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North Park Recognized for Advancing Racial Harmony

North Park Receives Andringa Award for Advancing Racial Harmony

CHICAGO (March 12, 2010) – North Park University was recently honored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) with the Robert and Susan Andringa Award for Advancing Racial Harmony.

Established to recognize CCCU campuses that have “best practice” programs in areas of racial and ethnic diversity, the award acknowledges innovative and effective programs, partnerships, or other strategic initiatives that have helped to create a welcoming climate for ethnic and minority students. It was presented to President David Parkyn at the Council’s fourth international forum on Christian higher education, which was held February 23–26 in Atlanta and attracted more than 1,000 attendees from 123 campuses and 25 countries.

The CCCU acknowledged North Park for its commitment to “reaching across boundaries of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, and status in the cultivation of communities of life and service.” All told, North Park enrolls nearly 3,200 students from 40 states and 33 countries. Underrepresented minority students comprise 26 percent of the University’s student body, in addition to multiracial and international students.

Located in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, North Park has fostered relationships with a number of community and faith-based organizations, such as Casa Central, the largest Latino social service agency in the city. Casa granted North Park its Faith in Action Award last fall for its engagement with and service to the Spanish-speaking community.

On campus, several academic departments assist in sponsoring diversity, including the Office of Diversity and the Collaboratory of Urban and Intercultural Learning. Within the last year, North Park has hosted the Re-Centering: Culture and Conflict Symposium, the Chicago Latino Film Festival, and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, among other events. North Park also offers a variety of courses that contribute to students’ knowledge and comfort with diversity, from African History, to Culture and Identity in Korea, to the Politics of the Middle East, and more.

President Parkyn notes that the Andringa Award reaffirms North Park’s claim on a unique, ownable, and sustainable space in American higher education—one that is “distinctively Christian, intentionally urban, and purposefully multicultural,” like the University’s core values.

The results of the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) further solidify this claim. North Park markedly outscored 10 benchmark and about 70 peer institutions in the Enriching Educational Experiences category, in which between 50 to 75 percent of North Park students reported they “frequently have serious conversations with students who are different from them in terms of religious, political, or personal beliefs,” “frequently have serious conversations with those of a different race,” and “engage in spiritually enhancing activities such as worship, meditation, or prayer.”

Photo: President David Parkyn (left) pictured with Provost Joseph Jones and Robert and Susan Andringa (right), for whom the award is named.