University Mourns Loss of Former President Lloyd Ahlem

Former North Park President Lloyd Ahlem
Dr. Ahlem at the inauguration ceremony of President Parkyn, 2006.

Ahlem retained and expanded North Park’s strength and stability during challenging decade

CHICAGO (September 30, 2013) — Dr. Lloyd Ahlem C’48, president of North Park College and Theological Seminary from 1970 to 1979, died September 29 in Turlock, Calif., after a period of hospitalization. Ahlem, 83, served as the sixth president of North Park.

As president during a financially challenging decade for many colleges, Ahlem’s leadership was critical to establishing a firm base for North Park’s four-year undergraduate curriculum, granting approval for female students to be admitted to the master of divinity program, and setting the context for the decision in the 1979–1980 academic year to keep the school in its historic urban location. An athlete himself, Ahlem cheered the men’s basketball team to two NCAA Division III national championships during his time as president.

During Ahlem’s presidency, areas of career preparation for the undergraduate programs were broadened. Several new concentrations, including computer science, accounting, and public administration, were added, and a Sweden exchange program was launched. The Seminary added programs and students as the Evangelical Covenant Church voted to ordain women.

Students, colleagues, and friends of Ahlem’s were often struck by his open-door office policy, listening ear, and personal warmth. “Even before I officially became president at North Park, Lloyd reached out to warmly welcome me to this community,” said University President David L. Parkyn. “It had been two and a half decades since he had led North Park, yet he still loved this school deeply.”

Parkyn continued, “As president, I’ll miss Lloyd’s occasional pieces of communication and encouragement—an unexpected email message to introduce a prospective student, a phone call to inquire about the beginning of the school year, or a knock on my office door whenever he visited Chicago.”

A native of Minnesota and California, Ahlem graduated from North Park Junior College in 1948. While a North Park student, Ahlem was a member of the missionary volunteer group, the choir, the Seminary forum, the football team, and served as North Park College News cartoonist.

Ahlem earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from San Jose State College in 1952, a master of arts in psychology in 1955, and a doctor of education in educational psychology from the University of Southern California in 1962.

Prior to his presidency, Ahlem worked for eight years as an administrator and professor of psychology at California State University, Stanislaus, (then Stanislaus State College), Turlock, Calif. He served there as chair of the division of social science, academic senator, speaker of the faculty, and founder of the school’s basketball and golf programs.

President Lloyd Ahlem 1976
Dr. Ahlem, third from left, at the dedication of the Lina Sandell statue on North Park's campus, 1976.
Ahlem also served on North Park College and Theological Seminary’s board of directors from 1966 to 1970, including terms as chair of the College committee of the board and vice chair of the board of directors. A member of Turlock Covenant Church (originally Beulah Covenant Church), Ahlem also worked in student personnel services in Los Angels County before becoming president.

In 1976, Ahlem was knighted by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for his interest in “the preparation and enhancement of Swedish culture in America.” He wrote five books on psychology, including two during his presidency: Do I Have to Be Me?: The Psychology of Human Need (Regal, 1973), and How to Cope … with Conflict, Crisis, and Change (Regal, 1978). He also wrote a regular column for The Covenant Companion throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

After serving as president, Ahlem became director of Covenant Village, Turlock, Calif., under the Evangelical Covenant Church Board of Benevolence. He joined the County Bank, Merced, Calif., board of directors in 1995, and served as board chair for three years. Upon his retirement in 2002, Ahlem assumed the role of director emeritus.

Ahlem is survived by his wife, Anne, and their five children, Dan (Karen) C'79, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Ted (Gretchen) C'80, Broomfield, Colo.; Carol Eide (Timothy) C'83, Ventura, Calif.; Aileen (Bob) Callahan C'85, Mt. Prospect, Ill.; Mary Jo Lee (Jay), Turlock, Calif.; fifteen grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.

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