York College names a new president with ties to area

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

York College’s board of trustees has found a new leader for the institution.

Thomas Burns, former provost for Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee, was named as the college's fifth president, succeeding Pamela Gunter-Smith, who announced her retirement last June after 10 years at the school. Burns will take over the post July 1. 

Burns’ selection comes after a nine-month national search that was conducted by a 19-member presidential search committee that included faculty, staff, administrators, students, trustees and community members. 

York College has chosen Thomas Burns, former provost at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee, as its fifth president.

Burns served as provost at Belmont College from 2011 to May 2022. His duties included overseeing academic affairs, enrollment, student life, and facilities, reporting to the president and serving in his absence as the chief executive officer. 

During his tenure, Belmont grew from an enrollment of 6,400 students to just over 8,600. Burns also oversaw the college’s merger of the O’More College of Design and the Watkins College of Art.  

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He also helped introduce several new majors and degree programs, including programs in music therapy, data science, architecture and motion pictures 

Burns also oversaw the construction of several residence halls and academic buildings, as wells as the hosting of the 2020 Presidential Debate at Belmont. 

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Burns is familiar with the educational scene in the area. In 2006, he served as the associate provost for academic administration at Millersville University in Lancaster County. 

His education background includes a Ph.D in chemistry from Vanderbilt in 1998 after graduating cum laude from Dickinson College in 1991. He taught at Florida Southern College for four years before becoming the assistant dean of academic affairs for the Yale University Graduate School of Arts.