In this issue

What's New  • College Governance Communications

Shout-outs!  • In the News  • Hello/Goodbye  • Calendar

What's New

Presidential Search Update: New Superintendent/President Announced

After a nationwide search, Cuesta College’s Board of Trustees have selected Dr. Jill Stearns as Cuesta College’s seventh superintendent/president. Dr. Stearns’ contract is set to officially be approved at the April 11 Board of Trustees meeting. Dr. Stearns has served as president of Modesto Junior College since July of 2012. Previously, she served as the vice president of educational services, the interim associate dean of student learning outcomes, and director of financial aid at West Hills College. Dr. Stearns also spent three years in the classroom as a teacher at Avenal High School.

In addition to strong leadership skills, Dr. Stearns brings an awareness of San Luis Obispo County to the job. She's lived in four areas of SLO County previously - San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, Paso Robles, and Atascadero. For more information - including reaction from Dr. Stearns and Cuesta College Board of Trustees President Dr. Barbara George, check out this press release.

Student Outreach Event Needs Your Help!

cougar welcome days

The first annual Cougar Welcome Day events, at the North County Campus on Saturday, April 21, and at the San Luis Obispo Campus on Saturday, April 28, are fast approaching. Many faculty and staff have been hard at work planning the events, and now they need volunteers to help Cuesta showcase what it has to offer and welcome prospective students to an encouraging environment. The planning committee is seeking individuals on both days who are willing to help set-up, conduct tours, represent departments, and more. 

To sign up, visit this webpage. If you have questions or need more information, email Director of Outreach Jeffrey Alexander. An email with details was also sent via Cuesta Announcements on March 1.

Commencement is Coming

This year the college celebrates its 53rd Commencement Ceremony which acknowledges 2017-2018 Associate Degree graduates. It is an honor to be a part of commencement, to recognize the culmination of years of hard work by our students, their great potential and bright futures.

During commencement, we also recognize our own achievements in assisting students to achieve their goals. The conferring of degrees represents your inspired devotion to those you teach and serve, and is reflected in every student participating in the ceremony.

The ceremony will take place on Friday, May 18, at 3:00 p.m. in the SLO Campus gym. Following commencement, you are invited to the President’s Reception in the Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery Courtyard. I do hope to see you all at the graduation and reception.

 Apply Now for Foundation Grants

Need funding? Good news - the 2018-19 Foundation Grant Request Form is now available. Funds are allocated on July 1, so make sure you get your request submitted by the deadline of April 10 at 5:00 p.m. For more information, call the Foundation Office at (805) 546-3279. An email with further details and the request form was sent to all users via Campus Announcements was also sent out on February 22.

Attend the Foundation Awards Ceremony

The Foundation is also busy planning the 2018 Awards Luncheon. This year, the event will take place at noon on April 13 and honor the four 2018 Honored Alumni and three Volunteer Award recipients. The cost to attend is $20 per person. To RSVP, visit this online form.

And - find out who won the Honored Alumni and Volunteer Awards in Shout-Outs below!

Book of the Year Events

life animated

The 2018 Book of Year Program events are almost all wrapped up, but there is still some time left to catch  a couple of them! Marking the program’s 10-year anniversary, this year’s book is the popular memoir Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ron Suskind. The book tells the story of Suskind’s son, Owen Suskind, who struggles with autism and learned how to communicate with the outside world through his love of Disney films.

A final film screening is being held March 22, while a campus presentation on autism is set for March 26. Please note: the main event featuring Suskind on March 19 has sold out. Check out this press release for more information about this year's program, and for questions, contact Carina Love.

 Educate - Si Se Puede


A reminder that Cuesta College will host hundreds of local Latino/a high school students at the Annual Educate - Si Se Puede on March 16 on the SLO Campus. The conference will include workshops, motivational speakers and more. For more information, visit the Educate - Si Se Puede website. Thank you to all the Cuesta College faculty and staff who are involved in planning this important student service event.

Attend a Luncheon with Dr. Victor Rios

Cuesta College is welcoming back award-winning college professor, author, and speaker Dr. Victor Rios to present on educational equity, juvenile justice, mentoring, resilience, cultural proficiency, and restorative approaches to support young people. Dr. Rios spoke at the college's Opening Day Ceremony in January. This time, Dr. Rios will appear on the North County Campus on March 20, from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. in Dallons Hall. The lunch is free and open to the public, but registration is recommended. You can register online at

And for a look at the insightful information Dr. Rios has to offer on supporting at-risk youth, check out the Spring Opening Day video at the 24:00 minute mark.

Cuesta Police BBQ Fundraiser for Special Olympics

Cuesta College Police are once again hosting a Tri-Tip sandwich fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics athletes here in San Luis Obispo County. The lunch will be on Tuesday, April 10th, from 11am until 1pm. Tickets are just $10 and include a Tri-Tip sandwich, chips, drink, and a cookie. Cuesta College Police will deliver to offices on both SLO campus and the North County Campus, or they can be picked up from the police parking area on the SLO Campus in Lot 3.

To reserve a lunch, email Police Chief Bryan Millard at or call extension 2478.

Upcoming Veterans Resource Fair

Veterans & Family Resource Fair is coming up on April 7 at Cuesta College on the SLO Campus. The event will take place from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. throughout various areas of the campus. Those who attend will get info on employment. housing, Veterans Affairs, and workshops. There is free admission and parking for all veterans and their families who attend. 

For more info, email 

Faculty Lecture Series: The View from the Mellah

Please mark your calendars for the next Faculty Lecture Series presentation!

The View from the Mellah: Imagining the former Jewish quarter of Fez, Morocco

  • By Art History Faculty Member Michelle Craig
  • Wednesday, April 18, 3:00-3:50 p.m.
  • SLO Campus, room 2608 (the new Instructional Building)

Dr. Michelle Craig teaches art history and art appreciation courses in the Fine Arts Division at Cuesta. She specializes in African and Islamic art histories. Her fieldwork has been based in Morocco since 2006; her research examines the architecture and photographic representations of the mellah, the former Jewish quarter, of Fez. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Fez was founded in 808CE and is considered a “living medieval city”. The mellah was inhabited by the fifteenth century, but its architecture largely dates to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, making an anomaly in a city praised for its medieval qualities. This presentation explores how mellah’s present form celebrates its Jewish past, reflects the failed experiments of French colonization (1912-1956), and partially meets the needs of its current Muslim inhabitants. 

Questions? Contact Academic Senate President Dr. Lara Baxley at

Library Art Exhibit Currently Featuring Cuesta Instructor’s Artworks

During March and April, the Cuesta College SLO Campus Library (Building 3200) is featuring an art exhibition of the work of artist and Fine Arts faculty member Marcia Harvey, who teaches printmaking.

The pieces - shown in the display cases located in the Library entry stairwell and near the Children’s Corner section of the Library - are composed of found materials and the artist’s personal journals. The pages of her 28 journals have become small sculptural objects, drawings, and collage elements in paintings. Her work containing journal pages has informed and directed the shape and forms of her current studio practice. 

Library open hours are Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; closed Saturdays, Sundays, & Academic holidays. Call the Library at 805-546-3155 for more info.

Reminder: Check out the Portals Art Exhibit

If you haven't yet, go check out the Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery's current exhibit! The global public art initiative Portals: Connecting the World: A Social Practice Exhibition is happening now through March 29. An inflatable portal, equipped with immersive audio-visual technology provides face-to-face, live, full-body interactions with individuals in identical portals all over the world. The Cuesta Portal is connecting participants to the countries of Afghanistan, Australia, Germany, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Palestine, Panama, Rwanda, and more.

More information, and details on how you can book a time to check out the portal, can be found in this press release

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College Governance Communications

Each month, the President's Newsletter serves as a communication conduit for College Council, Planning & Budget Committee, Academic Senate Council and the Board of Trustees. 

Board of Trustees Meeting of March 7th, 2018

Seperation Incentive Plan Update

At its January 10 meeting, the Board of Trustees agreed to allow the District to pursue an early Separation Incentive Program (SIP) for employees. The timeframe for employees to opt in to the SIP closed on February 23. There are many factors that must be weighed in determining whether or not the incentive meets the fiscal and operational needs of the District. Most importantly, the District must assess the number and expected cost of positions that require backfill, as the potential incentive payments incurred must be offset by positional savings to provide a net benefit to the District budget. This information is currently being assessed, and an announcement as to how we will proceed is forthcoming.  

Update from the North County Campus Land Use Committee

At their March 7 meeting, the Board of Trustees reviewed a draft RFQ that would solicit public interest for revenue-generating uses of District property at the North County Center. The property in question is the 11-acre “bow tie” parcel that sits between Dallons Road and the Allegretto Hotel. The RFQ is intended to be broad so as not to limit the pool of potential options for development, and is expected to be ready for release later in the spring. At the close of the request period, the District would be able to review submittals to determine the best option to pursue, if any. Updates will be provided as the process continues.

College Council

No report: College Council met once in February and took no significant action.

Planning & Budget Committee

No report: the Planning & Budget Committee met once in February and took no significant action.

Academic Senate Council

In February, the Academic Senate Council was busy reviewing and approving Board Policies and Administrative Procedures on a range of issues impacting many areas of the college. Issues that were addressed by the Senate included securing the First Amendment rights of the student news media, enrollment priority setting, and awarding of advanced placement credit. The Academic Council also approved contributing $750 from the Academic Senate Foundation to fund three student scholarships in the amount of $250 each. The Academic Senate Foundation is financed through contributions of faculty members.

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Cuesta Athletes Honored for Academic Success

Each year, nearly 26,000 student athletes from across the State compete on California community college sports teams. Each Spring, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) recognizes teams and individuals that have excelled not only on the field, but more importantly, in the classroom.

This year, three Cuesta College athletic teams are being recognized by the CCCAA! The award is particularly special as it is based off the team’s cumulative GPA thereby emphasizing the collective academic achievements of the team members. Congratulations to our exceptional student athletes and all our fantastic coaches!

The 2018 CCCAA Scholar Team Award recipients are: 

  • Women’s Cross Country Team | 3.452 cumulative GPA (pictured first)
  • Women’s Water Polo Team | 3.076 cumulative GPA (pictured second)
  • Men’s Water Polo Team | 3.160 cumulative GPA (pictured third)

Drama Department Earns National Awards

man of la mancha

The college’s award-winning Drama Department has done it again! After competing at the 2018 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in February, the cast and crew of Man of La Mancha, first debuting at Cuesta College in October of 2017, received more awards at the national competition than any other college. The production will be recognized for its achievements at the National Festival in April, where student actors Allison King and Nicholas Coffey will also be recognized as Music Theatre Fellows.

The awards won by the cast and crew of Man of La Mancha are:

  • Outstanding Production of a Musical 
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical - bree valle
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical - Allison King
  • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical - Nicholas Coffey
  • Outstanding Scenic Design - bree valle and Richard Jackson
  • Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Musical - Tony Costa
  • Distinguished Choreography - bree valle
  • Distinguished Lighting Design - Richard Jackson
  • Distinguished Performance and Production Ensemble

Congratulations to all the students, faculty and staff for such incredible achievements!


2018 Honored Alumni

They are male and female, diverse in age and background, from the public sector, medical industry and educational realm. But they all have one thing in common – they got their higher education start at Cuesta College. Congratulations to this year's exemplary Honored Alumni! They are: 

Dr. Sarah Ashley, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Emergency Physician (pictured first)
Heidi Harmon, City of San Luis Obispo Mayor (pictured second)
Tom O'Malley, City of Atascadero Mayor (pictured third)
Maria Spaeth, Grover Beach Elementary School 2nd Grade Teacher (pictured fourth)

Details on the Foundation Awards Luncheon recognizing them on April 13 can be found above in the What's New section.

2018 Volunteer Award Recipients

Also being recognized at the April 13 Foundation Awards Luncheon are three volunteers who have gone above and beyond volunteering their time and energy to Cuesta College.

This year's Volunteer Award recipients are:

Howard Carroll, Dr. Frank Martinez Superintendent/President's Award
Kailey Schwabenland, John Schaub Student Volunteer Award
Stan and Janice House, Betty Nielsen Volunteer of the Year Award

We thank these individuals for their volunteer service to Cuesta! As a reminder, details on the Foundation Awards Luncheon recognizing them on April 13 can be found above in the What's New section.

2018 Women of Distinction Award Recipients

Cuesta College and The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County’s Women’s Legacy Fund are excited to announce the recipients of the 41st Women of Distinction Awards. This year, the awards honor four Central Coast women for their professional and civic contributions.

The 2018 Women of Distinction Award recipients are:

  • Anita Shower, Community and Public Service Award, Volunteer (pictured first)
  • Grace McIntosh, Community and Public Service Award, Professional (pictured second)
  • Betsy Umhofer, Progress for Women Award (pictured third)
  • Phyllis Davies, Grace N. Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award (pictured third)

An awards ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, March 22, from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Cuesta College’s SLO Campus in Building 5400, Room 5401. The ceremony and awards celebrate Women’s History Month (March) and recognize the contribution that local women have made in the areas of volunteering in the community, their profession, and in philanthropy.

The public is invited to attend the awards ceremony. Tickets to the event cost $25 and are available for purchase on The Community Foundation SLO County’s websiteor by calling (805) 543-2323.

For more information on the award recipients, check out this press release.

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In the News

Over the past few weeks, the following information was included in media segments:

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Hello / Goodbye

As the Cuesta College family changes, I would like to acknowledge our new full-time employees, changes in assignments, and retirements. At the March 7th meeting of the Board of Trustees, the following action took place:

Full-Time Temporary Faculty New Hire

  • Nicole Johnson, Student Health Center Faculty Coordinator

Classified New Hires

  • Bo Branum, Fine Arts Studio Technician
  • Carrie Buhl, Information Technology Trainer/User Support
  • Josefina Cabrera, Bilingual Academic Success Coach
  • Nicole Grant, Administrative Assistant for the Dean of the North County Campus & South County Center
  • Elora Hartmann, Career Connections Secretary II
  • Susan Hoffman, Library Clerical Assistant I
  • Ronald Patrick, Information Technology Network & Systems Administrator
  • Briannna Whitmore, Human Resources Assistant

Management New Hire

  • Katie Mervin, Director of Children’s Center & Early Children’s Education Laboratory

Faculty Retirements

  • June Beck, English (effective: 5/18/18)
  • John Fetcho, Mathematics (effective: 5/19/18)

Classified Retirements

  • Roland Lee McCrea, Library Computer Lab/Learning Management Systems Specialist (effective: 6/12/18)
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Here’s a look at some of the events going on around campus. For the full calendar, visit the Cuesta College Events Calendar:

  • March 19: Book of the Year Main Events Featuring Author Ron Suskind
  • March 20: Food Bank Distribution Site Open
  • March 22: Women of Distinction Award Ceremony
  • March 24: SLO Wind Orchestra, Cuesta Wind Ensemble Concert
  • April 1: Summer Session Application Opens
  • April 2: District Closed
  • April 2-6: Spring Break
  • April 6: Jazz Orchestra Concert
  • April 7: Veterans Resource Fair
  • April 10: Cuesta Police Lunch Fundraiser for Special Olympics
  • April 11: Board of Trustees Meeting (Arroyo Grande)
  • April 12: National Poetry Month Poetry Reading
  • April 13: Cuesta Foundation Awards Luncheon
  • April 17: Food Bank Distribution Site Open
  • April 18: Faculty Lecture Series: The View from the Mellah
  • April 19: Annual Student Art Exhibition Opening Ceremony
  • April 20-May 18: Annual Student Art Exhibition
  • April 21 & 28: Cougar Welcome Days
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Questions? Comments? Email