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Tod Burnett

Tod A. Burnett

Executive Vice Chancellor of Advancement and Special Projects





Dr. Tod A. Burnett is a visionary and performance-driven leader with a distinguished career in the higher education, government, business, and non-profit sectors.  Dr. Burnett is executive vice chancellor at Brandman University where he oversees advancement and special projects expanding strategic partnerships that benefit the university and enhance student success. 

Dr. Burnett served as president of Saddleback College from 2008 to 2017 where he collaboratively led the college’s transformation to one of the preeminent higher education institutions in the U.S., annually awarding over 3,000 degrees and certificates and transferring over 3,800 students to hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the nation.  As the eighth largest community college in California, Saddleback has over 1,300 faculty and staff and $150 million annual budget serving nearly 40,000 diverse students each year. ranked Saddleback as the number one community college in California in 2015 and The Chronicle of Higher Education recognized Saddleback as a “Great College to Work For” in 2016.

Prior to Saddleback, Dr. Burnett served as vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges—the nation’s largest higher education system with 113 colleges and over 2.3 million students—overseeing implementation of the system’s first strategic plan and leading the system’s first emergency planning and preparedness effort.  He also helped facilitate a $25 million endowment gift and $25 million matching gift from The Bernard Osher Foundation to support student scholarships at every community college in the state, which was the largest single contribution ever made to a community college system in the country.   

Dr. Burnett has the unique distinction of having served full-time appointed positions in the administrations of a U.S. president, governor, and mayor.  He was director of state and local government relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and deputy appointments secretary for the governor of California.  He also served as a commissioner for the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, which was responsible for maintaining the city’s public infrastructure and providing public safety, health, and environmental programs with over 6,000 employees and $1 billion annual budget.

Before entering full-time public service, Dr. Burnett was a financial and management professional having worked at Union Bank, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and several small companies and entrepreneurial ventures.  He also was president of the board of directors of a small start-up company that developed several technology patents which sold for a significant sum.

Dr. Burnett is a first generation American and first generation college graduate who strongly believes in the American Dream by promoting educational opportunities and economic prosperity for all, emphasizing support for disadvantaged and underrepresented students.  His passion for education and leadership began 25 years ago through his active involvement with the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) program, whose mission is to inspire and develop a global community of young people dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. 

Dr. Burnett has a long history of community service and his numerous accomplishments have been awarded and recognized at the national, state, and local levels.  Currently he serves on several boards including the Orange County Development Board, South Orange County Economic Coalition, Tilly’s Life Center, 2-1-1 Orange County Advisory Council, and Pepperdine University Alumni Leadership Council.

Dr. Burnett holds an Education Doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University, Master of Business Administration from University of Southern California, Bachelor of Arts in political science from University of California, Riverside, and Senior Executives in State and Local Government Certificate from Harvard University. 



  • Advancement
  • Economic and Workforce Development
  • Higher Education
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Organizational Leadership

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