CarterBaldwin Executive Search, together with Bethel University, is pleased to announce that Dr. Robin Rylaarsdam has been named the next Provost of Bethel University. With more than 20 years of experience in Christian higher education, Rylaarsdam has a proven track record of academic development, student success, and meaningful faith-learning integration—and she looks forward to bringing those skills to Bethel.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northwestern College in Iowa, Rylaarsdam went on to earn a PhD in molecular biology and genetics at Northwestern University. She served as a professor and administrator at a handful of Christian colleges before accepting a position as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, where she advocated for program development and expansion in graduate programs, improved undergraduate retention, and advanced diversity and inclusion efforts among both students and faculty.
According to Provost Search Committee co-chairs Tracy Reimer and Chris Moore, Rylaarsdam was chosen from a pool of more than 50 competitive candidates based on her extensive accomplishments, effective leadership, and commitment to liberal arts education. “Robin is highly relational,” Reimer says. “She has advocated for students typically underrepresented in higher education, and she excels at nurturing inter-university collaboration and developing external partnerships.”
Rylaarsdam was drawn to Bethel in part because of her own transformative experience as a student at a Christian liberal arts school — which she says was key in developing her faith holistically — and because of her passion for Christ-centered education as a whole. Having grown up in the Reformed tradition, Rylaarsdam has long believed in the importance of lifelong learning and service to God in every discipline and endeavor — a conviction consistent with Bethel’s mission, vision, and values.
While Rylaarsdam’s career has taken her beyond the lab bench, her scientific background has made her a curious, data-driven, and collaborative leader. She enjoys interacting with a wide range of disciplines, is passionate about developing educational approaches that uniquely serve graduate students and adult degree-completers, and deeply values the open exchange of ideas as a means of academic and personal growth.
About Bethel University
Founded in 1871 as a Baptist seminary, Bethel University is a private, evangelical Christian university in Arden Hills, Minnesota, and is supported by the churches in Converge (formerly The Baptist General Conference). Boldly informed and motivated by the Christian faith, Bethel educates and energizes men and women for excellence in leadership, scholarship, and service, preparing students to serve in strategic capacities to renew minds, live out biblical truth, transform culture, and advance the gospel. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,500 students, Bethel is currently the largest institution in the 13-member Christian College Consortium and among the top 20% in the 180-member Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.