Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D.
A results-oriented leader with a distinguished public service career, Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D. has served as president of Saddleback College since 2008. As president, Dr. Burnett is the chief executive officer managing a $95 million budget and 1,350 employees that serve over 40,000 students each year from the south Orange County region. Founded in 1968 and located on 200 acres in Mission Viejo, Saddleback is one of the leading transfer and career technical education institutions in California offering 300 high quality degree and certificate programs.
Previously, Dr. Burnett was vice chancellor for the California Community Colleges—the largest higher education system in the world, with 112 colleges and over 2.5 million students annually. In this capacity, he coordinated implementation of the first system-wide strategic plan, led the first system-wide emergency planning and preparedness effort, and improved system-wide communication. He was also integral in facilitating a $70 million private philanthropic gift for student scholarships from the Bernard Osher Foundation which was the nation’s largest gift ever made to the community colleges.
In 2003, Dr. Burnett was deputy appointments secretary for the governor of California where he recommended and facilitated appointments to over 300 full- and part-time positions in state government including agency and department senior management and members of boards and commissions. Prior to the governor, Dr. Burnett served in the president’s administration as director of state and local government relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. In 1996 he served the mayor as commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works where he oversaw a $1 billion department with over 6,000 employees and directed the design, construction, and maintenance of the city’s public infrastructure and delivered vital public safety, health, and environmental services and programs.
Dr. Burnett has an extensive finance and management background in the private sector where he served as chief financial and operating officer of a law firm where he significantly improved operational efficiencies while increasing profitability. He was also vice president of a $20 million consumer products company, assistant vice president for Union Bank, and financial analyst for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Dr. Burnett has a long history of community service. He currently serves on the board of directors of the South Orange County Chamber of Commerce, California Community College Athletic Association, and Saddleback College Foundation. He also serves on the Southern California Army Advisory Council, Orange County Business Council Education Committee, Community College League of California Advisory Committee on Legislation, Brandman University School of Education Advisory Council, and 2-1-1 Orange County Advisory Council. Dr. Burnett is a member of many business, education, community, and professional organizations and is a frequent guest speaker at local, state, and national conferences, workshops, and symposiums.
Dr. Burnett is a strong proponent of youth leadership education and spent many years actively supporting Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, Inc. (HOBY), a national non-profit organization that seeks out, recognizes, and develops the leadership potential of high school students. Most notably he served as president of the California HOBY Board of Directors and in 1999 was selected among over 5,000 volunteers worldwide as the HOBY National Volunteer of the Year.
Dr. Burnett’s leadership and other accomplishments have been widely recognized. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University and Alumni Public Service Award from the University of California, Riverside. The Saddleback College Associated Student Government honored him with the Leadership Mentor Award and Betty Sherrer Spirit Award, California Student Veterans recognized him for outstanding leadership and continued support of veteran student success, and he was made an Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa. Dr. Burnett has received numerous resolutions from elected officials at all levels of government in recognition of his distinguished public service and commitment to higher education.
Dr. Burnett holds an Education Doctorate Degree in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University, Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Administrative Studies from the University of California, Riverside. He also has a Certificate for Senior Executives in State and Local Government from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Dr. Burnett is a first generation American and California native. He was born in Los Angeles County and currently resides in Irvine, California.