University Park is a village south of Chicago in Cook and Will counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. Located almost entirely in Will County, University Park has been the home of Governors State University since 1969. The village population was 7,129 at the 2010 census.
The village, one of the region's few planned communities, was known as Wood Hill, Park Forest South, and finally University Park
In the late 1950s, Woodhill Enterprises purchased land south of Park Forest for a large subdivision. Building began in 1961, but by 1967 Wood Hill had only 240 homes. Residents created a homeowners association, which fostered a community identity.
In 1966, Nathan Manilow, one of the developers of Park Forest, started to purchase land around Wood Hill. Park Forest had been a model for planning in the 1940s, and Lewis Manilow, son of Nathan, formed New Community Enterprises (NCE) to build "a whole new town". Major partners included Illinois Central Industries and United States Gypsum Company.
NCE supported the incorporation of Park Forest South in 1967 with projections for 100,000 residents. Under the federal New Communities Act of 1968, Park Forest South was designated as one of 15 such "new communities". Planning included space for residential, commercial, and industrial development and addressed the needs of education, recreation, and faith communities. Racial integration was a goal from the beginning, and Park Forest South became a leader in support of open housing.
Governors State University opened its doors in 1969.