North Park University President Writes Booklet on University's Educational Ideals

Discovering our Voice booklet

Discovering our Voice includes essays by President Parkyn

CHICAGO (November 29, 2011) – Continuing a theme he first spoke of in his inaugural address as president of North Park University, Dr. David L. Parkyn has written a collection of essays focusing on the University's "voice" in the community and the world. The collection, Discovering Our Voice: Reflections on Learning at North Park University, addresses seven educational ideals that reflect the University's mission, vision and its three core values: Distinctively Christian, Intentionally Urban, and Purposefully Multicultural.

The booklet is expected to help the University tell its story to individuals and groups. For example, copies will be given to parents of students who have made commitments to attend North Park University as undergraduates, and it will be given to prospective employees.

"I believe a university has a voice," Parkyn wrote in the booklet. "Moreover, it is imperative that we reflect on our institutional voice – from the language we use to understand our work and life together as a learning community, to the stories we tell to explain our approach to preparing students for 'lives of significance and service.'"

In seeking to discover its voice, the University is guided by foundational statements that frame the seven educational ideals that characterize the education of North Park students "in the classroom and beyond," Parkyn wrote. They are:

  • An education rooted in and committed to the Christian faith and its sacred text, the Bible: North Park is a "borderland," Parkyn said, a place where adolescence meets adulthood, faith interacts with philosophy, and learning reaches toward both significance and service. The "deepest challenge" at North Park University is "to find a way to include in our hearts and minds the Christ who embraces those in the borderland, and those beyond as well," he said.
  • An education that engages Chicago as a dynamic context for learning and service: The resources and advantage of this "global city" are at the disposal of the faculty and each student, Parkyn said. "Chicago is our classroom, and all Chicagoans are our teachers," he added.
  • An education that embraces all people and celebrates the richness of cultural difference: To embrace all people and celebrate the life of each one with no exceptions poses a significant, complex challenge, the president wrote. "Nonetheless, at North Park, we are well-positioned to reach and to attain this ideal because we are Christian and urban," Parkyn said.
  • An education that embraces learning in all its forms – the in the classroom and beyond – as a gift, a joy, and a sacred obligation: Learning is lifelong, and it takes place best in the company of others, Parkyn said. People learn by telling their own life stories and hearing the stories of others. "Whatever we are privileged to learn is not meant to be hoarded, to be kept to ourselves, in isolation from all others. Whatever we learn must soon be shared, it must become a gift to others," he said.
  • An education that encourages dialogue as a means of learning where open inquiry, integrity, and civility guide of life together: Conversation in a community of difference is not always easy, but when people listen, they hear new things, the president said. The University does not seek to eliminate "difference and disagreement" in the campus community. "We do seek to draw people together – through inclusion, civility, dialogue, respect, hospitality, and a mutual love for God and all people," Parkyn said.
  • An education that seeks to form and transform the whole student (intellectually, socially, and spiritually): At North Park, education should engage the whole person, Parkyn wrote. "We embrace the responsibility to graduate students who love God and serve their neighbor as broadly as humanly possible – in heart, mind, and soul," he wrote.
  • An education that values each student for who he or she is, and will become: Education is an act of faith on the part of the faculty and staff, as well as students, Parkyn wrote. Faculty and staff count on students' promise and potential; students place their trust in the University faculty and staff. "Our aim is to be with the students for a while – to have hold of them today, so we can send them forth tomorrow; to serve them today, so they may serve the world tomorrow. This is our sacred obligation," the president wrote.

The booklet concludes with the text of the University president's inaugural address, delivered Nov. 12, 2006.

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Read more of the campus news featured in the Summer 2012 North Parker.