|Julianna Barnes, Cuyamaca College's new president|
Barnes was selected following a nationwide search, and was one of three finalists invited to participate in public forums at the Rancho San Diego campus. She emerged as the top choice for president following interviews with district leaders and the Governing Board.
“The people at Cuyamaca College have a unique combination of heart and innovation,” Barnes said. “The faculty and staff at Cuyamaca are student-centered, and they love what they do. I’m looking forward to building on the partnerships that Cuyamaca College already has with the community, industry and other educators.”
Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, said Barnes’ passion and leadership skills stood out in her qualifications to lead the Rancho San Diego college, which has about 9,000 students. This will be a homecoming of sorts for Barnes, who served as vice president of student services at Cuyamaca College before taking the job at San Diego Mesa College in February 2013.
“I’m delighted to have Dr. Barnes back in our district,” Miles said. “She has amazing enthusiasm for helping students succeed and for collaborating with faculty and staff to ensure that students get the best education possible. Not to mention her competence and creativity. She has the perfect blend of head and heart!”
Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board, also praised Barnes’ professionalism and innovative thinking.
“Julie Barnes is the perfect fit for Cuyamaca College,” Garrett said. “She knows the community, our students, and our faculty and staff. I know she will be a terrific representative for Cuyamaca College, both locally and statewide.”
In her current role at San Diego Mesa College, Barnes is responsible for leading a division within the college that includes a wide range of key student services functions. She is also responsible for leading the college’s accreditation efforts, is heavily engaged with integrated planning, and provides leadership for the institutional student success and equity efforts.
During her tenure at the college, she secured a $2.7 million federal grant to improve outcomes for students, particularly first-generation Latino students. She also worked to improve student success and equity by enhancing a program to assist first-year students, and led efforts to implement student success programs.
Barnes served in a similar position at Cuyamaca College from November 2010 until she took the job at San Diego Mesa College. While at Cuyamaca College, she led the effort to have the college established as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, making it eligible for federal grants. She also spearheaded the establishment of the college’s Veteran’s Resource Center, which provides assistance and networking opportunities for student veterans. She was involved in efforts to strengthen the college’s planning process, and led efforts to carry out the state’s Student Success Initiative.
She previously worked 11 years as dean of student development and matriculation at San Diego City College and as dean of student affairs and matriculation at San Diego Miramar College. Before that, she had worked in a variety of student affairs programs at the University of California, San Diego.
First-generation college student
Born and raised in San Diego, Barnes and her two siblings were raised by a single mother who dropped out of high school. She was the first in her immediate and extended family to attend college, but she only discovered college was an option when she saw other students in her high school Advanced Placement classes filling out college applications.
“I went to my counselor and found out I should be applying to college too,” she said.
Barnes applied and was accepted to the University of California, San Diego. In her sophomore year, her work as a student ambassador guided her toward her life’s work.
“I helped students learn about the possibility of going to a university,” Barnes said. “That really inspired me and ignited in me a passion to work with students to show them that they too can go to college.”
She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in teacher education from UCSD, and then got her master’s degree in education with an emphasis on multicultural counseling from SDSU’s Community Based Block Program. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership with a community college specialization from San Diego State University.
Barnes lives in San Diego with her husband, Bret Barnes, and their two children, Angelina, 17, and Natalie, 11. She has many family members in the area, including her brother, Ronald Ballesteros-Perez, who is vice president of administrative services at Palomar College.
Despite her busy schedule, Barnes trained for several years in martial arts with a sensei at UCSD, and holds a black belt in karate.
“I parallel my work in the martial arts with student success,” Barnes said. “Just as we use focus to break a board in karate, I want to help students break through barriers so they can achieve student success.”