Personal Mission

Live well, love all, serve others above self, and do good things.


My personal mission aligns closely with my professional life which has been to advance the mission of higher education, creating access and opportunity for all students and helping them navigate pathways to greater prosperity for their families; enabling discovery and sharing of new knowledge; creating high-performing service organizations; fostering a culture of innovation that brings forth new capabilities that yield greater efficiencies and effectiveness; and developing future leaders who will enthusiastically and thoughtfully show us the way forward. Through this journey, I've come to understand and appreciate that all technology stories are actually stories about people and that we should never underestimate our ability to have a profound and positive impact on people in pursuit of their aspirations. As such, everyone in IT has the ability (and responsibility) to positively impact learner/discoverer success whether they are providing front-line technical support, back-office services, application development, department management, or organizational leadership. Whether we are working as individual contributors, as part of a team, or collegially across institutions, we're all in IT together!


Dr. Steven Burrell currently serves as the vice president and chief information officer at Northern Arizona University. He has nearly 40 years of higher education technology leadership experience and is an active mentor, instructor, researcher, and speaker while serving on various industry advisory boards.

Dr. Burrell began his career at Colorado State University and held the top IT leadership position at Hutchinson Community College (Kansas), Plymouth State University (New Hampshire), Saint Leo University (Florida), and Georgia Southern University. Burrell is a lifelong learner, earning a bachelor's of science degree in Computer Science from Sterling College (Kansas), a master's of education degree in Technology Administration from Plymouth State University, an education specialist degree in Education Leadership from Georgia Southern University, and a doctor of Education of Higher Education Administration from Georgia Southern University. He is also a graduate of the Harvard University College of Education Institute for Educational Management.

His research interests consider the humanizing aspects of technology and leadership development and most recently exploring quantum leadership attributes and the qualitative research of gender bias as barriers to aspiring women IT leaders. He is currently PI and CO-PI on several grants, including NSF CC* grant to create research networks for small higher education institutions and tribal colleges.

In his career, Burrell has led a wide variety of successful projects and services, including worldwide education initiatives; national competitive grants to improve integrated planning and advising for student success; state-wide multi-institution shared services; innovations in teaching, discovery, research, and performance capabilities; and state-wide infrastructure development, among many others. Steve's passion for technology, research, and higher learning has created opportunities for fostering future generations of college graduates, responsible digital citizens, and community leaders. Students under his mentorship have produced Emmy Award-winning programming and have created cutting-edge technology business enterprises.

He is passionate about creating future leaders and fostering the next generation of CIOs and education leaders. Burrell is also active in his profession, having served on national, state, and local technology, research, and government in various advisory roles to public and private organizations.

Dr. Burrell is also active in his community, having served as the president of a community Rotary club, the executive board of a private hospice, Chamber of Commerce committees, and other organizations including those who act on behalf of animal rights and rescue. He currently serves on CIO advisory boards for Hyland, Microsoft, Salesforce, and is a board member and former Chairman of the Arizona Sun Corridor Network.