North Park University Dean Addresses Higher Education Advisory Committee

Dean Charles Peterson
Charles Peterson, Dean of the College of Arts and Science

IBHE committee meets at Chicago campus

CHICAGO (October 20, 2011) – North Park University administrators, faculty and staff have worked to make the University "a welcoming place" for students of all ethnicities, said Dr. Charles Peterson, dean of the University's College of Arts and Sciences. Peterson, commenting to an Illinois higher education group, also said the University reported record traditional undergraduate enrollment for the 2011 fall semester.

Peterson made the comments as he welcomed the Faculty Advisory Council of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) to the University's Chicago campus, which held a regular meeting here Oct. 14.

North Park University is owned by the Chicago-based Evangelical Covenant Church, a growing, multi-ethnic Protestant church with more than 800 congregations in the United States and Canada. The University was founded in 1891 in Minneapolis by people of Swedish heritage who wanted a higher education institution for pastors and new immigrants, Peterson said.

The college soon moved to Chicago, and leaders purchased farmland for a campus. The city grew toward the campus, and with that growth came a host of immigrant populations from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East to the area. Since then, "North Park has been recruiting and working together with immigrant populations in their neighborhood," Peterson told the committee. "It's been this dynamic neighborhood. People say it's the most diverse zip code in the whole United States. We pay attention to that. We've done a lot to keep in contact with the neighborhood, and serve the schools and the families of the neighborhood." Of this year's entering class, Peterson said 53 percent are white, while 47 percent represent African American, Latino, Asian and international students. While diverse, a significant number of the University's students today are of Swedish heritage, Peterson said.

North Park University's core identity is that it is "Christian, multicultural and urban," he said.

"We're a Christian school that welcomes students from all kinds of faith and non-faith backgrounds. I think as we have clarified our profile, people found that very attractive. We have some conservative Muslim and Jewish families who are very comfortable sending their students here because they feel that we respect their faith positions and traditions," Peterson said.

Total traditional undergraduate enrollment for the fall semester is 1,929, the most in University history, he said, adding that with graduate, professional and adult learning programs, North Park's total enrollment is more than 3,200. The University restructured and lowered its tuition in 2004-2005 to reflect tuition students were actually paying, and interest in North Park has been rising since, he said. This year's record enrollment numbers are the result of such things as a stronger admission strategy, improved communication and better data entry, Peterson said. ACT entrance exam scores average 22.2 for entering students, compared to the national average of 21.1.

He said the University is raising funds for a new science and community life building through "Campaign North Park." About $31 million has been raised so far toward a $42 million goal, Peterson said. A new simulation laboratory to train nursing students was formally dedicated at the Chicago campus Oct. 14, he added.


For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.