Spring on the York College campus

Presidential Search 2022-23

With the announcement of President Pamela Gunter-Smith’s retirement in June 2023, York College of Pennsylvania has embarked on a national search for its fifth president. 

York College is in a strong position strategically, academically, and financially and aims to build upon this foundation. The College’s Board of Trustees has created a search committee led by Vice Chair Stephen Tansey and composed of trustees, faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and community stakeholders who will consider a qualified and diverse slate of candidates.

The search firm WittKieffer has been engaged by the College to assist with the search. The firm is eager to gather input from stakeholders engaged with York College, and has created a survey to capture thoughts and comments. The survey may also be used to nominate candidates for the position. For additional information, email  YorkCollegePresident@wittkieffer.com

Updates to the search process will be provided at this site.

Sun dapples the sidewalks of the campus quad on a fall morning. Colorful leaves are visible on the pathway leading up to the Performing Arts Center.
A group of six students chat as they walk up the sidewalk from the Performing Arts Center into the campus quad.

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Search Updates

  • March 20, 2023 - York College of PA Names Former Belmont University Provost as Fifth President

    The York College of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees has named Dr. Thomas Burns, a distinguished leader in higher education, as the College’s fifth president. He will succeed current president Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith on July 1, 2023. Gunter-Smith announced her retirement last June after a nearly 10-year tenure. 

    The trustees unanimously selected Dr. Burns from a strong diversified slate following a nine-month national search, conducted by a 19-member presidential search committee comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, students, and trustees, as well as representatives from the external community.

    “We are thrilled and honored to welcome Dr. Burns to York College,” said Board Chair Laura Wand. “He is an innovator with a deep passion for private higher education. He is committed to student success, the College’s teaching-centric roots, and our strategic focus on experiential learning. Incoming President Burns possesses all the qualities necessary to take York College into its next ambitious era.” 

    “My wife and I are extremely excited to join York College of Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Burns. “To us, York represents the best of what higher education should be – dedication to both the liberal arts and professional education in an environment where students are encouraged to apply their knowledge to help the community, while developing the skills that prepare them to be the next generation of competitive, flexible, and purpose-driven leaders.”

    A chemist and lifelong educator with an extensive résumé in higher education administration, Dr. Burns comes to York College after serving as provost of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., 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 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, Belmont 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. 

    “I believe everyone on the search committee would agree that Dr. Thomas Burns is a thoughtful, approachable, humble leader, with deep experience, and a passion for innovation,” said Board Vice Chair Stephen Tansey, who led the presidential search committee. “I would like to express my deep appreciation for the thoughtful, discerning, and committed work undertaken by the entire search committee throughout this process.”

    Wand expressed thanks to Dr. Gunter-Smith, recognizing “her extraordinary 10-year leadership of the institution, which has grown programs, student access and success, and community engagement. She has set up the institution for success for many years to come.” 

  • February 28, 2023 — Presidential Search Finalists Interviewed

    To the York College Community:

    Our search committee has been very busy over the last month evaluating a strong pool of candidates, reviewing references and feedback, and deliberating on candidates’ alignment with York’s mission and priorities. Earlier in February, the committee invited four finalists to visit campus to meet with key campus representatives in order to learn more about York while the committee, in turn, assessed the strength of their candidacies and feedback from the visits. This week, two of those individuals will return for final meetings. The Board will then make its decision and extend an offer to the preferred candidate. We hope to announce the next president of York College in March.

    We are very grateful to our search committee and members of our community who committed their time and energy to get us to this point in the process.

    Stephen W. Tansey
    Vice Chair, York College Board of Trustees
    Chair, York College Presidential Search Committee

  • February 1, 2023 — Update from the Presidential Search Committee Chair

    Dear York College of Pennsylvania community:

    On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, I write with an update on the presidential search process. 

    To summarize progress to date, the Board of Trustees charged a 16-member search committee that has been working collaboratively with staff and WittKieffer, our search firm, since the summer of 2022. We developed a comprehensive leadership profile based on input from numerous listening sessions with faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, and community members as well as an electronic survey. The leadership profile not only served as a compelling marketing tool for the position, but it has also provided the committee with a framework for the candidate evaluation process.   

    In the fall of 2022, our search firm launched a global outreach effort that included advertising and targeted conversations with over 3200 people in higher education and other fields. We received close to 100 applications from an outstanding pool of candidates. We are very pleased with the quality of the pool and the enthusiastic response for the position. Candidates tell us they were attracted to our mission, history of outstanding leadership and success, commitment to students, our talented faculty and innovative programs, and our anchoring role in the greater York community.

    The search committee has now begun its critical work of evaluating candidates, narrowing our focus to a small group of high-potential candidates, and designing a process that enables candidates to learn more about us while honoring the confidentiality of the search process. Some members of our community have been asked to participate in small group sessions with candidates and to provide the committee with feedback on those meetings as part of the committee's deliberation process.

    We are grateful for the faith you have placed in this committee and for your commitment to and support for York College. 

    We expect to provide you with more updates on the search later this winter.


    Steve Tansey
    Search Committee Chair
    Vice-Chair, YCP Board of Trustees

  • August 9, 2022 — York College Board of Trustees Announces Formation of Presidential Search Committee

    In early July, President Pamela Gunter-Smith formally announced her decision to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic and fiscal year. Dr. Gunter-Smith brought a vision and a strategic imperative to her presidency that helped transform the College from Great to Greater and set the institution on a pathway of success in the transforming environment of 21st-century higher education.

    As Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, it is my responsibility to lead the committee tasked with the difficult job of finding a successor to Dr. Gunter-Smith. We are fortunate to be able to undertake this search at a time when the College is in a strong position strategically, academically, and financially. Building upon this foundation, our goal is to conduct a national search, consider a qualified and diverse slate of candidates, and provide a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on the next president of York College.

    The Board of Trustees has appointed the executive search firm WittKieffer to assist with the search. In early July, WittKieffer spent time with the Board of Trustees to explain how the firm manages the search process and to understand the opportunities and challenges that exist for York College. Following the kickoff with the Board, a Presidential Search Committee was formulated. This team of diverse individuals represents York College faculty, administration, trustees, trustee emeriti, students, alumni, philanthropic supporters, and community stakeholders. The Committee has been assembled and will begin its work in early September. The timeline for this search has the Board of Trustees naming the next president of York College in early spring 2023.

    This is a very exciting time for York College. Dr. Gunter-Smith’s leadership has created unique and inspiring opportunities for the College: from her broader engagement with the local community to the success of the College’s comprehensive campaign; from the vision of Strategic Plan 2.0 to the curricular pivot toward innovation and experiential learning – our future President has big shoes to fill but will be blessed with an institution that is poised for ever greater success. We look forward to welcoming that person to campus as the fifth President of York College.

    Stephen W. Tansey
    Vice Chair, York College Board of Trustees
    Chair, 2022 York College Presidential Search Committee

  • July 1, 2022 — President Pamela Gunter-Smith Announces June 2023 Retirement

    To the York College Community:

    York College of Pennsylvania President, Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith, has shared with the Board of Trustees her intent to retire in June 2023. The College’s fourth president, she came to York in 2013 after leadership roles at Drew University, Spelman College, and the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute.

    In her inaugural speech, Dr. Gunter-Smith spoke of “Time and Place,” saying that “to successfully educate the next generation of students and to prepare them for life, great institutions must adapt and change as the landscape changes with time.” Her nine-year tenure has brought transformation and evolution, as she challenged York College to move from “Great to Greater.” During that time, she has:

    • Created a stronger connection to York City with the opening of the Center for Community Engagement and Marketview Arts in downtown York. Both provide opportunities for students to engage with the local community through experiential learning and real-world problem-solving.
    • Developed a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation through academic programs and outsidethe-classroom experiences, culminating in the creation of the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation and the soon-to-be-completed York College Knowledge Park, a learning laboratory that will enhance opportunities for students and faculty to interact with local businesses and organizations.
    • Enhanced the academic program by creating the current five-school structure and online offerings, as well as infusing the curriculum with high-impact practices such as project- and community-based learning courses.
    • Launched the first comprehensive campaign, EVOLVE: A Campaign for York College, to fund strategic initiatives including scholarships that ensure a high-quality education remains accessible. The Campaign is on track to exceed its goal.
    • Led York College through the COVID-19 pandemic. The College welcomed students back to campus for Fall 2020 with a continued focus on the student experience and institutional sustainability.
    • Served the local community, commonwealth, and higher education nationally through her participation on various boards.

    The York College of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees would like to express our sincere gratitude for the leadership, dedication, and vision that Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith has brought to the College and the community during the last nine years. Higher education has been in the midst of a changing environment throughout the country. We are so thankful that Dr. Gunter-Smith has been at the helm to lead us through a series of important changes and challenges that have resulted in a greater, more capable York College for our students, faculty, and community.

    The Board of Trustees will begin the search for Gunter-Smith’s successor immediately. Details about the search process will be communicated shortly.

    Laura T. Wand
    Chair of the York College Board of Trustees

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