Cuesta College closure unlikely
February 6, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
UPDATE: Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo is under an order by its accreditation commission to produce an exit plan for closure of the college by Oct. 15.
Last week, the Commission for Community and Junior Colleges sent Cuesta College an order to show cause for remaining accredited noting that the college is in substantial noncompliance with its eligibility requirements. Specifically in the areas of financial management and stability, assessment plans and technological infrastructure. As part of the order, the college administration is required to develop an exit plan for closure that includes a financial accounting.
Generally, colleges that lose accreditation are not closed, but instead operate under another college’s accreditation.
In 2005, Compton College lost its accreditation as the result of alleged financial mismanagement by its administration. The campus, however, was not shut down, and was temporarily absorbed into the El Camino College. Currently, El Camino College’s president is working with Compton College administrators to bring Compton back to independent accreditation.
It is likely, if Cuesta College loses its accreditation, it would temporally operate as a satellite campus under the wing of Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria.
Cuesta College administrators said today the institution faces the threat of finding itself without accreditation.
The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), located in Novato, issued an order to show cause why Cuesta College’s accreditation should not be removed. On Feb. 3, the commission ordered the college to show evidence that they have eliminated areas of concern during the show cause time period in which the college remains accredited.
Located six miles north of San Luis Obispo, Cuesta provides approximately 10,000 students with vocational training and various Associate degree programs. If accreditation was revoked, course credits would no longer be transferable to other colleges and universities, and students would be unable to collect financial aid.
“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 transferrable courses.”
Accreditation is an established process for evaluation and quality assurance for education used by the American higher education community, according to the ACCJC’s Website.
Forewarned in 2002 that issues regarding program reviews and unit-planning processes could result in the loss of the college’s accreditation, Cuesta College officials admit they fell short in properly addressing the commission’s recommendations.
In Jan. 2008, the commission placed Cuesta on warning status. Six months later, the warning was removed.
Just six months later, in Jan. 2009, the commission again placed the college on warning status. The commission in January 2010 then took away the warning status and placed the college on probation, an improvement.
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. However, several others areas of concern had not been corrected.