February 7, 2023
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Cuesta president says college is moving past accreditation worries


After a hearing earlier this month, Cuesta College appears to be on track to putting its accreditation woes behind it.

College officials said that a team put together by President Gil Stork made an appearance before a review panel to answer questions about progress made in addressing issues that threatened the future existence of the San Luis Obispo County community college.

In remarks scheduled for delivery at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Good Morning SLO breakfast on Jan. 24, Stork said that a draft report from the panel concludes that many of the issues that have dogged Cuesta for four years have been resolved.

“What we need to complete in order to demonstrate compliance for integrated planning is (1) that our planning process is cyclic and sustainable and (2) that we assessed the process and used the results to fine tune its effectiveness,” Stork told the Business Times via email after the event.

Cuesta has been under fire since 2009, when a report from the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges put it on probation, citing nine areas where the school, a major feeder for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, needed to improve. Troubles deepened in 2011 when a follow-up review reported insufficient progress in addressing three issues.

In August, Stork told the Business Times that the college, with 9,200 students, was making steady progress toward addressing the accreditation issues.

Stork, a 44-year veteran of Cuesta, was named interim president and superintendent of the school in January 2010. Those positions were made permanent in January 2012.

As reported in August, he made several personnel moves and put together the team to address the  remaining issues.

Cuesta’s accreditation problems arose at a time when more than 30 percent of the state’s community colleges failed to fully comply with the Accrediting Commission’s standards. Among other colleges that were issued warning letters or put on probation were Santa Barbara City College and the Ventura Community College District. Many of those problems have also been resolved.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated on Jan. 25 to clarify the specific steps Cuesta needs to complete in order to retain accreditation and to correct the date when Stork was named interim superintendent of the college. ]