Dordt University alumni Dr. Richard Vyn returns as a new agriculture professor

Georgia Lodewyk—Staff Writer

This year Dordt University welcomed a new agriculture professor, Dr. Richard Vyn, to campus. Vyn, a Dordt alumni, is teaching new agri-business courses this semester. Before Vyn, his wife, and four kids landed in Iowa, he worked for the department of agriculture in Alberta and University of Guelph in Ontario. 

“God works in ways that you don’t expect,” Vyn said. “Even coming here. It’s not something I had specifically planned, but when the opportunity came up, it just seemed to be the right time to do something like this… I’m really happy to be here. I love the community.”

Vyn said that being back at Dordt reminds him of college memories. As a graduate of the 1998 class, he remembers the days when the Campus Center was called the student union, when the “campus green” was additional parking, and when cookies were served at chapel. Vyn’s favorite memories include his role on the hockey team, especially traveling an hour to practice at the rink.

“It’s very interesting coming back after being a student here, there’s been a lot of change and a lot of good,” Vyn said. “Just being at an institution where there’s a higher calling and higher purpose. And it’s evident all the way through.” 

Vyn said Dordt’s integration of faith was one of the distinguishing aspects that he missed at the other universities where he’s taught. He is excited to bring those elements into his teaching and be involved in the growth of Dordt’s agriculture department, especially as they look to expand their agri-business program and the Agriculture Stewardship Center.

“We really benefit from having the Agriculture Stewardship Center… there’s a lot of potential for applied learning aspects,” Vyn said. “We’ve got to make sure that it’s used in a productive way for them (students). I just think with the growth that’s happening there, there’s a lot of great potential.”

For Vyn, who grew up on a farm in Canada, agriculture has always been something that has fascinated him, and a love of numbers and math drew him to being involved in the agri-business field. A great positive of this field is the variety of areas students can go into: from agricultural loan officers, to big agriculture corporations, to sales. 

Vyn said this also creates potential challenges for ag business professors; it’s their job to prepare students for the wide range of job opportunities they could find themselves in, and for the ever-changing and evolving nature of agriculture. 

Nevertheless, one of Vyn’s greatest joys of teaching is seeing students foster the passion they have for their field of interest. 

“When they’re passionate for what they do, they can use the passion to truly make a difference in the agriculture industry,” Vyn said. “Whether it’s on the farm or working for a big ag business.” 

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