Dr. Tod Burnett, the newest executive vice chancellor at Brandman University, has only been on the job a few days so we didn’t want to hit him with the hard questions just yet. But we did want to know more about him, so we asked him:
What would we be surprised to know about him?
He’s a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate, the first to earn a master’s and the only one to earn a doctorate, at least so far.
What’s a book he’s read lately?
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” It was the One Book, One College choice for Saddleback College this year, and he was fascinated by the story, the way it was written and how one woman could end up impacting so many lives.
Coffee or tea and how does he take it?
Coffee. He really likes it and already has plenty of energy, so he drinks decaf all day long with a little cream or milk.
What’s something that annoys him?
What higher education course has had the biggest impact?
Leadership 101 at Pepperdine University. “I loved it. I loved having a course that talked about leadership. That’s probably what kept me going.”
Who was his favorite teacher?
There were two: Ron Loveridge, the former mayor of Riverside who taught public policy and public administration at UC Riverside. “A wonderful man. He was a great mentor, a true educator and true public servant.” The second was his dissertation chair Farzin Madjidi who urged him to consider teaching. “Kind, selfless, humble and super smart, a perfect example of what an educator should be.”
Although he thought it was time to make a change after nine years as president of Saddleback College, it was really his already existing relationship with Brandman that made him take a new position. He served first on the advisory board for the School of Education as the Ed.D. program was being established and then as a cohort mentor to Ed.D. students in Irvine. And he helped build a strong partnership between Brandman and Saddleback College. But more than anything, it was the university’s commitment to nontraditional students, innovation and the chance to work with Chancellor Gary Brahm and the rest of the university.