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Johnson Center Construction Phase Begins at North Park University

Groundbreaking for the Johnson Center at North Park University.
University leaders celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Johnson Center October 26. With them are the two people for whom the building is named: Nancy, center, and G. Timothy Johnson, fourth from the right.

Hundreds attend groundbreaking ceremony to honor Nancy and Tim Johnson

CHICAGO (October 29, 2012) — With hundreds of North Park University supporters looking on in person and via webcast, the University marked the start of construction October 26 for a significant, new University building — the Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, expected to be completed for the start of the 2014 academic year.

The 101,000-square-foot Johnson Center will house academic departments in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and mathematics; plus it will have technology-enhanced classrooms and state-of-the-art laboratories. It will also house student services such as Career Development and Internships, International Student Services, Residence Life, Student Development, University Ministries, as well as a café, study lounge, prayer room, a two-story atrium, and lobby gathering area.

Science students will benefit the most academically from the new Johnson Center, which will house state-of-the-art science laboratories, and research space and classrooms. The new facility, however, will benefit all in the University community, said Dr. David L. Parkyn, North Park University president. "By combining classrooms and laboratories with student-life offices, and gathering spaces and a food venue — by gathering those things together, this building will create a central campus core. It will do so for all of our students — residential and commuting, undergraduate, graduate, seminarians — everyone who studies at North Park University into the future will benefit from this wonderful building."

The Johnson Center will be a "transformational" facility, said Mary Surridge, vice president for development and alumni relations. "It is the deep and broad generosity of North Park alumni and friends that has brought this dream to reality. Our alumni and friends knew that our students were depending on them, and they have responded in a very generous manner," she said.

Alumni Nancy and Dr. Tim Johnson, for whom the building is named, were honored at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Obviously, Nancy and I are deeply honored to be recognized by the naming of this building," said Tim Johnson, ABC News' longtime medical editor, and now, the network's senior medical contributor. "This honor goes way beyond the two of us, and as I look over the wonderful gathering and see so many familiar faces, I'm reminded of how much North Park has meant in my life, Nancy's life, and our life together. Truly this is an honor, and we're so thrilled to have our family and my grand-kids here for this day. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this very great honor," he told the crowd assembled for the groundbreaking.

Johnson holds degrees from North Park College and North Park Theological Seminary. Nancy Johnson was trained as a nurse at the Swedish Covenant Hospital School of Nursing, Chicago, including study in the sciences at North Park. Both have served the University in many ways, including Tim Johnson's recent role as co-chair of Campaign North Park, which led fundraising for the new building and other University initiatives over the past three years. Construction of the Johnson Center is supported by a $42 million component of the campaign. David Helwig, campaign co-chair and chair of the University board of trustees, thanked Johnson for his "tireless" work to make the building project a reality.  

Following the groundbreaking ceremony, supporters of Campaign North Park attended a reception in Hamming Hall and viewed a video about the building project. A University Choir concert in Anderson Chapel concluded the day's events.

North Park University is providing a live, continuous video feed of the Johnson Center construction.

Faculty, students comment on historic building project

"It's awesome," said Dr. Jonathan Rienstra-Kiracofe, chair of the University's Chemistry Department. "Over the past three weekends, I've had a chance to visit three different college campuses, and I was able to be in each of their science buildings. I'm convinced that what we're putting together here is as good, and actually a step ahead of, what they have in each of theirs. So, I'm very excited about it."

At least seven Chicago-area high school students who expressed an interest in science study at North Park accepted the University's invitation to attend the groundbreaking. Their visit included a personal meeting with Tim Johnson.

Current North Park students in other disciplines expressed excitement about the Johnson Center. Emily Rueping, a junior politics and government and history major from Chicago, noted that the Johnson Center will provide "a common area" for students and faculty to interact. "That's something we really need. It will be very beneficial to students, faculty and others who will get to use it," she said.

"It was cool to see everyone come together and get excited about the new things going on at North Park. I love North Park, and I always think it's great when we're doing something to make the school better," said Kim Hanson, Sacramento, Calif., a junior education major.


Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. 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.

Next Steps

Learn about the evolution of the Johnson Center project.

View photos from the groundbreaking celebration.