Cuyamaca College leader receives national scholarship



Jessica Robinson, vice president of student services at Cuyamaca College, has been selected by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program to participate in a 10-month scholarship designed to prepare future community college presidents.

Robinson is one of 40 educators across the country and one of two from San Diego County chosen for the 2021-2022 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship. Tina King, assistant superintendent and vice-president of student affairs at Southwestern College, was also selected for the scholarship.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and political studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its website says its mission is to “foster leadership based on enduring values ​​and provide a non-partisan forum to address critical issues.”

According to a press release from Cuyamaca College, the scholarship was created to meet a growing need for a new generation of leaders in community college administration. Nationally, the group reports, nearly 80% of incumbent presidents plan to retire within the next decade.

While the traditional path to the presidency has often excluded women and people of color, according to the press release, the new class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is made up of 68% women and 70% people of color.

Cuyamaca College president Julianna Barnes nominated Robinson for the scholarship, describing her as one of the top percent of leaders she has worked with in more than 20 years at community colleges.

She cited Robinson’s emphasis on social justice and fairness as qualities that indicate she could become a future university president.

“With equitable access and success as a North Star, Jessica has taken student services to new heights,” said Barnes. “Jessica has proven to be a successful leader in community colleges and has the characteristics to become a successful CEO. “

The leadership program will begin in November. It pairs participants with current and past presidents of community colleges such as Barnes as mentors.

Participants will learn strategies for leading internal change, improving student outcomes in college and beyond, and building external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers and other partners.

Robinson told officials at Cuyamaca College that she has dedicated her career to equitable success for community college students – a goal drawn from her personal history as a first-generation college student and Latina.

“This desire to develop opportunities for student success comes from my experience, coupled with my passion for working with others to break down institutional barriers,” she said.

Robinson received his associate’s degree in Cuyamaca about 20 years ago, and went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and a doctorate in educational leadership from San Diego State University.

She was appointed Vice-President of Cuyamaca in 2018 after having worked for over 15 years at SDSU, most recently as Vice-Dean for Student Affairs and Acting Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.

Robinson’s past honors and accolades include the SDSU President’s Leadership Award for Faculty and Staff Excellence, San Diego Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” finalist and SDSU’s “Student of the Year”.



Leave A Reply