The School of Nursing at North Park University has enjoyed a long and wonderful history. This history will be explained using the simile of a forest – probably a redwood forest. To grow a forest one must have a plot of ground and that plot was located in a residential neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago.
There must also be a nurseryman; that role was filled by the Evangelical Covenant Church whose members realized a need for access to health care and education. Over several decades, the nurserymen grew trees called hospital, diploma school of nursing and liberal arts junior college. Those decades continued to accumulate and the initial trees gave root to other trees.
In 1960, North Park College began to offer baccalaureate degrees and the strong limbs of liberal arts and sciences began to spread. Shortly thereafter a Coordinator of Nursing Education was hired and the School of Nursing tree began to develop. The baccalaureate nursing curriculum was initiated and the first 9 students graduated in 1968. Over the following year, the transition from diploma to baccalaureate nursing education was completed and the Swedish Covenant Hospital School of Nursing closed.
The School of Nursing tree has continued to grow and flourish so that it enjoys strong and stretched limbs. The major limbs include three programs: baccalaureate programs for pre-licensure and post-licensure students as well as a graduate and post-master’s program. As with any tree, multiple limbs arise from the trunk. So too does the nursing tree as we have a post-baccalaureate certificate program, three foci within the graduate programs, and dual-degree graduate programs. Milestones in our developmental history include:
- 1891: North Park College began in Minneapolis with two departments: seminary and commercial development
- 1894: North Park College moved to Chicago
- 1919: North Park College was established as a liberal arts junior college
- 1926: Initial NCA accreditation granted (continuously held since then)
- 1958: Four year curriculum initiated
- 1960: First bachelor's degrees granted; the College Board of Director's appointed committee to study need for a nursing major at North Park
- 1964: IDPR approved petition to establish a BS degree with a major in nursing; first Coordinator of Nursing Education employed
- 1965: Nursing curriculum accepted
- 1968: First 9 nursing students graduated
- 1969: NLN accreditation granted (NLN or CCNE accreditation continues since then)
- 1988: Kappa Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau established
- 1994: Master's nursing curriculum initiated
- 1995: Post-master's nursing program initiated
- 1996: Dual-degree graduate programs initiated
- 1997: Name changed to North Park University to reflect increased breath and depth as an educational institution