CHICAGO, IL (August 29, 2011) – North Park University President David Parkyn encouraged new students to “find your voice” as the university opened the 2011-2012 academic year during its annual “Welcome Convocation” last Wednesday.
New students and their families were also told that they are part of the largest incoming class in the university’s history.
Though final numbers will not be official until mid-September, preliminary figures show North Park University is expecting a record incoming class of approximately 680 students, said Nate Mouttet, North Park’s vice president for enrollment and marketing. Current numbers include 424 first-year students and 258 transfer students, both record totals, he said.
New students from 30 states are attending North Park this fall, Mouttet said. Forty-nine students from seven countries outside the United States also are enrolled. They join a large group of returning international students.
In his remarks, Parkyn spoke of the university’s voice of faith. “We take faith seriously at North Park. It’s an eclectic and inclusive voice of faith, to be sure, because this voice of faith is shaped and spoken by each member of the community.”
People come to faith by reading scripture, worshiping, and learning and living together, he said, but also by “walking the sidewalks of this city” and meeting people of faith from around the world.
North Park’s voice also is “a voice of the city,” the president said, pointing out that it doesn’t take long for North Park students to discover that “Chicago is our classroom and all Chicagoans are our teachers.” One half of the residents in the surrounding Albany Park neighborhoods were born outside the United States, and more than 150 languages are spoken by residents, he said.
Parkyn added that new students, living and studying in a diverse context, must now find their own voices. “This is your sacred obligation: to continue your life’s journey, to uncover who you are and want to be, to exercise your voice,” he said.
Judy Peterson, campus pastor, reminded the new students and parents of the one thing they all have in common – that no one knows what will happen in the next four years. Despite their intentions, career plans and relationships could change, she said.
“But no matter what happens,” she said, “God will never leave you. Not in the next four years, not in the next 40, no matter what changes, nothing can separate you from the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ.”
Students new to North Park moved into on-campus housing last week to participate in Threshold, the university’s multi-day orientation program. Fall semester classes began today.