History of BLC

In 1911, Bethany Ladies College opened with forty-four students and four faculty members, and a mission to educate young women. In 1927 the Norwegian Synod, later known as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), purchased the college. The ELS operated the school as a co-educational high school and junior college until 1969, when the high school department was closed. Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary began in 1946 as a department of the college; in 1975 it became a separate institution.

In May 1996, the Board of Regents resolved to start moving Bethany from an associate to a baccalaureate degree-granting institution. In the spring of 2001 Bethany entered a new era in its history by granting its first baccalaureate degrees.

Regardless of these significant changes, Bethany continues to offer a student-centered Christian liberal arts education designed to prepare students for this life and for life in eternity.

See collections of photos, records, and documents from Bethany's rich history in the BLC Archives.


Presidents of Bethany Lutheran College



Dr. Gene Pfeifer – Pfeifer was called as Bethany's tenth president in February 2015 and began his duties in July 2015. Pfeifer has earned degrees from Martin Luther College (B.A), The University of Wisconsin - Whitewater (M.S.), and a doctor of philosophy in education, curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota. Prior to assuming the presidency at Bethany, Pfeifer was President of St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Pfeifer also served as Professor of Education and Director of Clinical Experiences at Martin Luther College from 1993 until 2007. 



Dan Bruss, Ph. D. – Bruss was called as Bethany's ninth president in May 2002 and began his duties in January 2003. He has earned degrees from Bethany Lutheran College, Augsburg College, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Montana State University. Prior to his presidency at Bethany, Bruss had been a member of the faculty at Central College, Pella, Iowa, and Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany, New York.



Dr. Marvin G. Meyer – The Board of Regents called Meyer in November 1982. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Meyer had been a faculty member of the school since 1959. He retired in December of 2002.



Prof. Norman Holte – Holte received a call from the Bethany Lutheran College Board of Regents in August 1978 to serve as the first lay president in the school’s history. Holte had been a member of the Bethany faculty for 30 years prior to his presidency.



Rev. Theodore A. Aaberg – Aaberg was the president of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary when he was asked to serve as acting president of the college after Raymond Branstad stepped down. Aaberg served until March 1978 when a health complication prohibited him from continuing.



Rev. Raymond Branstad – Branstad was serving as pastor of King of Grace Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minnesota when he was called to serve as president of Bethany. Branstad took this post on July 1, 1970 and served until August 1976. Branstad has also been a member of the college’s Board of Regents.



Rev. Dr. Bjarne Wollan Teigen – Teigen became president of the institution in 1950. He served in the capacity of president for 20 years before moving back into the classroom in 1970 and continued to teach until his retirement. He was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.



Rev. Dr. Sigurd Christian Ylvisaker – Ylvisaker became the institution’s third president in 1930. He held a doctorate from the University of Leipzig, Germany and taught at Concordia College, St. Paul and Luther College in Decorah, Iowa prior to coming to Bethany. He served as president until 1950.



Rev. Walter E. Buszin – Buszin was also an ordained minister and a faculty member in the music department at Bethany. He served one academic year (1929-30) as interim president.



Rev. Holden Olsen – Olsen had been president of Bethany Ladies College, an institution owned and operated by the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association. The all-girl school was on the brink of folding when the Norwegian Synod purchased it in 1927. President Olsen served as the first president of the newly formed co-educational college. Olsen was president for the academic years 1927-28 and 1928-29.