Bethel University has appointed Debra Harless to be its new executive vice president and provost -- the first woman to hold the high-ranking position at the Christian school in St. Paul.

Harless, who has served as the school's vice president and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since 2009, will be appointed provost subject to confirmation by the school’s Board of Trustees on Feb. 6 and ratification by the Bethel University Corp. in October 2014, according to a released statement from the school.

“I worked closely with Deb for eight years, seven of which we officed next to each other,” said Bethel University President Jay Barnes in the statement. “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.”

Bethel, which has close to 6,000 students, is affiliated with Converge Worldwide, formerly known as the Baptist General Conference. With the appointment, Harless becomes the highest-ranking woman at the school.