While $2 million gifts are not totally uncommon at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the manner in which the school expects to receive its next such gift is unusual.
A Rose-Hulman alumnus plans to sell an elite sports car with proceeds establishing an endowed faculty chair.
The car, a 2015 McLaren P1 with several custom features, will be sold Friday with no reserve at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. It is expected to go for between $2 million and $2.3 million at an auction that will also feature several Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Aston-Martins.
“This represents the donor’s commitment to Rose-Hulman and, more importantly, to a transformational faculty member that he had when he was here,” said Jim Conwell, the college’s president. “This will allow us to continue to grow our strength in teaching excellence in a very personal manner … (and) will help us attract the next generation and many following generations of great educators.”
The alumnus, who wants to remain anonymous, plans to establish the Alfred R. Schmidt Chair for Excellence in Teaching, honoring one of the institute’s legendary faculty members.
The car, nicknamed “The Professor,” helped turn the fortunes of McLaren Automotive and put the iconic brand alongside Ferrari and Porsche in the exotic car marketplace. The hybrid vehicle, with carbon-fiber architecture, is considered a pioneer in its field. The model sold out within a few months of its initial offering.
Gooding & Company, the auction house handling the sale, bills the vehicle as “one of the world’s greatest supercars” and says it is capable of “delivering an exhilarating ride on the track, a rewarding drive on a favorite winding road, as well as remarkable convenience and comfort for the urban commuter.”
“Given Rose-Hulman’s national reputation in science, engineering and mathematics education, we think it fitting that such a high performance, beautifully-engineered car is representing the university,” Conwell said.
The Schmidt Chair will create new learning experiences and provide for national engagement with other exceptional scholars, said Anne Houtman, vice president for academic affairs.
“We have always invested and this generous gift reinforces that commitment while enabling us to continue attracting and retaining world-class faculty,” Houtman said. “I can’t think of a better way to honor Professor Schmidt’s legacy.
Schmitt served as professor of mathematics for 46 years until his retirement in 1995. He helped launch Operation Catapult, which brings rising high school seniors to campus each summer to learn about science and engineering. The 1949 mechanical engineering graduate died in 2007.
Rose-Hulman is already widely known but sale of the McLaren at Amelia Island “is going to be a game changer in terms of getting our name out there,” said Conwell. “Hopefully, we’re going to grow the name recognition to the extent that people in the education community know us as an innovator and a leader.”