With hundreds of well-wishers in attendance, Mary K. Surridge was inaugurated as the 10th President of North Park University Friday, February 15.
Founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church, North Park University is located on Chicago’s North Side and enrolls 3,200 students. President Surridge is the first woman to lead the school.
“Our dynamic Christian identity—centered in this world-class city of Chicago, distinguished by the rich tapestry of our intercultural student community, and dedicated to service—has never been more relevant or more imperative than it is today,” the president said in her inaugural address. “In a world where Truth and Ethics are in danger of becoming personally and situationally redefined beyond recognition, Christian institutions of higher education are absolutely essential.”
The ceremony began with a procession of international students bearing their countries’ flags, followed by a parade of 35 delegates from universities and colleges across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, Stanford. They were joined by professors from North Park, and together, wearing the multi-colored academic regalia of their various degrees and alma maters, they formed a sea of red, peacock blue, purple, and green.
President Surridge took the stage, flanked by a group that included alumni, trustees, and two previous North Park presidents.
The hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and friends of North Park watching the ceremony in person and via livestream were greeted by Chicago Deputy Mayor Bob Rivkin and John Wenrich, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Steven C. Bahls, President of Augustana College, brought a greeting on behalf of all ACI, CIC and CCIW Schools.
The investiture service included lively music from North Park’s student Gospel and University Choirs, as well as a ceremonial presentation of gifts to President Surridge by students, faculty, and staff.
Following the investiture by Owen R. Youngman, Chair of the Board of Trustees and of the presidential search committee, President Surridge was introduced by David G. Horner, North Park’s President from 1987-2004 and current President of The American College of Greece.
“Presidential leadership makes a difference,” Horner said. “I nominated Mary Surridge for the North Park presidency because, in my view, Mary’s personal skills, characteristics, and values match exceptionally well with this North Park moment, a moment to build on North Park’s historic mission and recent achievements engaging this era’s opportunities and challenges.”
He went on to call President Surridge a “true believer in the transformative power of a North Park educational experience, as well as the twin pillars of Christian faith and Chicago context that form the foundation of that experience.”
In accepting her investiture, President Surridge thanked President Horner and former President David Parkyn. President Surridge, North Park’s first female president after nine men, called attention to the photos of all 10 presidents in the program and said, “I am incredibly humbled and inspired by their legacy and will strive to live up to their example, even as our history has moved us, from bow ties, to neck ties, to pearls.”
She said that the mission of advancing North Park lies with not just one person, but the entire North Park community of students, faculty, staff, and friends.
“Together we comprise the faith, strength, mission, and values of North Park,” President Surridge said. “Together we will pursue excellence in all we do. This will encourage us, inspire us, and sustain us each day as we work to advance the mission of North Park University.”
Prior to becoming president, President Surridge served the University in a variety of roles, including vice-presidential responsibilities in advancement and undergraduate enrollment. Under her direction of Campaign North Park, President Surridge helped raise $63 million in commitments, including $41 million for the Johnson Center for Science and Community Life.
As an undergraduate student at Northwestern University, she played NCAA Division I basketball and graduated from the School of Communications. She also holds a master’s degree in student personnel administration in higher education from Concordia University.
President Surridge also was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Marquette University; an assistant to the basketball staff of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks; director of residence life and student activities and assistant women’s basketball coach at Concordia; and associate director of planned and major gifts at Northwestern. She currently lives with her husband, Jack, North Park’s longtime athletic director, in the North Park neighborhood. Their daughter, Jessie, attends Butler University in Indianapolis.
Following the ceremony, guests gathered in Hamming Hall for a reception. The event capped off a week of activities that included a 10k for $10k run for student scholarships; a special All-Campus Worship service; a women’s basketball game; an academic symposium; and a Showcase of the Arts, featuring performances by alumni and students.
ABOUT NORTH PARK UNIVERSITY
North Park University is a city-centered, intercultural, and Christian university located in Chicago.
Christopher Childers, Assistant Vice President of University Marketing and Communications, North Park University, 773-244-5750, firstname.lastname@example.org