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Nyvall, David, 1863-1946


January 19, 1863 - February 6, 1946

Born in Sweden, the son of a colporteur and leader of the Covenant Movement in Sweden. He immigrated to America in 1886 at the age of 23; he settled in Illinois and soon became in involved in the nascent denomination in the States. Though his educational background was pre-med, he accepted E. August Skogsbergh's offer to teach at his school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1887 he married Skogsbergh’s sister Louise and served a year as pastor to a church in Sioux City, Iowa. The next year he began teaching in the Swedish department of the Chicago Theological Seminary, which at the time provided the theological education of many Covenant pastors.

Nyvall felt strongly that the Covenant should have its own school. Acting on this conviction, he resigned from the Chicago Theological Seminary and returned to Skogsbergh's school in Minneapolis, which the Covenant had recently accepted as the denomination's school. Three years later this school was moved to Chicago, and North Park College was established, a decision that upset some, including Nyvall's brother-in-law, Skogsbergh.

Nyvall served as president of North Park and professor of New Testament in the Seminary. Under his leadership and guidance, the school survived struggles and grew in both enrollment and endowment. Largely as a result of criticism and disagreement about the infamous Gold money, Nyvall resigned as president and professor in 1904 and left the school the following year.

David Nyvall was North Park’s first president. He served as president from 1891 to 1905 and from 1912 to 1923, a total of twenty-five years. Nyvall was born in Sweden in 1863 and emigrated in 1886. He also served as president of Walden College (a college started by Covenant churches in Kansas) from 1905 to 1908 and was the inaugural professor of Scandinavian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington from 1910 to 1912.

David Nyvall resigned as president in 1905, and A.W. Fredrickson served as the second president of the school until his untimely death in 1909. Rev. Carl Hanson was called to teach in the seminary and served as acting president for two years, 1909-1911. C. J. Wilson served as acting president during the 1911-1912 academic year.

Nyvall accepted the call to return as president in 1912. English had replaced Swedish as the primary language of instruction in the seminary by 1913, although classes devoted to the study of the Swedish language were added to prepare ministers who would serve in churches where they would be expected to preach in Swedish. By 1920 a preparatory class in Swedish was required for all entering seminary students and continued to be a requisite until 1950.

The gymnasium-auditorium building (now Hamming Hall) was added to the campus in 1916. Critics of the project condemned athletics as worldly and incompatible with a Christian lifestyle. They referred to the building as a “gym-house” or “Nyvall’s playhouse.” Supporters of the project referred to the building as an auditorium instead of a gymnasium and emphasized its educational benefits, because it provided larger space for worship and additional facilities for the music department.

The departments at North Park gradually changed. The junior college department was re-established in 1919, and a Bible Institute was added in 1921. The primary department closed in 1924. The commercial department closed one year later, and its classes were incorporated into the academy and the junior college.

After 1923, Nyvall continued to serve North Park and the Covenant by acting as dean of the Seminary and teacher until 1941.