North Park’s History: Enlightened Hearts, Warmed Intellects
North Park University’s history and heritage reach back to a Minneapolis church basement in 1891, where classes in language and business gave Swedish immigrants the skills needed to prosper in America. With an offer of land in Chicago, the school moved to the North Park neighborhood which was then just beyond the city limits. Old Main, the first building on campus, was completed in 1894. Its cupola became a landmark for pilots to locate Orchard Field (now O’Hare International Airport). The cupola was the tallest point on the city’s north side. At various points in its history, North Park was an academy, a junior college, and a four-year liberal arts college. We became a university, with a theological seminary, in 1997.
Now, North Park is Chicago’s city-centered Christian University. It serves nearly 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country and the world. Within a diverse, close-knit community, it offers a values-based education to students through more than 40 undergraduate majors, as well as graduate and continuing education in business, nonprofit management, nursing, education, music, and theology. Campus facilities have been extensively renovated, including the LEED-certified Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, the Helwig Recreation Center, the Holmgren Athletic Complex, and the Brandel Library
The mission of North Park University, as the University of the Evangelical Covenant Church, is to prepare students for lives of significance and service through education in the liberal arts, professional studies, and theology.
Building on our core institutional identity—Christian, city-centered, intercultural—our vision is to create a university of uncommon character and enduring excellence, where faith, learning, and service meet.
North Park University will be distinguished as the nation’s leading city-centered Christian university during the coming decade and beyond.
The University’s learning community is differentiated by adopting the city as both subject and place of learning as a foundation for academic excellence. Within this framework, the University educates students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and prior academic experiences, practicing Christian hospitality with students of all faith traditions while centering in the Affirmations of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
The University will be known through its graduates who are equipped in their respective careers to advance the vitality of the world’s people and their cities, prepared to cross cultures, and formed in Christian community for leadership and service in the church and the world.