Thomas Burns, Ph.D.
A chemist and lifelong educator with an extensive résumé in higher education administration, Dr. Thomas Burns became the fifth President of York College in July 2023.
Prior to joining the York College community, Dr. Burns served as provost of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee from 2011 until May 2022. He oversaw academic affairs, enrollment, student life, and facilities, reporting to the president and serving in his absence as the chief executive officer.
Dr. Burns’ tenure as Belmont’s provost was marked by major achievements, including significant growth in enrollment, as well as successful mergers with both the O’More College of Design and the Watkins College of Art. Through his leadership, the University also introduced a number of new majors and degree programs while successfully navigating the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges university reaccreditation and multiple specialized accreditations for various colleges.
Dr. Burns graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Chemistry from Dickinson College in 1991, and completed his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1998. He taught in the Chemistry and Physics Department at Florida Southern College for four years, winning two teaching awards and being named department chair in 1999. For six years, Dr. Burns served as the assistant dean for academic affairs for the Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he oversaw the Fulbright program and participated in the creation, implementation, and interpretation of the policies of the Graduate School. In 2006, Dr. Burns accepted the role of associate provost for academic administration at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where in cooperation with the provost he was responsible for the general education program, the First Year Experience, global education, and community and academic partnerships, among other duties.
In his provost position at Belmont University, Dr. Burns supervised the deans of the institution’s 13 colleges as well as the associate provosts for Enrollment Services and Student Affairs, and all academic support units. In addition to overseeing mergers with two local art schools, other highlights of Dr. Burns’ tenure at Belmont include enrollment growth from 6,400 students to more than 8,600; the launch of new programs in music therapy, data science, architecture, and motion pictures; construction of numerous residence halls and academic buildings; and the hosting of a 2020 Presidential Debate.
Dr. Burns is married to Margret, also a Ph.D. graduate in chemistry from Vanderbilt. The couple has two adult children.