Dr. Jessica Robinson, MSW, Vice President of Student Services at Cuyamaca College, has been named the college’s interim president beginning July 18. The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District will launch a national search for a permanent president this fall.
Robinson, an East County native and a graduate of Cuyamaca College and San Diego State University, is committed to making sure all students have access to college and can succeed at a time of great change in education and challenging economic times.
As a first-generation Latina college student, Robinson’s experiences as a student at Cuyamaca College made a profound impact on her life, starting her on a path to educational and professional success. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences/Social Work at San Diego State University, as well as a Master of Social Work and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degrees. Before joining Cuyamaca College in 2018, Robinson held numerous positions at SDSU, including Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Health and Human Services. Dr. Robinson has completed the prestigious Aspen Institute’s Rising Presidents Fellowship and the Community College League of California’s Aspiring CEO Program.
“Ensuring continuity of operations and high quality programs and services at Cuyamaca College is critical,” said District Chancellor Lynn Neault. “I am confident that Dr. Robinson will continue to move the college forward.” Key ongoing projects include an effort to secure state approval of the college’s first-ever bachelor’s program in Water and Wastewater Technology, completion of a Student Services Building, and finalization of a new strategic and facilities master plan.
In her current role since January 2018, Robinson has helped lead efforts to increase educational equity. This included ensuring that all students, regardless of background, take transferable courses in English, math, and ESL – an achievement for which Cuyamaca College has received state and national recognition. Robinson has also played a lead role in adapting student services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Services and instruction had to shift remotely while maintaining access and confidentiality. Today, those services continue to be offered remotely and in-person, better serving the needs of all students. The college has transitioned more than half of courses back to in person, and is allowing more flexible learning options than ever.
“I am beyond honored to be selected for the interim position,” Robinson said. “I chose Cuyamaca College as my first choice for college at 17. It prepared me for my life and my career. I am excited to ensure our community has the same access and success I had.”
Robinson said one of her chief goals is to support students with whatever they need to succeed in college. “My goal is that whatever a student’s vision is for themselves – whether it’s to earn a certificate, lifelong learning, or to transfer – that every single student has easy access to our college, and that they’re supported while they’re in and out of the classroom,” she said. “It means they’re supported through financial aid, a scholarship, Counseling, and any sort of basic right in regard to food or housing security. It means we’re supporting them each step of the way to continue their education.”
Robinson will take over for Dr. Julianna Barnes, who has accepted an offer to become Chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District. Robinson will serve as interim president through June 2023, until a new permanent president is appointed.
Robinson said everyone on campus has an important role to play in student success. “We definitely have a student-centered culture of caring about our students,” Robinson said. “We care that students choose us. We care that students are coming to us.”