Palomar’s new Dean of Counseling comes to North County with 23 years of experience in the California Community College system.

SAN MARCOS — During more than two decades of serving in community colleges in the Inland Empire, Leslie Salas worked her way up through a variety of positions and departments, pursuing a passion for helping students succeed.

In September 2020, Salas came to Palomar College as the new Dean of Counseling, a position that oversees a variety of Student Services programs and personnel.

“I look forward to supporting my team, our division, and our students at Palomar College,” Salas said. “We’re going to work collaboratively across the college to make sure our students have access to the services they need to ensure their completion and their success. My vision is to continue to support the great work that’s already going on.”

“I am excited to partner with Leslie in advancing our goals of being student-centered, faculty- and staff-focused, and Data Driven/Action Oriented,” said Dr. Vikash Lakhani, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services.

Salas’ first community college position was in Health Services within the Riverside Community College District, where she would spend the next 18 years.

She recalled, “I really enjoyed engaging with students and helping with their health—making sure they were mentally and physically able to go to class and complete successfully. I really enjoyed working with the people.”

Salas also spent four years working in Riverside’s Career Technical Education programs before returning to Student Services. For the last five years, she served as Director of EOPS/CARE at Mt. San Jacinto Community College.

Before beginning her career in higher education, Salas served four years as an active duty Marine, followed by five years in the reserves at March Air Reserve Base, where she was in charge of the Toys for Tots program.

Salas said she has always had a passion for “the intricacies of working with people—the people factor. People come to us with a variety of needs, and student services is responsive to those needs.”

During her years in Riverside, she added, “I became more passionate about serving students not just in one area, but seeing how all of these components really work together for the success of our students, while they’re taking classes.”

Salas began her own higher education at Riverside City College, followed by a bachelor’s degree in Sociology & Criminal Justice from Chapman University, and a master’s in Higher Education from the University of Redlands. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education (EdD) degree in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University.