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North Park University

North Park University
Motto Preparing Students for Lives of Significance and Service[1]
Established 1891[2]
Type Private
Endowment $70 million
(February 14, 2013)[3]
President David L. Parkyn
Academic staff
125 Full-time[4]
Students 3,136[5]
Undergraduates 1,854[4]
Location Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Campus Urban
Colors Blue and Yellow[6]
Athletics NCAA Division III
Mascot Viking
Affiliations Evangelical Covenant Church
Website .edu.northparkwww

North Park University is a four-year university located at 3225 W. Foster Avenue on the north side of Chicago, Illinois in the North Park neighborhood. It was founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church and shares its campus with the denomination's only seminary. The university enrolls more than 3,000 students from around the country and the world and offers bachelor's and master's degrees.


  • History 1
  • Academic programs 2
  • Athletics 3
    • National championships 3.1
  • Student Government Association 4
    • A&E 4.1
    • ARC 4.2
  • The North Park Press 5
    • The Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life 5.1
  • Other traditions 6
  • References 7
  • Other sources 8
  • External links 9


In the later part of the 19th century, thousands of Swedish immigrants left Evangelist D.L. Moody, started a school in Minneapolis in 1884 that would serve as a forerunner to North Park in many ways.

Nyvall Hall

By 1891, the Covenant was in agreement that they should formally establish a school of their own. Skogsbergh offered his school, which served as the official Covenant school for three years, from 1891 until 1893. In 1894, the school was moved to Chicago, a move that upset some, including Skogsbergh. It moved to its present location at the corner of Foster and Kedzie, despite its remoteness from the Loop. It was sited close to then existing Swedish-American villages and the newly established Swedish Covenant Hospital. Old Main, the oldest building on campus, was erected and dedicated on June 16, 1894. It is at this time that the name North Park was first used to describe the school.

The early years of North Park were marked with both struggles and successes. Both enrollment and funding fluctuated greatly in the early years. An interesting source of both money and headache came from P.H. Anderson, who at the time was serving as a Covenant missionary in Alaska. Taking part in the gold rush of the time, Anderson made a massive find. And though he donated a portion of the findings, questionable circumstances surrounded the claim that created tension among the leadership of North Park.

The green space at the center of North Park's campus. The building in the distance is Brandel Library.

An early leader at that time was David Nyvall. He served as president and teacher in the Seminary for many years. The current seminary building, Nyvall Hall, is named after him. By the turn of the century, North Park could boast of a theological seminary, a prominent and large commercial department, a growing music department, and an academy created in 1894 to better prepare students for the seminary.

Since the early days, the school has developed and changed in many ways. In 1958, North Park Junior College expanded from a two-year college into a four-year program, becoming North Park College. In 1997, the controversial decision was made to again change the name of the school, and North Park University was born. Though North Park still holds on to its Swedish American past and close ties with the Evangelical Covenant Church, it is now a multicultural institution focused on diversity. North Park now proudly describes itself as a Liberal Arts University that is intentionally urban, distinctively Christian, and purposefully multicultural. North Park University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Higher Learning Council.[7] The seminary is additionally accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.[8]

North Park's current president, Dr. David L. Parkyn, was inaugurated in November, 2006.

Academic programs

  • Undergraduate College
  • North Park Theological Seminary
  • School of Adult Learning
  • School of Business & Nonprofit Management
  • School of Education
  • School of Music
  • School of Nursing
  • Community Development



The North Park University athletics department fields 17 NCAA Division III teams: 8 men's teams and 9 women's teams.[9] The teams compete in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Men compete in football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, soccer, and track and field. Women compete in volleyball, basketball, softball, golf, soccer, track and field, cross country, and rowing.

North Park fields club teams for men's and women's ultimate frisbee, men's rowing, and men's volleyball. There is also a healthy Intramural sports program on campus. The women's crew team has done slightly better, repeatedly placing in national regattas.

North Park is known as having one of the most successful men's basketball programs in all of college athletics. It has won five men's NCAA Men's Division III Basketball Championships since 1978, including three consecutive ones led by Michael Harper, who later played for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.

The baseball program has seen amazing improvements under new leadership by Coach Luke Johnson. Pitcher Mike Giovenco was drafted in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft by the Minnesota Twins, and was drafted again in 2010 by the Kansas City Royals in the 14th round. The football team has been improving, on Oct. 5, 2013 getting its first conference victory in 13 years.

Decatur Staleys, who became the NFL's Chicago Bears, coached at North Park during the 1930s.

National championships

Men's Basketball (5): 1978, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1987

Student Government Association

Old Main

The North Park Student Government Association (SGA) sponsors many student-led newspaper, the North Park Press, the yearbook known as the Cupola, the North Branch literary magazine, and Java Haus, the student-run coffeeshop in the basement of Burgh Hall.


The division of the Student Association that is responsible for the Academic life of students is known as Academics and Education. Academics and Education represents the student's voice at faculty meetings, plans fun and educational events, and hosts the now infamous Geek Week. It also oversees North Park's academic clubs, which include:[10]

  • Society of Physics Students
  • Philosophy Club
  • Student Arts Organization
  • Psychology Club
  • Student Nursing Association
  • Music Club
  • Red Hymnal Society
  • Tri-Beta
  • History Society
  • American Humanics (Non-profit Student Association)
  • Gender Studies Organization
  • Business Club
  • Chemistry Club
  • African Student Club


The Student Association also sponsors the Associations Representative Council, which is the

  • Official website
  • North Park Athletics website
  • North Park Press – student newspaper website

External links

  • "A History of North Park College" by Leland Carlson (a good overview of the first 50 years, 1891–1941)
  • Swedes In America. 1638-1938 (1938) by Adolph B. Benson and Naboth Hedin, eds. (The Swedish American Tercentenary Association. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press) ISBN 978-0-8383-0326-9

Other sources

  1. ^ [1] Archived September 13, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ [2] Archived September 18, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ [3] Archived March 1, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b [4] Archived November 13, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [6] Archived December 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ [7]
  12. ^ [8] Archived August 17, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ [9] Archived February 27, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^


The Freshman Streak is considered to be the strongest tradition on campus. Each year, freshmen run a course through the campus led by a flag-bearer. The 2015 Streak was marked by controversy because of an administrative decision to attempt to cancel the tradition. Fines of $250 were administered; despite this, the Streak was still well attended.

Another annual tradition is the cafeteria's Thanksgiving dinner. This all-campus event is an opportunity for students to come a receive a free Thanksgiving meal served by both the college's administration and the Residence Life staff.

One annual tradition is the Santa Lucia Festival, held each December in Anderson Chapel. The service follows many Swedish traditions and is one of the few Santa Lucia Festivals held in the Chicago area. There is also an exchange program with Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola and Jönköping University in Jönköping, Sweden.

North Park's Swedish-American identity is evident in many different ways. The Swedish–American Historical Society Archives are administered in Chicago by North Park University's Brandel Library. The Center for Scandinavian Studies at North Park is the legal trustee.

Other traditions

The Johnson Center for Science and Community Life is the newest building on campus. The ribbon cutting ceremony was on September 12–13, 2014. The expansion cost $57 million, largely funded by Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson and in a capital campaign named "Campaign North Park".[13] The Johnson Center is considered a "state-of-the-art" addition to North Park University's science programs and is also home to Einstein Bagels. The Johnson Center has 101,000 square feet, three floors and a garden level and is located in the central area of campus. The Johnson Center is equipped with 30 science laboratories, space for student and faculty research, "Smart" technology in every classroom, and several conference rooms. The building is also dedicated for campus community life with a two-story atrium and "lobby for gathering and social interaction", offices for programs "supporting co-curricular learning, spiritual growth, vocational development, urban engagement, and campus life." The building is also equipped with communal study spaces, a prayer room, and a courtyard.[14]

The Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life

A view of downtown Chicago from Carlson Tower.

Students are invited to submit timely articles pertinent to the issues and discourse revolving around the North Park community.

The sections of the Press" include: Arts & Entertainment, News, Opinion (a section for opinionated articles by students and staff), The Hedgehog (a political column), A Relationship Column, and Sports (updates on sports news for NP). While the newspaper is published under the guidance of a Faculty Advisor and the Dean of Students, it is designed and edited by a small team of student journalists. The Press is owned and operated by the Student Government Association of North Park University.

The primary function of the North Park Press is to serve as a medium in which general campus news, and other relevant information to the university community, is communicated to the student body, staff and alumni. A version of the NP Press is available online and as of the spring semester of 2010 opened a dedicated news website.[12]

The North Park Press

  • African American Student Association (BSA)
  • Commuter Student Association (CSA)
  • East Asian Student Association (EASA)
  • Latin American Student Organization (LASO)
  • Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA)
  • Scandinavian Student Association (SSA)


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