphasizes the inherent value of all people, 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.

McPherson College’s programs integrate career guidance and practical experiences into a traditional liberal arts curriculum that upholds the highest standards of academic excellence. The goal is to help students discern a vocational call consistent with their gifts and interests and prepare them for meaningful work.

Community is central to McPherson College. It affirms diversity within the community, emphasizing unity and acceptance rather than judgment and rejection. Because it believes 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 people 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.

Its beautiful 27-acre campus is at 1600 E. Euclid in McPherson, Kansas. Today, it offers over 40 areas of study, including pre-professional programs, and the option to create a student-designed major allows students to combine select courses throughout the curriculum to meet their specific personal and professional goals. The college has a primarily residential student body of over 800 from 33 states and 26 countries.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, January 2024.

Also See:

Education in Kansas

McPherson County, Kansas

Past Colleges & Universities of Kansas

Present Colleges & Universities of Kansas


Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
McPherson College