Tag: diversity

February Viking Preview Day

Viking Preview Days offer you a firsthand taste of the North Park University experience by allowing you to connect with our community and learn about our vibrant student life. Viking Preview Days are an ideal opportunity for students to take the next step in their college journey and discover what makes North Park special.

-Attend “Coffee with Coaches” and learn more about Viking Athletics (optional)
-Explore our campus oasis on a tour led by North Park students
-Get all your questions answered about your admissions application and financial aid


Event Schedule

November Viking Preview Day

Viking Preview Days offer you a firsthand taste of the North Park University experience by allowing you to connect with our community and learn about our vibrant student life. Viking Preview Days are an ideal opportunity for students to take the next step in their college journey and discover what makes North Park special.

-Attend “Coffee with Coaches” and learn more about Viking Athletics (optional)
-Are you a first-generation college student? Attend a session designed just for you! (optional)
-Connect with faculty from your intended major
-Explore our campus oasis on a tour led by North Park students
-Get all your questions answered about your admissions application and financial aid

RSVP Schedule

Taste of the Pacific: Honoring Traditions of Pacific Island Students

The second annual Taste of the Pacific event featured singing, dancing, and storytelling celebrating the heritage of North Park University’s Pacific Islander students.

More than 100 students and faculty members attended the second annual Taste of the Pacific event December 1, a festival featuring singing, dancing and storytelling that celebrated the heritage of North Park University’s Pacific Islander students.

“We are far away from home, but we have created a home here; we’re not a club, we’re a family,” said Rakiiba Va’alele, one of the founders of the Pacific Cultural Association, the group that put on the event.

The performances were designed to showcase the cultures of several Pacific Island nations, including Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa.

“God and family—in that order—is the way of Polynesian Culture,” said Michael Conway, the event’s honorary speaker and also NPU’s head football coach. Conway and his wife, Beth, NPU’s project manager for student engagement, are longtime supporters of the PCA. “I’m thankful for you all, and I’m thankful for these young people.”

Throughout the night, students used song and dance to tell stories of their island nations’ cultures. Performers dressed in traditional garb, changing each time the audience “traveled” along to another island.

According to founders Va’alele and Leautea Faiai, the PCA’s vision is to see the Pacific Islander Community at North Park connected, empowered, and cared for academically, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and the Student Government Association. A portion of the proceeds from the $7 admission price went toward NPU’s tuition assistance fund for Pacific Islander students.

SGA Vice President, Anosh Wasker, said the event showcases the best of NPU.

“Events like these bring out what North Park stands for, which is being multi-cultural,” Wasker said at the end of the night. “They show their own culture, they preserve their own culture, but also help others experience their culture.”

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Committed to Faculty and Student Diversity: University Dean, Dr. Liza Ann Acosta

As University Dean, Dr. Liza Ann Acosta’s hope is to facilitate the work of faculty development—with a student body comprised of a diverse population and mirrored by a diverse faculty.

Portrait of Dean Acosta

“I am invested in the wellbeing of my students and my colleagues. Being asked to do more with little is overwhelming, but my colleagues’ dreams for our students are on my mind every single day. My wish is to make those become real possibilities.  An investment in our faculty is an investment in our students.”

Facilitating Faculty Development

As University Dean, Dr. Liza Ann Acosta’s hope is to facilitate the work of faculty development—with a student body comprised of a diverse population and mirrored by a diverse faculty, so that all our students can see themselves reflected in the people who teach them. A new mentorship program for first-year and ongoing rising faculty and a partnership with the Faculty Senate and Office of Institutional Effectiveness for the inclusion of adjunct faculty development are among the initiatives supporting Dean Acosta’s vision of having a well-rounded, diverse faculty at North Park.

Retention and Recruitment of Faculty of Color

Dean Acosta has initiated efforts to more effectively recruit and retain faculty of color who can and do impact the student learning experience through expertise, mentorship, and role-modeling. In these efforts, Dean Acosta advises and serves on search committees, advocates for faculty and staff of color, and leads monthly meetings for faculty and staff of color for community-building.

Helping Students Have an Enriching Intercultural Experience

Dean Acosta is encouraged every day by North Park students as she observes them make connections between classroom and world. “Preparing students to contribute in real possible ways—through the arts, life sciences, technology—is what we seek at North Park, with faculty who have a passion for planting a seed and watching students grow.”

At North Park, Dean Acosta continues to teach, advise, and mentor students. She is also part of the Council on Diversity Equity and Inclusion whose central role includes bias reporting. “I am always thinking of ways that North Park’s faculty, as a collective, can be even better in their respective specialty fields, and how we can help students have an enriching, intercultural experience,” said Dean Acosta. Academic programs are structured in a way to reflect both a rigorous learning experience in the classroom and experiential learning opportunities outside the classroom when engaging how the diverse city of Chicago functions and thrives.

Core principles guide Dean Acosta: encouraging creativity, providing resources for continuous improvement and innovation, documenting and learning from best practices in research and teaching, advocating for a diverse faculty, and nurturing professional development for all faculty members. Meeting the needs of both students and faculty is an ongoing process—a role that for Dean Acosta is always evolving.

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Student Blog: How the Black Lives Matter Rally Helped Me Realize My Privilege

Listening to his peers in a campus rally opened one student’s eyes.

This is a student blog post submitted by Stephen Nielsen, C’19. Stephen is an English major with a concentration in creative writing.

Listening to his peers in a campus rally opened one student’s eyes.

North Park University held a Black Lives Matter rally on campus back in November of 2016. The first of its kind on campus, it highlighted injustices faced by students of color. Students stepped up to the mic and told the stories of their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Having grown up in Denmark for most my life, I’ve been ignorant of the challenges facing people of color in America, and of the privilege afforded to me because of the color of my skin. I heard stories, saw the news, but never experienced it first-hand. I’m not oppressed, and I don’t find myself an oppressor, so it doesn’t affect me. I could watch from the sidelines, I could claim my ignorance, and chalk it up to my time spent in a foreign country; it’s not my problem. Emily Bourne, seminary student and resident director of Ohlson Hall says otherwise. “Oppression affects all of us whether we realize it or not; whether conscious of it or not. To hear another people group cry out and say their lives seemingly don’t matter; this should be something that we pay attention to.”

Although the civil rights movement made great strides for racial justice, profiling is still prominent in American culture. Black Lives Matter intends to expose the injustices facing black Americans today. “We’re not walking around in chains, but we still have a lot of things that are causing us to be held down in bondage, and to still have these systems of oppression,” remarked Jacqueline Strapp, director of diversity at North Park University.

I finally understood why racial problems still exist as I stood in Anderson Chapel, as it overflowed with an arresting array of faces. Why had so many entered this place of raw peace and genuine expression, gathered in the name of Christ? “Because change doesn’t happen without your participation, because it shows your support to those who are suffering, and especially because we’re a diverse community, it’s also empowering yourself to learn how to make change,” said Michael Emerson, Provost, North Park University.

There is work to be done, but making change isn’t complicated. Stephen Kelly, worship arts coordinator for University Ministries at North Park University says that “for there to be racial reconciliation it has to be a re-humanization.”

“Even if you don’t agree,” Strapp said, “you should at least listen,” because ignorance doesn’t solve problems. Choosing to ignore the social and racial injustices still affecting black people across the country won’t make the movement stop. I’m not saying that you must become an activist, I’m not saying that because these issues have deeply affected me, that they should affect you too. However, like Strapp told me, “be educated so that you can be informed when you choose a side. Don’t choose because it’s always been this way for you. Choose it because you have heard both sides, and understand why you are the way you are.”

The stories of injustice I heard from those who spoke and those I interviewed were horrible and troubling. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I want to change something, I want to help the current change happening across America; the change on campus. The opportunity to participate in Sankofa, a University Ministries led trip, arose and I accepted.

The account of my Sankofa experience will be the topic of a future post.

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A Message from North Park University President David L. Parkyn

Remembering who we are.

President David L. ParkynCHICAGO (November 15, 2016) — Many from our campus community gathered yesterday morning in Anderson Chapel for conversation. Our topics ranged widely from our individual and collective thoughts on the presidential election, to life on campus, learning together, and living together. Deep emotions were evident among us, including expressions of grief, fear, pain and uncertainty, alongside a desire to know how to care for each other. As university president I was pleased to be present and to participate, primarily by listening, as did many others.

I am grateful for the leadership of Provost Emerson and Vice President Koslow Martin in organizing the event. And I join the rest of our community in thanking the members of the panel which guided and informed our discussion: student government president Steve Smrt; professors Joe Alulis, Sarah Doherty, Rupe Simms, and Jon Peterson; and staff members Pam Bozeman and Jonathan Dodrill. The discussion was also strengthened by questions and comments from students and others from our community in attendance.

Where, now, should we turn to guide our life together going forward?

We turn in this direction: We remember who we are.

At North Park we hold to seven educational ideals—principles that shape learning on our campus. Though all seven are important, today I’m drawn especially to two.

First, at North Park we hold to an education that “embraces all people and celebrates the richness of cultural difference.”

All students are to be welcomed at North Park, no exceptions. The same holds true for members of our faculty and staff, with one caveat: as an expression of our Christian mission, members of our full-time faculty and staff are to be people of Christian faith.

Differences between us at North Park reach across culture and ethnicity, to be sure, yet they stretch much further than this. Our diversity includes where we come from, the languages we speak, our places of citizenship, our commitments of faith, political perspectives and preferences we embrace, gender and sexual identity and orientation, and much, much more.

Our commitment to embrace all people at North Park is rooted in our understanding of and commitment to the Christian gospel. In just a few weeks, Christians around the globe will celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The story of the incarnation reminds us of who we are, people welcomed by God who “was made flesh” to be present with us. Our responsibility is to “put on flesh” as well, to be present with each other, to be neighbors, to welcome, to walk alongside, to show love, to do justice and show mercy.

Second, at North Park we hold to an education that “encourages dialogue as a means of learning where open inquiry, integrity, and civility guide our life together.” All people are welcome at North Park so that we can talk together, and thereby learn together. There is privilege in this, yet there also is responsibility.

If North Park were a community in which we all thought the same and agreed on every question we would not need to worry much about dialogue. Conversation would be filled with perspectives much like our own. In such a setting we would not hear much from each other we didn’t already know or agree with, and as a result North Park would not provide a very rich or deep learning community. And through this kind of environment students would not be “prepared for lives of significance and service.”

By contrast, the people who comprise North Park are characterized by difference and diversity. This is how we want it—this is who we are. Throughout this school’s history, we have agreed that learning is enriched by the inclusion of a wide array of individuals and perspectives, and we have purposefully fostered this kind of community in our faculty, staff, and especially our student body.

At North Park each student (as well as faculty and staff) brings to our campus an anthology of life experiences—a personal story. Each story counts, it is a story to be shared, a story through which others can and will learn.

One challenge, of course, is that while differences of thought and perspective can lead to learning they can also lead to misunderstanding. This in turn can feed bias, and bias can sometimes give rise to responses which offend and are occasionally characterized more by hate than by love.

Interaction based on hate has no place at North Park. Our lives together and our conversations should radiate respect, civility of thought and speech, an embrace of love and care. Because we affirm difference as a university, it is essential that we each learn to live lovingly in this community. This commitment to be a community guided by Christian love was expressed eloquently by several members of yesterday’s panel.

The differences between us—regarding how we express faith, a relative position on a political continuum, sexual identity and orientation, ethnic and cultural norms, and a host of other topics, questions, and points of conversation—are real. Our differences will challenge us, but should our diversity be a force that separates us or can it be a course that draws us toward each other? At North Park we do not seek to eliminate difference and disagreement within the campus community, yet we do seek to draw people closer together—through inclusion, civility, dialogue, respect, hospitality, and a mutual love for God and all people.

We live together; we learn together; even as we worship and pray as a campus community. Let’s commit over the days and weeks ahead to remember who we are.

David L. Parkyn

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New Diversity Team Focuses on Intercultural Campus Initiatives

Alumna Jacqueline Strapp began as director of diversity this fall

jackie-strapp-copyCHICAGO (October 24, 2016) — In an effort to better serve its intercultural campus community, North Park University launched its strategic new Diversity Team this academic year. Consisting of University Dean Dr. Liza Ann Acosta, Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement Dr. Barrington Price, Director of Diversity Jacqueline Strapp, and Director of the International Office Dr. Sumie Song, the team will focus on student success and recruitment, as well as retention of diverse students and faculty.

Strapp, who joined the staff this fall, is a 2008 North Park graduate. Her return to campus follows the appointment of Acosta as University dean and the creation of Price’s new role over the summer.

Acosta works with deans across campus to create strategies for faculty development and diversification, while Price, formerly the director of student success, provides leadership for students to effectively navigate college transition and establish clear pathways to graduation. Song will now also guide global campus conversations within the context of the diversity team.

Strapp calls the University’s approach to diversity programming “cutting-edge.” Here, she shares her thoughts on what compelled her to return to North Park, how the Office of Diversity is expanding its initiatives, and how their work addresses everyone on campus.

North Park: What made you want to return to North Park as a staff member?

Jacqueline Strapp: Having the chance to come back to North Park and really make some changes that I wish were being done for me when I was a student was an amazing opportunity. So I jumped at the chance to do that. I worked for some great institutions before I came here, but nothing can compare to being back where you started everything. I have a vested interest in North Park.

NP: What are some of the new initiatives that the Office of Diversity will be pursuing?

JS: We’re going to have a real focus on student success. It’s something that’s worked very well for the COMPASS program, helping students get integrated into college life and providing them with success counselors. So we’re going to emulate a lot of those practices. My background is in student success, making sure we’re increasing retention rates, specifically with students who are of minority status. So that’s really going to be helpful for us.

We also want to talk about topics that maybe have been avoided in the past on campus. What I’m hearing from students in conversations and from the administration is that we’re in a climate where we can’t ignore things anymore, we can’t talk around it.

NP: What are some of the sponsored talks you’re hosting?

JS: We’re going to hit things head-on, and we’re going to do things like talk about Black Lives Matter; immigration; “Race and Politics,” an event we just held, focused on some of the racial tensions that have been expanding in our country, and what that means for students.

This relates to student success because it’s very difficult for students to be successful with a lot of these things playing in the backdrops of their mind. You can’t separate a successful student from their experience—it goes together. So we’re addressing these issues and giving students places to talk about them safely.

We’re going to make sure we have a wide spectrum of views, and give students a chance to voice things that they’re thinking about. The process of letting people hear from others that are different from them, and becoming informed on things that maybe they weren’t before, is going to be huge. So this is going to play out on our campus in a lot of different areas.



NP: How does the work of the Diversity Team differ from how we’ve approached these issues in the past?

JS: The Division of Student Engagement has been really intentional in making sure we’re giving focus to each one of the areas represented on the team, whereas before, it’s largely fallen only to the Office of Diversity. So now with me specifically focusing on students, Barrington expanding his programs, Dr. Acosta focusing on faculty and staff, and Sumie focusing on the greater global picture, I feel like we have a dream team. I’m excited about the role we’re going to play on campus, making sure that we’re keeping leadership informed about things that are happening, how what’s going on in the world is impacting our students, and the changes that they want to make.

We’re going to start off by making sure our approach is data-driven. We’re going to conduct focus groups, including a climate survey for diversity across the entire campus, and we’re going to use the results from these focus groups and surveys to influence what we’re going to tackle first.

NP: How does Dr. Price’s work in student success within Student Engagement interact with yours within the Office of Diversity?

JS: Barrington has done great work with the COMPASS program, and working withLighthouse and those cohort models. So our future-thinking is that we’re going to implement some cohorts and expand on what has already been done in COMPASS. They’ve done a great job of mentoring students—minority students, specifically—and encouraging their retention at North Park. I looked at the data and said, “Whoa. We’re going to have to emulate this elsewhere.”

The Office of Diversity is under Student Engagement, and we’re going to be more intentional about making sure that our efforts are the same. We’re going to expand programming, and some of them will be working directly with me.

The Diversity Team is about focusing our positions, and zooming in on these specific things. That’s the difference that I love about this job. When I first heard about it, I thought, “Wow, that’s very intentional.” It’s cutting-edge for an institution to even take the time to change the structure and think strategically in this way.

NP: What are some of the ways that work will be expanded?

JS: We’re not just focusing on creating groups and places of community for individuals of minority backgrounds, but we’re also focusing on educating students that are outside of the minority status on issues and sensitivities that they need to have in order for them to be successful as whatever they plan to do in the world. They have to learn how to work with people of diverse backgrounds.

So that’s something else that’s going to be very intentionally targeted. Our events will not just be for minority students, although we do still have those. We’re going to be intentional about addressing the entire campus.

Follow North Park University on Twitter @NPU. Learn more about North Park University.

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North Park Community Asks, ‘What Is Beauty?’

Author, reporter Natalie Moore calls students to ask challenging questions

natalie-mooreCHICAGO (October 17, 2016) — For more than a decade, North Park University’s Campus Theme program has been a key part of its undergraduate experience. Beginning in 2003, a yearlong series of events, lectures, and discussions has occurred across campus around a central question of the human experience. Meant to connect students from a variety of disciplines in a common pursuit, recent themes have included What is Truth?What Is Food?, and What Is Peace?.

This year’s theme, What Is Beauty?, marks the second year of a cycle in the Campus Theme series. Beginning last year, four questions—What Is Truth? What Is Beauty? What Is Good? What Is Sacred?—will be asked over four years. After that, the same cycle questions will begin again over the following four academic years.

“Since most undergraduate students are here for four years, our Campus Theme committee discussed the idea of a common set of questions,” said Dr. Karl Clifton-Soderstrom, associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Campus Theme program. “The shared experience of a single question happening across campus is essential to Campus Theme, and this allows us to enhance the shared experience across different classes and perhaps even generations of North Park graduates.”

The pursuit of What Is Beauty? is already underway. On September 20, poet and translator Mark Tardi spoke on “The Beauty of Mathematics and Poetry” in Nyvall Hall, and on September 23, Clifton-Soderstrom moderated a panel of alumni artists addressing beauty.

‘The Beautiful City’

south-side-cover-imageLast Friday, students, faculty, staff, and guests gathered in Anderson Chapel to hear from Natalie Y. Moore, WBEZ South Side bureau reporter and author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation.

Moore’s book The South Side is the University’s Common Read selection this year.

Moore’s lecture, “The Beautiful City,” was particularly meaningful for North Park, as The South Side is the University’s Common Read selection this year. The Common Read program, similar to initiatives like One Book, One Chicago, is in its fourth year as part of the Campus Theme. Through the program, incoming first-year students have a shared experience of reading the same book—selected based on the Campus Theme—and then gather throughout the year to discuss its meanings and implications.

“Chicago can be very tribal,” Moore told the audience, “which in some ways can be negative, but there are also a lot of positives about it. There are a lot of long-lasting, deep connections in Chicago, and I think we should celebrate that. There’s so much other beauty that’s on the surface and below the surface.”

Moore sees segregation as the defining issue of the region. “It’s more important than pensions, violence, or income inequality,” she said. “It’s the common denominator in many of the issues we’re facing here in Chicago. We can’t honestly talk about unemployment, crime, violence, or food justice without addressing segregation.”

So how does Chicago become a more beautiful city? By asking how it can become desegregated, Moore said. “Segregation can seem so intractable, so cemented. A lack of creativity continues to stifle Chicago and the greater metropolitan area. Until policies address exclusionary isolation, it will continue. This is about proximity to power and resources—we have to create just and fair standards.”

When Moore completed her book, she was more hopeful than when she began, she said. While “there’s no silver bullet,” many potential solutions have been offered, particularly within Chicago’s universities, like North Park, she said. “I am a person of faith, and I have faith in humanity. Chicago is beautiful. You can have strife and loveliness coexist. I love my city, and I always want it to do better.”

Events throughout the year

Campus Theme events will occur throughout the year, with most of them free and open to the public. Beginning November 4, the work of Milwaukee artist Lois Bielfield will be displayed in the installation “Beauty Conventions” in Carlson Tower Gallery. In the spring, the University will also welcome, among others, Dr. Reggie Williams of McCormick Seminary, addressing “Beauty, Identity, and Social Change.”

Other guests will include gospel musician Jonathan McReynolds; origami artist Robert J. Lang; Amazing Grace author Aaron Cohen; and Dr. Gabriel Richardson Lear of the University of Chicago, addressing “Beauty and the Good Life.”

More events related to Campus Theme will be announced throughout the year. Please visit www.northpark.edu/campustheme for updates and more information.

Follow North Park University on Twitter @NPU. Learn more about North Park University.

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Nonprofit Management Awards Announced at Axelson Center Symposium

Honorees include Muslim Women’s Alliance and Christopher House

axelsonCHICAGO (June 15, 2016) — For nonprofit professionals, it’s a familiar feeling: being proud of your organization’s work, but wishing you had access to the resources that would fulfill its mission more effectively. Particularly for the Illinois nonprofit sector, hit hard by the state’s budget impasse, questions of how to do a lot with a little are more relevant than ever. So when industry leaders gathered Monday for the 17th Annual Axelson Center Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers, they together explored maximizing those resources already within their organizations.

The daylong conference’s theme, “Mining for Gold: Uncovering Hidden Treasures in Your Organization,” emphasized highlighting the talents of the people within nonprofit organizations, and connecting them to trends within the sector for maximum impact. Interactive sessions throughout the day offered strategies to leverage opportunities and reinvigorate the way professionals look at internal resources.

In addition to breakout workshops on timely industry topics hosted by sector leaders throughout the day, the Symposium this year offered two new features: Ask the Expert, individual appointments that allowed for questions on a variety of specific subjects; and Ask a Funder, opportunities to connect with program officers at area foundations.

In her keynote address sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, speaker Kimberly Bryant challenged attendees to use what was unique about their organizations and “figure out a way in our work to create real change for the communities we serve.” Bryant is the founder and executive director of Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color to the tech and computer science world, with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts.

Named by Business Insider as one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology, Bryant grew Black Girls CODE from a local nonprofit serving only the Bay Area to an organization with seven U.S. chapters and one in South Africa. She was able to develop the organization by turning perceived disadvantages into advantages, Bryant said at the Symposium. “We focused on digging back into our culture, and tapped into the unique needs of our communities,” she said. “What I’m most proud of is how we’ve developed these girls as leaders. We’ve changed the conversation around tech and changed the lives of our students.”

The world puts people into boxes, Bryant said. But in the field of technology, people are taught to be disrupters. “Identify the pain points or things that make you uncomfortable, and work through them to make them your own,” she said. “If you’re still in the box as a nonprofit leader, it’s time to come out. It’s time to create change, and it’s time to get to work. Nonprofits play a special role in creating change in an equitable way. The time is now to realize the power that nonprofits have.”

Nonprofit Management Awards


The Axelson Center also announced the winners of its Excellent Emerging Organization Award and its Alford Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence at Monday’s awards luncheon. The 2016 Excellent Emerging Organization Award, presented to an up-and-coming Chicago-area nonprofit, was given to Muslim Women’s Alliance. The 2016 Alford-Axelson Award, given for exemplary nonprofit management practices, was presented to Christopher House, with an honorable mention awarded to Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

Muslim Women’s Alliance (MWA), the 2016 Excellent Emerging Organization Award winner, promotes the Islamic values of fairness, service to others, and community building. MWA’s core focus areas are development of women leaders, fostering community service, mentoring women to build confidence, and empowering the community through awareness and action on social issues.

“This is a gesture to us that we need to keep powering on,” said MWA Director of Organizational Development Suroor Raheemullah in her acceptance remarks. “A lot of the time, when you see things that happen like what happened last weekend, it can get defeating,” Raheemullah said, referencing the recent Orlando shooting and its possible connection to religious motivations. “I’m really honored to get this and continue to do important work. It is important that when you see us, you don’t fear us, but love us, because we love all of you.”

MWA received a $2,500 cash prize, sponsored by MB Financial Bank, a commemorative award, and a capacity-building package, valued at over $25,000, that will support improvement of services and efficiency. The Excellent Emerging Organization Award was created to honor organizations whose strength is apparent even in the early stages of existence, displaying sound management practices, innovation, and programming and leadership capabilities.

This year’s Alford-Axelson Award winner, Christopher House, provides education and resources to low-income children and their families to succeed in school, the workplace, and life. “In this environment, with a state budget crisis, this sort of investment and recognition of our hard work to get us to be a high-performing organization really means a lot,” Christopher House CEO Lori Baas said, accepting the award. “So thank you very much.”

The Alford-Axelson award honors and continues the legacies of Nils G. Axelson, a devoted community healthcare leader and visionary, and Jimmie R. Alford, a leading contemporary thinker and founder of the national consulting firm the Alford Group. Christopher House received a $5,000 cash prize and a commemorative award symbolizing the organization’s dedication to extraordinary managerial excellence.

axleson-3In recognition of their honorable mention, Elgin Symphony Orchestra CEO David Bearden said, “Winning is not about just getting an award, it’s in the process of learning who you are. So we thank this organization for helping us do that.”

The Symposium ended with the Make Your Pitch contest, in which a variety of local nonprofits made their case to a panel of judges for a $1,000 cash prize, sponsored by Wintrust Commercial Bank. Conference participants were invited to hear pitches and also cast their vote in support of the best pitch. The winning organization, Kids in Danger, works to improve children’s product safety, and received the prize after pitching the concept of developing and printing Spanish-language safety brochures.

For more information about the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, visit www.northpark.edu/axelson.

Follow North Park University on Twitter @NPU. Learn more about North Park University.

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North Park University Names Two New Deans

Liza Ann Acosta as University dean; Gregor Thuswaldner as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

acostaCHICAGO (June 2, 2016) — North Park University has announced the appointment of two new deans, effective August 15. Dr. Liza Ann Acosta will serve in the newly created position of University dean, and Dr. Gregor Thuswaldner has been named as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

As University dean, Acosta is charged with the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty across the University; faculty development; and hearing academic grievances and student appeal cases. The position reports to Provost Michael Emerson, and will be housed within the Office of the Provost.

Acosta, who earned her PhD in comparative literature from Penn State University, has been on North Park’s faculty since 2000, and will continue in her role as professor of English. For the past four years, she has served as division director and associate dean of humanities, arts, and social sciences. Prior to that, she served as director of humanities, and two terms as chair of the English department. She has held numerous additional leadership roles on campus and in the larger Chicago community.

In addition to her success as an educator, Acosta is an accomplished writer and performer. Colleagues, students, and alumni find that she has embodied and championed North Park’s values for the entirety of her professional career. She has been a strong, consistent advocate for the ethnic and racial diversification of the student body and faculty, and has served as a role model and mentor for many.

As part of her new role, Acosta will be working with the deans of the colleges, schools, departments, and other units on campus to create strategies for faculty development and ethnic diversification. She will also oversee the Teaching and Learning Cooperative, work with the Professional Development Committee, and develop faculty-mentoring programs to help faculty progress through each stage of their careers.

In accepting the position, Acosta said, “After 16 years at North Park University, I am honored to serve my colleagues and my students in this capacity, leading the way to a campus that lives its values of equity and justice, built upon a rich immigrant heritage and a foundational Christian tradition.”

“I can think of no one better situated to serve as the inaugural University dean than Liza Ann,” said Emerson. “She embodies everything this important position requires. We need imaginative strategies to continue diversifying our faculty, and we need careful, focused attention on faculty development and mentoring. To become the university we strive to be, elevating the centrality and care of our faculty is essential.”

Gregor Thuswaldner named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

thuswaldnerThuswaldner will serve as both dean and professor of humanities. A native of Austria, he has served as professor of German and linguistics at Gordon College since 2003. In his six years as department chair, he greatly diversified the department faculty, created highly successful major and minor programs, and substantially grew the number of linguistics majors.

So successful is Thuswaldner’s department that College Factual, in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, now rank Gordon as one of the nation’s colleges “Most Focused on Languages and Linguistics.” He is also the cofounder and academic director of the Salzburg Institute of Religion, Culture, and the Arts, a flourishing Christian liberal arts summer study abroad program. He has served most recently as interim director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon.

The new dean has a strong background in faith-based and intercultural higher education administration, and a track record of fundraising and obtaining research grants. He is a prolific scholar—he has published six books, numerous journal articles and book chapters, and translated two books from German to English—and an award-winning teacher. After just three years at Gordon, he received the college’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

“I am absolutely thrilled to connect with the Chicago community and join North Park University,” Thuswaldner said. “North Park’s three core values—Christian, urban, intercultural—deeply resonate with me, and as a fellow Covenanter, I am very impressed with the University’s heritage and trajectory. I look forward to collaborating with the faculty on a number of projects in order to heighten the visibility of the College of Arts and Sciences.”

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