Jessica Robinson of Spring Valley will start he permanent job in July.
Jessica Robinson of Spring Valley will start he permanent job in July. Image via Cuyamaca College

Jessica Robinson graduated from Mount Miguel High School and later Cuyamaca College.

Now she’s been named the Rancho San Diego community college’s next president after a nationwide search — the first alumna to serve in the school’s top leadership role.

A first-generation Latina college graduate, Robinson was most recently the East County college’s interim president and vice president of student services.

“Jessica is a passionate, equity-minded leader with more than 20 years of experience in higher education,” said Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor Lynn Neault.

“She has demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice, student success, and equitable access not only at Cuyamaca College but in her former leadership roles at San Diego State University.”

Robinson, who was selected by Neault, is expected to begin her now permanent job July 3.

Neault said Robinson has brought many strengths while serving as interim president, including a collaborative leadership style, and extensive experience in strategic and facilities planning, fiscal planning, and developing student support services.

Robinson credits Cuyamaca College with making a profound impact on her life as a student. Those experiences placed her on a path to her career in higher education.

“Like many first-generation students, I didn’t know what to expect from college; I started nervous and unsure,” she said. “What I learned as a student at Cuyamaca is that I belonged here.

“In my role as president, I intend to make space so that every one of our students know they belong here too. I am beyond proud to serve Cuyamaca students and employees as president. This is truly a dream come true.”

After attending Cuyamaca, Robinson went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and a doctorate in educational leadership from SDSU.

Before returning to Cuyamaca in 2018, Robinson served as assistant dean for student affairs and interim associate dean for academic affairs at SDSU’s College of Health and Human Services. She has also taught on leadership, social work and community organizing at SDSU and the University of San Diego.

Robinson completed the prestigious Aspen Institute’s Rising Presidents Fellowship and the Community College League of California’s Aspiring CEO Program.

As president of Cuyamaca College, Robinson will provide administrative oversight for the development and management of the campus’ nearly $61 million budget.

“She will continue to focus on increasing educational equity by ensuring that all students, regardless of background, take transferable courses in English, math and English as a second language,” said the district.

As president, the school said, Robinson will try to build back enrollment lost during the pandemic, expand Career Education programs including championing a community college bachelor’s degree in Water Studies Technology for the college, as well as lead the implementation of a new strategic and facilities master plan.