Simpson University Welcomes New Dean of Adult Studies and Online Programs

For Immediate Release


Dr. John BurlisonLike many Americans, John Burlison found his career path changed in the aftermath of 9/11. A corporate executive and entrepreneur, Burlison lost nearly half of his client business in the space of a few hours.

But the disaster pushed him toward a different line of work—one in which he has found ample opportunity to utilize his organizational and building skills. When his wife saw a job description for a director of graduate administrative services at Point Loma Nazarene University, he applied—and has spent the past 13 years in Christian higher education, three at Point Loma and almost nine at Azusa Pacific University as director of the university’s San Diego Regional Center.

“The management skills I learned in business helped me develop entrepreneurial ventures within higher education,” he said. “I am an out-of-the-box thinker and love building educational and support systems.”

Burlison, who has an Ed.D. in educational leadership and change from Fielding Graduate University, joined Simpson University in June as dean of adult studies and online programs.

As dean of the School of Adult Studies, he oversees the ASPIRE degree-completion program. As dean for online programs, he will oversee the newly created Center of Excellence for Learning Technology, which works with faculty across all disciplines to create more online degrees.

Burlison said he was drawn to the position at Simpson for several reasons. “I have been teaching in programs similar to ASPIRE for many years,” he said. “I love playing a small part in helping returning adult students earn their degrees and fulfill lifelong goals. Simpson has a long history and great reputation in the north state area, and I am excited to be part of the team.”

Building on the quarter-century of excellence the ASPIRE program has established, Burlison hopes to expand the vision for the School of Adult Studies, including more online degrees and face-to-face courses in new regions. He is committed to linking growth with mission.

“I see this as an opportunity to help Simpson reach its goals of expanding its influence to serve the world for God,” he said. “Having worked in Christian higher education at two large institutions, I have learned that bigger is not always better. Laying down a foundation and sticking to the mission of the institution is more important than growth at any cost.”

Among other plans, he would like to create an ASPIRE alumni association and an advisory committee to offer input regarding future programs to meet community needs. He also would like to see more endowed scholarships set up for Adult Studies students.

In Burlison’s role overseeing all the university’s online programs, he sees the “gateway to world service” potential in making more degrees available completely online, both undergraduate and graduate.

“This will make Simpson available to the entire world, expanding our reach to areas we currently can’t impact,” he said. “I believe Simpson University’s vision for growth is based on fulfilling the mission of the university. This is why I am so excited to be here.”

This article was featured in the fall/winter 2014 Transform newsletter.

Photo by Matt Murnan