CHICAGO (Jan. 3, 2019) – Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom has been appointed interim dean of faculty for North Park Theological Seminary, where she is professor of theology and ethics as well as director of the School of Restorative Arts. She succeeds Dwight Perry, who vacated the role in December to begin serving as provost of Moody Bible Institute.
Clifton-Soderstrom has taught at the seminary and led innovative programs on and off campus for 15 years.
She launched the successful partnership with Stateville Correctional Center, where incarcerated and non-incarcerated students study together to earn a master of arts degrees in Christian ministry. The program, offered through North Park’s School of Restorative Arts, focuses on positive race relations, nonviolent communication, deepening one’s faith, and servant leadership.
Clifton-Soderstrom hopes to dramatically transform the way the church and society as a whole handle conflict—to view it not as something to be avoided but as an opportunity to grow. “We live in a society that gives away its conflict and pays others to handle it, such as police or the legal system,” she said.
North Park University president Mary K. Surridge praised the professor, saying, “As interim dean, Rev. Clifton-Soderstrom brings to the entire North Park community her devoted connection to the Christian faith and hands-on commitment to a city-centered experiential learning curriculum and intercultural core values.”
Clifton-Soderstrom’s duties will include piloting institutional and structural changes to promote the university’s commitment to intercultural education and opportunities. She will work with university dean Liza Ann Acosta to develop a retention plan for faculty, staff, and students of color, as well as create strategies for increasing faculty in underrepresented groups. The effort will also support ongoing work toward intercultural proficiency in leadership and faculty over a three-year period.