Dr. Tod A. Burnett Announces Plans to Retire as President of Saddleback College

For Immediate Release: 
September 20, 2016
Mission Viejo, CA – Yesterday the Saddleback College community received a heartfelt message from President Tod A. Burnett announcing his plans to retire next summer after nine years of dedicated service and unprecedented accomplishments.

In his announcement, Dr. Burnett stated, “I am so very proud of Saddleback.  Together we have transformed our college to being a highly recognized and respected educational leader at the local, state, and national levels.  The impressive gains for Saddleback these past eight years are unparalleled, and we are firmly positioned for continued great success.  I believe that now is a good time for me, personally and professionally, to contribute my leadership skills and experience to another organization.”  

Dr. Burnett’s announcement further stated, “Today, Saddleback College is indisputably one of our state and nation’s preeminent community colleges, but getting us to this level of achievement was not easy.  It took our entire college community to grasp our vision and strive to achieve it.  It took countless hours, days, weeks, and months of work from our students, faculty, staff, management, and community to overcome the challenges of the past and create a future based on positivity, collaboration, and results.  I believe that we have created a unique culture of excellence at Saddleback, and the fruits of our labor will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of students and other members of our community for decades to come.”

Upon hearing the news, Academic Senate President Kim d’Arcy responded, “Best wishes to our President, Dr. Tod Burnett. The longevity of his career as president speaks volumes to his commitment to our college and our students. Saddleback College has become not only a ‘Great College to Work For,’ but is one that fosters an environment of collegiality and support. As we move toward our college's 50th Anniversary, it is clear how far Saddleback has come under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Burnett. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. ”

Scott Ferguson Greene, president of California School Employees Association Chapter 586, and Craig Connor, president of Classified Senate, jointly stated, “Dr. Burnett has been a driving force through a transitional and sometimes trying period in this great college’s history and has remained a tireless champion for inclusiveness and mutual respect.  Without hesitation, Dr. Burnett has been willing to meet with faculty, staff, and management to hear issues and to quickly find remedies to unforeseen challenges.  He has led the way for a culture change that brought more positivity and hope for student success, as well as a quality work environment for classified staff for years to come.  This is his legacy.” 

Associated Student Government President Lucy Hendrix said, “Dr. Burnett has been a champion of student involvement and engagement during his time as president. He has always been incredibly supportive of the Associated Student Government, respecting our role as a governance group of the college by including the students’ voice in the college’s decision- making processes. His leadership and care for our community has allowed for the growth of  many of our campus’ services, including the student life and VETS programs. Dr. Burnett has also been a wonderful mentor for many individual students.” 

In response to Dr. Burnett’s announcement, the South Orange County Community College District issued a press release that stated, “Dr. Burnett has led Saddleback College in achieving extraordinary goals, each year setting a vision with his state of the college address. Through his unique ability to bring people together, he has unquestionably grown the college’s capacity to serve south Orange County students and surrounding community. His skills have brought measurable contributions to the college’s organizational leadership, advocacy, fundraising, grant development, business and community partnerships, facilities construction and renovation, academic programs, and student success.”

Board of Trustees President Timothy Jemal commented, “Dr. Burnett has led Saddleback College in achieving outstanding results for our students and community. He has been a tireless advocate for Saddleback College and his substantial contributions will have a lasting impact on our District.” 

Interim Chancellor Debra Fitzsimons, who has worked with Dr. Burnett since 2011, said, “We appreciate Dr. Burnett’s visionary leadership at Saddleback College and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. He set a high bar of greatness for Saddleback College and our district.”

California State Assembly Member Donald P. Wagner, also a past president of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees, said, “Appointing Dr. Burnett as president of Saddleback College in 2008 was the best thing our board ever did for students and our community.  I am in awe of Saddleback’s tremendous achievements over the past eight years under Dr. Burnett’s leadership.”  

Dr. Burnett noted that he chose June 2017 for his retirement in order to effectively guide Saddleback through the rest of this academic year and facilitate smooth accreditation and leadership transition processes.  He said, “My vision for this coming year is consistent with my ongoing vision for Saddleback: to create a model community college for student success.  I am confident that our students, faculty, staff, management, and community will continue our highly effective teamwork, collaboration, and partnership, and this will be Saddleback’s best year ever.”   

Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College provides dynamic, innovative, and student-centered postsecondary education and training to the greater south Orange County community.  Having served more than 665,000 students since 1968, Saddleback College offers more than 300 renowned degree, certificate, transfer, and lifelong learning programs to help students succeed in reaching their personal and career goals.  For more information, please visit www.saddleback.edu.  

Published: September 20, 2016