January 22, 2013 | 12:37 p.m.
By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications
After positive feedback from faculty and administrators, Bethel University President Jay Barnes has appointed Debra Harless to be the new executive vice president and provost of the university. Harless has served as vice president and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences since 2009. Her appointment as provost will be subject to final confirmation by the Board of Trustees on February 6 and ratification by the Bethel University Corporation in October 2014.
“I worked closely with Deb for eight years, seven of which we officed next to each other,” says Barnes. “She is a proven leader, team builder, administrator, and advocate for Bethel’s mission. She is an example of what we hope a Bethel graduate will be. Deb has the qualifications we need and the proven capacity to move Bethel forward.”
Harless ’83 graduated from Bethel with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and French. She then received her master’s and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. “As a Bethel graduate, I am grateful for the profound impact that Bethel had in my life,” Harless says. “I was blessed by Bethel faculty members who encouraged me in my academic work and pushed me to consider graduate studies. My time at Bethel also required me to think about what I believed as a Christian and why. My faith development was nurtured within my academic studies and relationships with faculty, as well as through my broader Bethel experiences.”
She returned to Bethel in 1989 to teach in the psychology department. She also served as the co-director of the Academic Enrichment & Support Center and as a counselor in Bethel's Counseling Services. In 2001 she became dean of academic programs in the College of Arts & Sciences at Bethel, a position she held until 2008 when she became acting provost of the university for one year. “I never imagined that God would lead me back to Bethel to serve as part of the faculty and administration,” she says. “I was drawn to return because of the way my life was transformed at Bethel. I am excited for this new opportunity to work with all of our educational programs across the university as we seek to transform students' lives in ways that matter for God's kingdom.”
As a professor at Bethel, Harless taught courses in statistics and experimental design, adolescent and adult development, tests and measurements, and Christianity and Western Culture. At the Graduate School, she taught and developed courses as well as served as thesis advisor for a number of graduate students.
She has been married to Mark Harless for 30 years and is the mother of sons Mason, 21, and Duncan, 17. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and was recently elected to the Board of Stewards of the Minnesota Iowa Baptist Conference (part of Converge Worldwide). She has been a member of a Converge Worldwide church for a number of years and is currently a member of Cornerstone Church in Crystal, Minn.