North Park University Board of Trustees Hears Promising Campaign Update

Parkyn at Board of Trustees Meeting
North Park University President David Parkyn presented an extensive report to the board about North Park Theological Seminary.

Record undergraduate enrollment reported, seminary recommendations affirmed

CHICAGO (November 9, 2011) – Progress on Campaign North Park, a comprehensive fund raising effort, and record success in undergraduate student recruitment, were among the topics presented for discussion to the North Park University Board of Trustees, which met here at the University Oct. 25-26. The board received a report on North Park Theological Seminary from the University president and an update on the seminary leadership search. In addition, a group of seven new trustees was welcomed at the meeting.

Campaign North Park

The fundraising goal for Campaign North Park is $57 million. The campaign, formally launched in June, seeks $8 million for University's Annual Fund; $6 million for scholarships; $1 million for Chicago-based academic programs and faculty development; and $42 million for a new Science and Community Life Building. Campaign North Park has raised $51.7 million, with some elements of the campaign exceeding goals, said Mary Surridge, North Park University vice president for development and alumni relations. Fundraising for the new building has reached $31 million, with nearly $11 million more to be secured, she said. University leaders hope to break ground for the new building in 2012.

The University is concentrating its fundraising efforts on two levels to achieve the building goal: President's Club giving of $1,000 or more per year, and Leadership giving of $100,000 or more over the life of the campaign, Surridge said. Surridge asked board members to be part of the campaign, saying, "The time is now."

"If we are to continue to advance the mission of this University, and all of the programs we're engaged in for our students, Leadership giving must be a signature part of our fundraising effort. This campaign offers the opportunity to accomplish that," she said. "Our goal is within reach. Our students are depending on us, and I look forward to your help to come through for them."

Record undergraduate enrollment

Nate Mouttet, vice president for enrollment and marketing, told the board that the University welcomed a record 675 new students for the 2011 Fall Semester. That, combined with strong retention of current students, helped North Park achieve its highest traditional undergraduate enrollment ever, with 1,929 students, he said.

Mouttet said factors that contributed to the enrollment success include a new recruiting attitude and structure, better communication with students, enhanced recruiting and a new application process, and a strategic plan for enrollment growth in athletics. The significance of the University's action in 2004 to restructure and lower its tuition should not be underestimated, Mouttet said. "North Park University is a great value," Mouttet said. "We are in a much more vibrant position to reach Chicago, and the market that we're pursuing.

The University will also be working with academic leaders to bolster adult learning, graduate and seminary enrollment, Mouttet added.

Board affirms direction for North Park Theological Seminary

The trustees affirmed recommendations in an internal report addressing challenges facing the University's North Park Theological Seminary, the seminary of the Chicago-based Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), and recommendations for its future leader. The report was presented to the board by Dr. David L. Parkyn, North Park University president. The board requested the report at its May 2011 meeting.

Parkyn prepared the report in collaboration with the seminary faculty. The draft report was discussed at an August retreat with the seminary faculty and the University leadership team. At the retreat, Dr. David L. Tiede, former president of Luther Seminary, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seminary in St. Paul, Minn., served as consultant and facilitated the discussion. The report was informed by internal data on seminary enrollment, finances, and curriculum, along with conversations with ECC leaders and board members, Parkyn said. The University president also said he consulted with presidents of four other universities with theological seminaries.

The board's Seminary Committee and the full Board of Trustees reviewed the president's internal report on the seminary, and approved a "recasting" of the senior leadership position, Parkyn said. The seminary leader will assume the title, "Dean of the Seminary," and will continue to report to the North Park University president. The dean will also serve on the University's senior leadership team. The Seminary Leadership Search Committee presented a revised "Opportunity Profile" for the dean's role to the trustees. With the board's endorsement, the University will proceed immediately to identify a nominee as Dean of the Seminary.

Meanwhile, Parkyn reported that several assessment and program development activities related to the seminary have been initiated in recent months. The activities address alignment of mission with the ECC; curricular development; tuition and financial aid; and marketing and enrollment. Seminary and University leaders, meanwhile, will address matters related to faculty profile, workload and practices; a sustainable economic model for the seminary; and fundraising.

Saying "this is a critical moment," Parkyn told the Board of Trustees, "All of us who have worked on this over the course of the summer are hopeful for the future vitality of the seminary. That's our goal, and that's what we're looking toward. We think there is a very special place in the life of the Evangelical Covenant Church for North Park Theological Seminary."

"To have a common understanding of both the grand opportunities and the very real challenges gives good compass bearings for finding our way forward," said the Rev. Gary B. Walter, ECC president and an ex-officio member of the board. "I am expecting that North Park will be a leading example of missional theological education for the future."

Board welcomes seven trustees

The Board welcomed seven trustees, who will serve five-year terms:

  • Lars P. Anderson C'85, vice president for new business development, U.S. Bank, Detroit
  • Bruce P. Bickner A'61, retired board chair and CEO, Dekalb (Ill.) Genetics Corporation
  • Jay P. Carstenbrock, retired vice president for operations support, BP, Chicago
  • Dr. Kathryn Edin-Nelson C'84, professor of public policy and management, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Rev. D. Darrell Griffin S'06, pastor, Oakdale Covenant Church, Chicago
  • Dr. Calla M. Holmgren C'95, physician, Gardner Women and Newborn Center, Intermountain Hospital, Salt Lake City
  • Gregory D. Wittrock C'69, vice president, general counsel and secretary, Masco Corporation, Taylor, Mich.


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