Julianna M. Asperin Barnes, Ed.D.

South Orange County Community College District

Dr. Julianna M. Asperin Barnes, with over 30 years of experience in higher education, has made an indelible mark on the education community, especially at the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) since assuming the role of Chancellor on August 1, 2022. Her visionary leadership, commitment to equity, and strategic focus have not only shaped the educational landscape but have had profound economic and societal impacts, underscoring her role as a transformative force.

Under Dr. Barnes, SOCCCD—which includes Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College—remains a pivotal force in the Orange County economy with an approximate $1.9 billion-dollar annual impact, functioning as a major employer for thousands of faculty and staff and a contributor to 20,000 plus jobs produced in the county. Her strategic vision extends to influencing construction spending, injecting millions into the county’s economy and creating additional job opportunities, fostering rapid economic growth. The economic influence of SOCCCD, shaped by Dr. Barnes’ leadership, extends beyond the confines of the colleges themselves, impacting students and alumni. Driven by her commitment to educational excellence, the investments made by students in their education have a direct correlation to future higher earnings. This notable impact underscores Dr. Barnes’ dedication to offering students an education that transcends traditional boundaries.

At the regional, state, and national levels, Dr. Barnes actively contributes to the higher education landscape. She holds positions on several boards, including the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Community College League of California (CCLC), the President of the Board for the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges (CEOCCC), Board member for the Orange County Business Council (OCBC), where she serves as the Vice Chair of the Workforce Development committee, and maintains membership on the Orange County Community College Legislative Task Force (OCCCLTF) as well as the Orange County Regional Consortium: Workforce Development Alliance.

In essence, Dr. Barnes has not only shaped the academic excellence of SOCCCD but has significantly contributed to the economic vitality of Orange County, the state of California, and the community college system as a whole. Her visionary leadership has created a holistic impact, ensuring that education becomes a powerful force for economic growth, individual success, and societal well-being. Under her guidance, SOCCCD stands as a testament to the transformative potential of higher education.

Before taking on her current position, Dr. Barnes held the position of President at Cuyamaca College from 2015 to 2022, where she distinguished herself as a transformative leader. Under her leadership, Cuyamaca College rose to prominence as a trailblazer in equity and innovation within the educational landscape. The college’s commitment to developmental education reform earned them the prestigious John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award, and national recognition from Excelencia in Education. Prior to her presidency, she served in various roles at both the community college and university levels.

Dr. Barnes’ earned a Doctor of Education in educational leadership and a Master of Arts in education/multicultural counseling from San Diego State University. Her Bachelor of Arts in sociology and minor in teacher education were obtained from the University of California, San Diego.