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Oak Park Higher Education

Concordia - Serving the Mina and the Community

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Nestled among the shady, tree-lined neighborhoods of Oak Park and River Forest is the reputable Concordia University Chicago. Known as the university of choice for those seeking a Christian institution in the Midwest, Concordia has established itself as part of the fabric of the city of Oak Park by accentuating the city’s college-town, intellectual atmosphere and by collaborating with the community to improve the quality of life for students, residents and those in need.

Concordia University Chicago is a member of a nationwide network of colleges and universities of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Here, students obtain a liberal arts education through programs centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The university offers undergraduate, graduate and professional programs aimed at serving the needs of society and advancing the mission of the Church.

Founded in 1864 in Addison, the university moved to its current 40-acre campus in River Forest in 1913. Since then, the campus has become a suburban landmark, while the university itself has developed a close relationship with the community where residents and students alike have access to all the amenities of the city and the school.

According to Michelle Fregoso, director of community and media relations for Concordia University Chicago, the Oak Park community and its close proximity to the city of Chicago is a major draw for students nationwide and internationally. Restaurants, coffee shops, galleries, theaters, parks and upscale, trendy neighborhoods are a superb backdrop for the educational and service opportunities that await students.

“The Oak Park/River Forest area is safe and has so much to offer our students and staff alike.”

The university maintains a cordial relationship with the community through service programs and by offering use of its facilities to local residents.

Students of Concordia annually assist in large-scale community food drives in an effort to supply the Chicago area and DuPage County food depositories. Members of the university also work with Chicago-based organizations such as Bethel, Marillac House, PADS, the Center for Economic Opportunity, Larche, and Misericordia, among others. Additionally, the university participates in campus and area beautification projects.

“Concordia students, even as early as incoming new freshmen, are regularly involved in mission work and service leadership initiatives throughout the greater Chicagoland area and beyond,” said Fregoso. “This commitment to service earned Concordia University Chicago a place on the first-ever President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes Concordia University for extraordinary and exemplary contributions to meeting critical local and national needs through community service and service-learning.”

The campus regularly hosts athletic events for area schools and residents are welcome to make use of the track, pool and athletic and theatrical summer camps. The community is often invited to many of the school’s entertainment events.

“At any given time, you can find a dozen or so folks from the community out walking or jogging on our track. We like being able to provide this to our neighbors,” said Fregoso.

Concordia’s track is something special, as well. In keeping with service-based values, the university proves to be eco-friendly, as its track is one of the first athletic facilities to employ technology that creates track and field materials using rubber waste from recycled Illinois automobile tires. Though costly at first, the maintenance is cheaper than a traditional field and, as the first football field of its kind in the state of Illinois, some of the cost was assisted by a grant from the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Today, many athletic facilities are using this technology.

The blending of the community and campus-life creates a productive learning environment for Concordia’s students. To its credit, Concordia graduates more public school teachers than any other private college in the state of Illinois. At least 10 Concordia alumni have received the Golden Apple Award, which recognizes Illinois’ teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession.

Additionally, students interested in becoming church professionals are well prepared by Concordia’s program as it is committed to supporting the worldwide growth of the Christian Church. The education a student receives at Concordia leaves them well prepared for service in the workplace, church, and community.

Altogether, the partnership between Concordia and Oak Park is not only symbiotic, but cherished. By working together, residents and students are able to assess the needs of the community so that it remains the beautiful, historic and quaint city for which it is so reputed.

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