San Diego Mesa College has announced the appointment of Dr. Isabel O’Connor as the
new Vice President of Instruction. A native of Spain and the first one in her family
to graduate from college, Isabel O'Connor earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from
the University of Alicante before immigrating to the United States in 1986. After
learning English at Los Angeles City College, she obtained a B.A. in European Studies
at Loyola Marymount University, and a Ph.D. in medieval Spanish history at UCLA.
“I am honored to become part of the Olympian family and contribute to the College’s
culture of innovation and excellence,” stated Dr. O’Connor. “I am committed to working
with faculty, staff, and administrators to help each and every student who comes to
Mesa College achieve their dream for a better life."
Dr. O’Connor spent twelve years in Indiana, as a member of the faculty at the University
of Southern Indiana, and then as chair of the History Department at Indiana University
South Bend. She received several teaching awards, including the Indiana University
South Bend Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as membership in the Indiana University
Faculty Colloquium for Excellence in Teaching. Isabel published numerous articles
and a book on the history of Muslims in medieval Spain.
In 2011, Dr. O’Connor returned to California and became Dean of Human Arts and Social
Sciences (HASS) at Cabrillo College. Under her leadership, the division saw the development
of new programs, such as a Certificate in Latino/Latin American Studies and a Fire
Academy to meet local workforce development needs. Isabel secured a variety of grants
from the Baskin Foundation and the Giannini Foundation to support the work of programs
in her division, such as Women’s Studies and the Children’s Center. She served on
the Board of the Bay Area Public Safety Consortium and represented Cabrillo College
at fundraising events held by the Santa Cruz County Court Appointed Special Advocates,
A firm believer in the power of a community college education to improve students’
lives, Dr. O’Connor joined a group of faculty as part of a Leading from the Middle
Academy in 2016. The team led the college through a journey of exploration and reflection
about student success and completion data, as well as the student journey at Cabrillo.
Following these efforts, Cabrillo College was accepted as one of the 20 colleges in
the California Guided Pathways Project. In 2017, she was appointed as Dean of Guided
Pathways. Under her leadership, Cabrillo has accomplished several milestones in Guided
Pathways implementation, including the development of Career and Academic Pathways,
program maps, and plans to offer a first year experience. Isabel has given presentations
about Cabrillo College’s Guided Pathways implementation, which is seen as a model
across the state, at the Strengthening Student Success Conference, IEPI workshops
in the Bay Area in coordination with Career Ladders Project, as well as at several
Dr. O’Connor will begin as the new VP of Instruction at Mesa on January 2nd.
Tags: Vice President of Instruction, Recent Posts, Community Colleges