SAN MARCOS (June 27, 2024) – Palomar College recently hired new deans to lead academic and student services divisions within the college.  Dr. Leanne Maunu was named Dean of Languages and Literature after serving in an interim role.  As the Dean of Student Life and Leadership, Dr. Amrik Johal will provide leadership, vision, and administrative guidance for vital departments serving the needs of students.  Dr. John Escobedo will join the College as Dean of the Math, Sciences and Engineering. 

“Both Dr. Maunu and Dr. Escobedo are perfect additions to Palomar College.  They are passionate educators and are highly dedicated to the success of our students,” stated Dr. Tina Recalde, Assistant Superintendent and Vice President of Instruction.  

Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services, Nick Mata expressed his delight in welcoming Dr. Johal.  “We are extremely excited to have Dr. Johal join the team. His background, knowledge and commitment to student engagement and equity are the perfect foundation for the development of a vibrant student life experience at Palomar College,” he stated.

Combined, the new leaders will oversee the operations of degree and certificate offerings and student success programs at the Palomar College sites in San Marcos, Escondido, Fallbrook, and Rancho Bernardo.

Leanne Maunu, Ph.D.

Dr. Leanne Maunu has deep family ties with Palomar College. Her parents, both first-generation college students, met when they were students at Palomar College.  She has worked at Palomar College for 22 years.

“When I got hired here, it felt like it was meant to be my home,” Maunu said.

Maunu’s mother, an elementary school teacher, emphasized education and instilled a love of reading in her, which has led her to follow a similar career path.

“When I started teaching, I fell in love with it, and I knew it was the path for me.  Now as an administrator I am able to share this passion with colleagues who impact a broader number of students,” she said.

As the Dean of Languages and Literature, Maunu leads the planning, organizing, administering, and developing and evaluation of the instructional programs within the division.  She manages projects and activities within the division and in close collaboration with staff and faculty oversees the delivery of quality instructional programs and support services for students.

Maunu earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of California at San Diego and her master’s and doctorate degrees in English at Indiana University. She worked as an adjunct instructor at San Diego State University and Southwestern College before she was hired as a full-time English instructor at Palomar College. She has also worked as the writing center coordinator and the faculty professional development coordinator.

Amrik Johal, Ph.D.

Dr. Amrik Johal has been working for six years at Irvine Valley College in the South Orange County Community College District as Assistant Dean of Students, where he oversaw the Student Life department, Student Equity department, Student Equity and Achievement (SEA) program, basic needs, and the Food Resource Center.  His experience also includes student services leadership positions associated with outreach and community relations, the Promise program, a Student Ambassador program.

At 11 years old, Johal and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Oceanside. He shares how being a first-generation college student has allowed him to relate to the students we serve, as well as his deep connection to North County.

“I know what it was like to find my educational path,” he said. “I can connect to that experience as I work with my Palomar colleagues to support the success of our students.”

As the Palomar College Dean of Student Life & Leadership, Johal will oversee the Associated Student Government, Student Life and Clubs, Student Rights and Responsibilities, Basic Needs, Student Health Services, and Behavioral Health Services.

Johal looks forward to joining the Palomar College community. “It’s a really exciting time to become a Comet, and I am looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues and impacting the success of students,” he stated.

Johal earned his bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA, a master’s degree higher and postsecondary education administration from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in higher education and organizational change from UCLA.  He later earned his doctorate from UCLA in higher education and organizational change.

John Escobedo, Ph.D.

Dr. John Escobedo comes to Palomar with over a decade of higher education experience.  Most recently he served as the Dean of Business, English, and Language Arts at Cabrillo College.  Escobedo has taught at both the university and community college levels and held administrative roles throughout his career.

Escobedo has been actively involved in initiatives aimed at promoting STEM student success. He advocates for comprehensive programs that offer mentorship, leadership development, community engagement, and personal growth of students.

“As a proud former student of Palomar College, I am thrilled to return in my new capacity as the Dean of the Mathematics, Science, and Engineering.  I am eager to begin collaborating with the exceptional faculty and staff to support the success of students.  I am also looking forward to working with our K-12 partners and industry leaders to foster an environment of innovation and excellence,” Escobedo stated.

As the Dean of Math, Sciences and Engineering, Escobedo will lead the planning, organizing, administering, and developing and evaluation of the instructional programs within the division.  In close collaboration with staff and faculty he will oversee the delivery of quality instructional programs and support services for students.

He holds an associate of arts degree from MiraCosta College, a bachelor’s of English from the University of California at Riverside, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English from Rice University.