Northern Seminary Announces Expansion Plan To Transform Theological Education
New Learning/Teaching Centers Designed to Meet the Needs of Seminary Students for Decades to Come
Building on its 100-year history, Northern Seminary today announced an ambitious expansion plan to set a new standard in theological education with the opening of two learning centers, the creation of new academic programs and enhancements to its Northern Live program that connects leading biblical scholars to students around the world.
As part of its expansion plan, Northern will move from its Lombard location in Chicago’s western suburbs to a new state-of-the art center in nearby Lisle. In addition, the Seminary announced it will establish a new Center on Chicago’s South Side, offer new programs at its existing Lawndale Center on Chicago’s West Side and expand its Northern Live program, which enables students around the world to participate in classes through live-streaming technology.
For the past year, Northern has undertaken a thoughtful and thorough assessment to determine the best course for the future. We emerged with a strategic plan that forges a long-term sustainable path, focusing our resources on meeting the complex needs of today’s students and congregations, while reinforcing our core values. After more than 50 years in Lombard, our pilgrimage calls us to make Northern more accessible, affordable and contextual for a changing world.
— Bill Shiell, President of Northern Seminary
The Lisle Center will greatly improve and upgrade Northern’s facilities. Students will enjoy a cutting-edge learning environment that includes high-tech classrooms, modern instructional and research spaces and inviting common areas that will encourage fellowship and discussion. The new Center will open for the 2017-18 academic year, which begins in September.
Northern will also open its new South Side Center in Chicago this fall, in partnership with New Life Covenant Church Southeast. The South Side Center will focus on urban-based ministry and will offer a new master’s program in Urban Leadership.
In addition, Northern will expand its popular Northern Live program, which enables students to learn and participate in classes with Northern’s nationally recognized faculty via live-streaming, without leaving their homes and faith communities. Over the next few years, Northern also plans to develop a fully online Master of Divinity program that will be offered through Northern Live.
As part of its expansion, Northern is also broadening the curriculum offered at its Lawndale Center on Chicago’s West Side, including new courses in its Doctor of Ministry in Christian Community Development program.
Northern’s expansion will also enable the Seminary to improve the student experience by:
- Increasing access to scholarships and bolstering student services – from the admissions process to graduation and placement in ministry.
- Strengthening Northern’s commitment to diversity and inclusion to ensure that all students thrive, grow and serve the church.
- Enriching Northern’s partnerships to train innovative leaders and prepare future leaders who will faithfully pastor with evangelical passion and missionary skills.
- Continuing to develop new degree and leadership programs to meet the evolving needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s congregations.
Northern first opened its doors to future pastors in Chicago in 1913. The Seminary moved to Lombard in 1963, with the Rev. Billy Graham delivering the keynote address at the dedication service. In 2008, Northern partnered with Lawndale Community Church and the Christian Community Development Association to open its Lawndale Center on Chicago’s West Side.
“We’ve listened to and capitalized on the creative input we’ve received from students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees to chart a path for the Northern community to build upon its core values and traditions to become stronger and more vibrant,” Shiell added. “We must recognize and meet the challenges ahead of us to ensure that we provide seminarians with the knowledge and skills they need to lead the congregations of tomorrow.”
“This is the most important point in Northern’s history,” said Karen Walker Freeburg, the Seminary’s vice president of academic affairs. “This expansion will prepare our students to lead the church and engage the world, wherever they are called to serve.”