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North Park and St Augustine Partner to Enhance Degree Programs

Presidents David Parkyn and Andrew Sund

CHICAGO (February 2, 2010) – North Park University has partnered with St. Augustine College to increase the accessibility of higher education to Chicago’s Latino and adult students.

On Thursday, January 28, North Park University President David Parkyn and St. Augustine President Andrew Sund signed an articulation agreement that would allow students from both institutions to benefit from course offerings at either location.

The agreement would ease the transition for students receiving associate’s degrees from St. Augustine who desire to complete their undergraduate studies at North Park. Likewise, students enrolled in North Park’s School of Adult Learning (SAL), the University’s adult bachelor’s degree completion program, will soon have the option to complete some of their coursework at St. Augustine. Because the private junior college is located just three miles east of North Park’s Chicago campus, it is an ideal satellite location for SAL courses.

The two schools are a good match, affirms Parkyn, who notes, “Our commitment to students is something we each hold very dear, and we each have something valuable to offer the other.”

Established in 1980 to serve the Latino community, St. Augustine was the first bilingual institution of higher education in Illinois, and continues to offer a dual-language curriculum. The school’s programs in culinary arts and social work are among its most popular, and the latter is St. Augustine’s sole bachelor’s degree offering.

Today, 86 percent of the college’s student body is Latino, and the majority are adults who speak English as a second language. Many are from low-income backgrounds and are the first generation in their families to attend college.

St. Augustine differs from traditional models of higher education, which typically require extensive English language training before ESL students can begin courses in core subject areas. At St. Augustine, students can take content classes in Spanish, their first language, while at the same time improving their English. As a result, many can earn their associate’s degrees far more quickly and affordably.

“Learning a new language is difficult, and when someone is first starting out, it’s very easy to become frustrated and to quit,” explains Sund. “Here at St. Augustine, students can discover their intellectual abilities and build confidence and self esteem. Being able to develop study skills in their own language makes a big difference.”

According to Sund, enrollment is already up 14 percent this semester, and that number may yet increase, he says. Given the current economic climate, he believes the growth is directly related to the quality of St. Augustine’s programs and the competitive pricing. Other personal touches make the college inviting—from convenient morning and evening class schedules, to the availability of childcare, to easily accessible and ample parking.

The partnership with North Park can only benefit both schools, he believes.

“There is a continuity between both institutions that is helpful,” Sund says, adding that he hopes St. Augustine alumni can inspire their children to be second- and third-generation college graduates. Many students may not think they can complete their associate’s degrees, but when they do, they are encouraged to take the next step.

“North Park University can offer our graduates that opportunity," he says.

Photo: President David Parkyn (left) and President Andrew Sund.