North Park University
Former name
North Park Theological Seminary (1891–1894)
North Park Junior College (1894–1958)
North Park College (1958–1997)
Motto"In Thy Light Shall We See Light"
"Preparing Students for Lives of Significance and Service"[1]
TypePrivate university
Established1891; 132 years ago (1891)[2][3]
Religious affiliation
Evangelical Covenant Church
Endowment$76.3 million (2020)[4]
PresidentMary K. Surridge
Academic staff
125 Full-time[5]
Students2,660 (Fall 2022)[6]
Undergraduates1,868 (Fall 2022)
Postgraduates792 (Fall 2022)
Location, ,
United States
CampusLarge City, 33 acres (0.13 km2)
Other campusesGrayslake
ColorsBlue and yellow[7]
Sporting affiliations

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 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students.


The university has its origins in the founding of North Park Theological Seminary in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church in Minneapolis. [8] In 1894, the school moved to Chicago and opened as North Park College.[9] 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.[10]

Nyvall Hall

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.
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.

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 decision was made to again change the name of the school, and North Park University was born.[11] 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.[12] The seminary is additionally accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.[13] North Park's last president, David L. Parkyn, retired at the end of the 2016–2017 academic year.[14] Carl E. Balsam was named as the interim president in June 2017, and served until August 2018.[15] Mary Surridge was nominated as the school's tenth president, and began her term in August 2018.[16][10]


The university is organized into the following academic units:

It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. Its most popular undergraduate majors, based on number out of 365 graduates in 2022, were:[17]


The North Park athletic teams are called the Vikings. The university is a member of the Division III level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) since the 1962–63 academic year. The Vikings previously competed in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1959–60 to 1961–62.

North Park competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports:[18] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, track & field and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

Men's basketball

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.

Men's Track and Field

North Park's Dave Valentine won the 1983 NCAA Men's Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the 10,000 meters setting a Division III National Championship record held from 1983 to 1994 and setting school records in the Indoor 2 mile, 3 mile and 5,000 meters in addition to the Outdoor 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and Marathon.

Men's soccer

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.[19]


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.

Club sports and intramurals

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 championships

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

Men's Track & Field: 1983 10,000 meters.

Student Government Association

Old Main at North Park University
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 Magazineand the North Branch literary magazine.


The North Branch

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.[20]

The Spectrum

Formerly The North Park Press, the primary student-led publication was rebranded as The Spectrum in 2014 under the leadership of then editor-in-chief, Rob Kraft.

The Spectrum magazine is North Park University's primary and original 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.[21]

The Vista Magazine

The Vista Magazine is a North Park student-led magazine which was founded in 2017 by Stephen Nielsen and Ricardo Huerta. 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.[22] The Vista Magazine receives its funding from SGA and works under the guidance of a faculty member.

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

The Johnson Center for Science and Community Life was opened in September 2014. The expansion cost $57 million largely funded by Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson in a capital campaign named "Campaign North Park".[23] 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.[24]

Swedish-American traditions

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.[25] 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.[26] The university has an student exchange program with Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola and Jönköping University in Jönköping, Sweden.[27]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "North Park University: Christian - Urban - Multicultural". Archived from the original on September 13, 2008.
  2. ^ "North Park University: Christian - Urban - Multicultural". Archived from the original on September 18, 2008.
  3. ^ “US News - Best Colleges:"North Park University”
  4. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  5. ^ "North Park University: Christian - Urban - Multicultural". Archived from the original on November 13, 2008.
  6. ^ "North Park University". Retrieved August 9, 2023.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2015-08-22.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Randall Herbert Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism: Revised and expanded edition, Baylor University Press, USA, 2004, p. 497
  9. ^ Bill Keegan, North Park University Celebrates 125 Years of Quality Academics, Faith and Diversity,, USA, September 21, 2016
  10. ^ a b “North Park University History and Heritage”
  11. ^ Praeger, American Universities and Colleges, 19th Edition [2 Volumes]: Nineteenth Edition, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2010, p. 353
  12. ^ The Higher Learning Commission, December 2017
  13. ^ "North Park University - Christian, Urban, Intercultural". Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  14. ^ "A Message from the Board of Trustees - North Park University". North Park University. 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  15. ^ "A Message from Board Chair, Dr. Kristine Strand and ECC President Gary Walter". North Park University. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  16. ^ "Mary Karsten Surridge to Serve as North Park University's Tenth President". North Park University. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  17. ^ "North Park University". U.S. Dept of Education. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  18. ^ "North Park University Athletics". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  19. ^ "A Historic Run to Greensboro". North Park University. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  20. ^ "The North Branch - North Park University". North Park University. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  21. ^ "Spectrum". Archived from the original on 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  22. ^ "Home". Vista Magazine. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  23. ^ "The Time is Now: The Johnson Center - North Park University - Christian, Urban, Multicultural". Archived from the original on February 27, 2014.
  24. ^ "Campaign North Park University - Christian, Urban, Multicultural". Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  25. ^ "Scandinavian Studies". North Park University. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  26. ^ "Sankta Lucia: A Time-Honored Tradition". North Park University. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  27. ^ "Chicago to Jönköping: North Park University's Oldest Exchange Program". North Park University. Retrieved May 15, 2016.

Further reading

41°58′31″N 87°42′35″W / 41.9752°N 87.7098°W / 41.9752; -87.7098