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Nelson, Clarence A., 1900-1971



  • Existence: 1900-09-08 - 1971-07-21

Clarence Nelson became president of North Park in 1950 and served until he became president of the Evangelical Covenant Church in 1959. Nelson came to North Park from Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, a Covenant high school operated by the Northwest Conference. Nelson was president of Minnehaha Academy from 1943 until 1950.

Clarence Nelson had two goals when he became the fourth president of North Park in 1950: to expand the seminary into an accredited graduate institution and to expand the junior college into a four-year liberal arts college. The seminary upgraded its requirements and became an associate member of the American Association of Theological schools in 1954. It granted its first bachelor of divinity (now master of divinity) degrees in 1957. The college expanded its curriculum, and the college’s first senior class received bachelor’s degrees in 1960. The Bible institute (which was renamed the department of religious education in 1951) and the music department became part of the college when the college became a four-year institution.

New buildings and additional land were required to expand the schools, but the community had become fully developed, and land was expensive. North Park briefly explored the possibility of relocating the campus to a fifty acre site located on Touhy Avenue in suburban Niles. The board of directors estimated it would cost $7 million to construct buildings at a new campus compared to $1.5 million needed to build a new library and gymnasium on the present campus and decided the school should remain in Chicago.

North Park began acquiring land around the campus. Sohlberg Hall, a dormitory for women, was built one block west of the campus in 1951 and Burgh Hall, a dormitory for men, was built on a newly acquired triangle of land south of the river in 1956. Homes on the west side of Spaulding between Nyvall Hall and the Lundholm building were purchased and demolished, and the land was used to construct the Wallgren Library-classroom building in 1958. The president’s home was remodeled into an administration building in 1957, an athletic field was built two blocks east of the campus in 1958, and the new gymnasium-auditorium opened in 1959.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Clarence Nelson

Identifier: 1/2/5
Scope and Contents Contains records and correspondence from Clarence Nelson's presidency of the Covenant Church (1959-1967).