Welcome Convocation Opens New Academic Year at North Park University
Record incoming class anticipated for 2011-2012
CHICAGO — (Aug. 26, 2011) North Park University's Pres. David L. Parkyn encouraged new students to “find your voice” as the University opened the 2011-2012 academic year at its annual “Welcome Convocation” on August 24. New students and their families were also told that they are part of the largest incoming class in the University’s history.
Though final numbers will not be official until mid-September, preliminary figures show North Park is expecting a record incoming class of approximately 682 students, said Nate Mouttet, North Park's vice president for enrollment and marketing. Current numbers include 424 first-year students and 258 transfer students, both record totals, he said.
New students from 30 states are attending North Park this fall, and there are 49 new students from seven countries outside the United States studying here, Mouttet said. They join a large group of returning international students.
In his remarks, Parkyn told the new students it is important for them to know the “voice” of the University.
Part of its voice is a voice of faith, Parkyn said. “We take faith seriously at North Park. It’s an eclectic and inclusive voice of faith, to be sure, because this voice of faith is shaped and spoken by each member of the community.” People come to faith by reading Scripture, worshiping, and learning and living together, he said, but also by “walking the sidewalks of this city” and meeting people of faith from around the world.
“Such faith nurtures our voice as a University,” he said.
Another part of North Park’s voice “is a voice of the city,” the president said, pointing out that it doesn’t take long for North Park students to discover that “Chicago is our classroom and all Chicagoans are our teachers.” Parkyn said the campus is located in an area regarded by many as the most diverse zip code in the country. One half of the residents in the surrounding Albany Park neighborhoods were born outside the United States, and more than 150 languages are spoken by residents, he said.
Parkyn added that new students, living and studying in a diverse context, must now find their own voices. “This is you sacred obligation: to continue your life’s journey, to uncover who you are and want to be, to exercise your voice,” he said.
Andrea Nevels, vice president for student development, also welcomed the new students. North Park will offer them experiences that will shape their lives for years to come, she said, adding that “we know North park will be a better place, a more rich and vibrant learning community, with each of you as a part of us.”
Judy Peterson, campus pastor, reminded the new students and parents the one thing they all have in common is that no one knows what will happen in the next four years. Despite their intentions, career plans and relationships could change, she said.
“But no matter what happens,” she said, “God will never leave you. Not in the next four years, not in the next 40, no matter what changes, nothing can separate you from the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ.”
The convocation included prayers for new students, their parents, and families, and the singing of the alma mater, “The Blue and Gold.”
Students new to North Park moved into on-campus housing August 24 and began participation in Threshold, the University's multi-day orientation program. Fall semester classes begin August 29.
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