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North Park University is a private Christian university in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church. It is located on Chicago's north side and enrolls more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

North Park University
MottoPreparing Students for Lives of Significance and Service[1]
Endowment$70 million
(February 14, 2013)[3]
PresidentMary Surridge
Academic staff
125 Full-time[4]
Location, ,
United States
ColorsBlue and Yellow[6]
Sporting affiliations
NPU Primary logo.jpg



In the later part of the 19th century, thousands of Swedish immigrants left Sweden and began to settle in America. As the communities, concentrated in the Midwest with hubs in Chicago and Minneapolis, began to settle and develop, many things began to happen that would pave the way for North Park University. The denomination that is now known as the Covenant began to organize in the 1880s and soon the education of Swedish immigrants, specifically theological education, became an important issue. Erik August Skogsbergh (1850–1939), sometimes called the Swedish Moody for his association with the famous Chicago Evangelist D.L. Moody, started a school in Minneapolis in 1884 at First Covenant Church that would serve as a forerunner to North Park.

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 "quad" 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. Nyvall 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 an intercultural institution focused on diversity. North Park describes itself as a Liberal Arts University that is Christian, city-centered, and intercultural. North Park University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Higher Learning Commission.[7] The seminary is additionally accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.[8] North Park's last president, David L. Parkyn, retired at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.[9] Carl E. Balsam was named as the interim president in June 2017, and served until August 2018.[10] Mary Surridge was nominated as the school's tenth president, and began her term in August 2018.[11]

Academic programsEdit

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business and Nonprofit Management
  • School of Education
  • School of Music, Art, and Theater
  • School of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • School of Professional Studies
  • North Park Theological Seminary


The North Park University athletics department fields 16 NCAA Division III teams: 8 men's teams and 8 women's teams.[12] The teams compete in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Men compete in football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, soccer, track and field, and volleyball. Women compete in volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, soccer, track and field, cross country, and rowing.

North Park has had a successful men's basketball program. 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.

North Park Men's Soccer ended their 2017 season with a record of 20-2-2, finishing runner-up for the National Championship title. Their decorated season included a CCIW Championship, CCIW Tournament Championship, victories all the way to the NCAA Championship game, seven All-CCIW picks (including Newcomer and Player of the Year), four All-Region picks, a First Team All American selection, and a plethora of awards for Head Coach John Born: National Coach of the Year, Regional Coach of the Year, and CCIW Coach of the Year.[13]

North Park Baseball has shown recent success, winning CCIW titles in 2011 and 2012. Since 2010, North Park has appeared in the CCIW Tournament five times (2010-2014, 2018), winning the conference’s postseason tournament in 2012.

North Park fields club teams for men's and women's ultimate frisbee and men's volleyball. There is also a healthy Intramural sports program on campus.

National ChampionshipsEdit

Men's Basketball: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1987

Student Government AssociationEdit

Old Main

The North Park Student Government Association (SGA) sponsors many student-led organizations on campus. Some of the organizations SGA helps with include the weekly student magazine, the Vista Magazine, the North Branch literary magazine, and Java Haus, the student-run coffeeshop in the basement of Burgh Hall.


The Vista MagazineEdit

The Vista Magazine is a North Park student-lead magazine which was founded in 2017. This online and print magazine is led by a team of North Park students. Sympathetic to the new digital age, The Vista Magazine, also known as Vista, features new articles on their website every week. Exclusive content is also on printed magazines are available twice every semester. Vista covers student opinions on a wide range of political or religious views as well as the arts.[14] The Vista Magazine receives its funding from SGA and works under the guidance of a faculty member.

The North BranchEdit

The North Branch boasts a rich history. Established in the 1930s under the title Pegasus, numerous editions were produced to showcase student work. The publication thrived as North Park progressed from an academy to a two-year college, eventually becoming a four-year institution and receiving university status in 1997. Although the school was in a transitional period throughout much of the publication’s early years, its history was finally cohered once it was renamed The North Branch, a nod to the portion of the river that runs through the North Park campus. Active throughout the mid-2000s, the publication leaders took some time away from the project to regroup. It was eventually reintroduced into the North Park community during the 2014–15 school year, remaining active since and re-branded as The North Branch Literary and Fine Arts Journal.[15]

The SpectrumEdit

Formerly The North Park Press, the name changed to The Spectrum in 2014.

The Spectrum magazine is North Park University's primary publishing body. Student writers and editors publish articles primarily pertaining to the University but they also comment on local, national, and global issues. Since 2017, the magazine has taken a new format in which it was divided into three section: Politics, Culture, and Sports. The Spectrum hosts a website where articles can be found, as well as print publications which are released on campus periodically.[16]

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

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".[17] 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.[18]

Swedish-American TraditionsEdit

North Park's Swedish-American tradition is evident in various 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.[19] The Saint Lucy's Day festival is 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.[20] There is also an exchange program with Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola and Jönköping University in Jönköping, Sweden.[21]

Notable alumniEdit


  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. ^ "Higher Learning Commission". Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2015-08-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ [5] The Higher Learning Commission, December 2017
  8. ^ "North Park University - Christian, Urban, Intercultural". Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  9. ^ "A Message from the Board of Trustees - North Park University". North Park University. 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  10. ^ "A Message from Board Chair, Dr. Kristine Strand and ECC President Gary Walter". North Park University. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  11. ^ "Mary Karsten Surridge to Serve as North Park University's Tenth President". North Park University. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  12. ^ "North Park University Athletics". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  13. ^ "A Historic Run to Greensboro". North Park University. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  14. ^ "Home". Vista Magazine. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  15. ^ "The North Branch - North Park University". North Park University. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  16. ^
  17. ^ [6] Archived February 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Campaign North Park University - Christian, Urban, Multicultural". Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  19. ^ "Scandinavian Studies". North Park University. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  20. ^ "Sankta Lucia: A Time-Honored Tradition". North Park University. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  21. ^ "Chicago to Jönköping: North Park University's Oldest Exchange Program". North Park University. Retrieved May 15, 2016.

Other sourcesEdit

External linksEdit