Despite campuswide efforts to resolve key concerns, the regional accrediting agency that evaluates two-year colleges in California has directed Cuesta College to show why its accreditation should not be withdrawn.

Officials of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges sent the show-cause notification Feb. 3 following a visit by an accreditation team last November.

“I am extremely disappointed with the commission’s action,” said Dr. Gil Stork, Cuesta’s superintendent/president. “Their remaining recommendations do not reflect on the college’s outstanding faculty and management team and superb student services. Nor do they reflect on the genuine and significant progress that the college has achieved through collaborative efforts in satisfying commission concerns.

“We want to assure our students and their families that Cuesta College remains an accredited institution during this process,” he said. “And while we work to address the perceived remaining deficiencies, we want the public to know that the notification does not change the status of transferable courses.”

The commission placed Cuesta on warning status in January 2009 with recommendations to make improvements. Following a visit to the campus in October 2009, the commission in January 2010 placed the college on probation.

A year later, the commission took action to continue Cuesta’s probation status, while noting that the college had made progress and completely satisfied some of the organization’s recommendations.

Cuesta officials responded and implemented a series of needed improvements to lead the college through the process with integrity and transparency.

These included hiring key administrative personnel, last week’s approval of a technology plan that is a vital component of Cuesta’s 2010-2013 Strategic Plan, and updating an Educational Master Plan for the future.

“This is the highest priority for the Board of Trustees,” said Pat Mullen, president of the San Luis Obispo County Community College District’s Board of Trustees. “The board will be 100 percent focused on assuring these deficiencies are corrected.  The board is providing direction and its full support to Dr. Stork to do whatever is necessary to immediately address and correct these issues.”

“I view this as a serious, but temporary setback,” Dr. Stork said of the action. “We will work with the commission to sort out the details of their remaining recommendations, develop and implement our plan of action, and I am confident that we will resolve these issues to the full satisfaction of the commission.

“We will remain focused on our fundamental purpose of helping our students achieve their education goals.”

Released Feb. 6, 2012