Oh Cuesta, my Cuesta

February 9, 2012

Marilyn Rossa


My heart hurts right now. My Cuesta College is seriously wounded. Many of you have been here long enough to remember. There was a time when you only had to interview at Cuesta to fall in love with it. But, times have changed.

How many Cuesta College faculty members have you talked to today who are scared to death that they will lose their job?–first, terrified that their name will be at the top of the pink slip list. Now, certain that Cuesta will close and they will be out of a job. Where are your faculty leaders to quell your fears on today’s news?

Regarding the above issue of pink-slipping, had the faculty, under the leadership of both faculty organizations, applied enormous collective pressure on the district–and, I mean up to and including a job action–Cuesta would not be sending out 23 pink slips to tenured faculty. So, why is the district sending that huge number out? Because they can. Where is the outrage? Where is the outcry? Why the terrible silence? Have you given up?

And, then the news of today. Of course, no longer do I say I’m surprised. I was a bit surprised when Cuesta was put on accreditation warning in 2009. This was Cuesta?  Stable, solid Cuesta? The crown jewel of California’s community colleges? The college with the the highest transfer rate of all the cc’s in the state? This was a Cuesta which won multiple state and national awards for academic excellence. One whose Disabled Students Programs and Services was nationally, no internationally, renowned. We had students coming from other countries just to get into our DSPS; now, like so many other programs at Cuesta, it is a mere skeleton of what it used to be and shrinking.

Yes, Gil Stork had to reveal the ACCJC’s ruling in its entirety, and that’s a good thing. But, he didn’t give you the whole picture. He yelled “fire” and told you not to panic. His tone was unnecessarily inflammatory. To start with, he should have told you that Cuesta is not the only college in this situation. College of the Redwoods just got a “show cause” notice: http://www.times-standard.com/ci_19889869?source=most_viewed. I don’t know if there are others, but, at least you can know that we are not alone.

Further, even with the miniscule chance that Cuesta will lose its accreditation (It’s hard for me to even put that down), Cuesta, as such, will not close. If history is any guide, it would be subsumed into another community college district. Read: Compton College. From a 2011, LA Times article: “School officials had embezzled money and the college was seen as woefully mismanaged when an oversight agency revoked Compton’s accreditation in 2005. After the college gave up on its appeals, it was subsumed by El Camino Community College in Torrance, becoming El Camino Compton Center.” Compton continues to work toward re-accreditation.

In 2006, the Chancellor’s Office made this statement:

“Had the state not taken the extraordinary measures that it has, Compton Community College would have been the first publicly-funded community college in the nation to lose its accreditation and close its doors. Closing the college was never an option. The state invested considerable staffing and fiscal resources to save Compton, because its students and district residents deserve quality education that is accessible, affordable, and located in their own community.

“Although the journey to full recovery and fiscal health will require years of intensive rebuilding of its entire infrastructure, Compton Community College remains open, its classes accredited, and essential state support will continue to remedy the problems that jeopardized its fiscal stability and existence. Educational access at Compton will be preserved for future generations.”

So, just as Compton is now “El Camino College, Compton Center,” Cuesta can become “Allan Hancock College, Cuesta Center.”  Has a nice ring to it, eh?

Because of what had been reported to me today about new faculty anxiety, I think it important for you to know that if you slip by the pink-slipping, you’ll still have a job.

So, now the spin and the finger-pointing begins. There’s enough blame to go around, that’s for sure. One of the biggest players by law in the accreditation process is the Academic Senate. Senates have enormous power in accreditation if they wield it. Unfortunately, ours haven’t. Accreditation reports are not official unless signed by the Senate President. I had to withhold my signature more than once during my several terms as Senate President some years ago: held up signing until the college president agreed to faculty positions. We came to amicable agreement.

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Wow…fascinating opinion piece. I remember when president Pellham resigned a couple of years ago; he made an interesting statement. He stated that Cuesta College staff’s culture was intransigent. Well, it is evident that whether Dr. Pellham was referring to the board of trustees, administration staff, tenure staff or all of the aforementioned folks, they are riding the place right into the ground. The economy has hit all schools hard, so please don’t say it is the economy. I think that is time to clean house. Oh wait, it is public sector employees we are talking about. Never mind, let’s just continue to fund the intransigent culture until they become a satellite campus to a better administered school system (forget Hancock Marilyn…you should be thinking about being absorbed by Cal Poly).


Since you are in full disclosure mode regarding your statement below – I have not seen anything on the BOT website or anywhere for that matter regarding pink slips. Since you’ve disclosed the number go ahead and disclose the names. And the source of your information.

“Regarding the above issue of pink-slipping, had the faculty, under the leadership of both faculty organizations, applied enormous collective pressure on the district–and, I mean up to and including a job action–Cuesta would not be sending out 23 pink slips to tenured faculty. So, why is the district sending that huge number out?”


Thanks for asking. The source is Gil Stork, He gave that figure to faculty on Opening Day of Spring semester. Obviously, you don’t know anything about how this works. This kind of thing would not be on the BOT website. As far as the names of those who are going to be slipped? No one knows that for sure yet. Do you really think the college would post the names of those faculty publicly? The faculty themselves don’t know if they’re on the list until they receive that dreaded piece of mail. But, in case you’re wondering, no, I am not going to be on the list. Most, if not all, will be those newer, poorer faculty who hoped that by coming to Cuesta they would have a professional home where they could do what they love: teach students.

As to why the district is sending out pink slips: It’s become the thing to do hasn’t it? Getting rid of faculty is the easiest thing for management to do. No extra work for them and after the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, they can go on and spend whatever money they do have on what they want with no one to stop them.

Send any other questions my way. I’m an open book. But, why is it that you people don’t use your real names? Find some courage and let’s have a real debate. Maybe, if we had done this earlier, Cuesta would not be where it is today. I’ll end with this. Roger Freberg and I probably agree on almost nothing politically. But, I respect him for using his real name on this blog.

Oh Cuesta, my Cuesta – I love you so much I’m suing you.

It’s like God has delegated the running of the central coast to The Onion or National Lampoon, so that they don’t have to go to all the trouble making up their headlines and copy.

This Op Ed does not pass the “smell test” for me. The timing is just too premeditated.

rOy et al,

1.) I sent out my editorial in a regular newsletter to the Cuesta faculty on Monday, February 6, when we got the word that day about the “Show Cause” accreditation status.

2.) On February 7, Karen Velie from CCN asked if she could run it as an Opinion piece. I said “sure.”

3.) On February 9, the Tribune published the article about the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed approximately 6 weeks ago. No one from the Tribune contacted any of the plaintiffs about the suit or the article it was planning to run. Nick Wilson, the reporter, could confirm this. Why they chose to run it then was their decision.

But, even if it had not been truly coincidental, I’m at a loss to see how the running of the two pieces in the same week could benefit me or anyone.

OK, let the spin begin.

But, if any of you want to see the full editorial piece sent to Cuesta faculty (CCN ran an abridged version), please go to http://tinyurl.com/7j7qdt7. And, please let me know if you want to be on the mailing list for future editions. You can email me at mlarq@earthlink.net.

Because the truth matters–


Break the union and hire people willing to add value rather than whine, strike, sue and go out on the sick.

Oh, I think finger pointing needs to begin… right at the Cuesta Board.

I am not saying that any one of these folks aren’t ‘good people’… some are very good people, however, good people have to make decisions and I haven’t seen much come out of there.

So, what is their plan to solve this mess…. and don’t say ‘raise taxes.’ K-12 and the CC’s have more money than anyone…. by law!

Marilyn Rossa doesn’t want a pink slip.

What she wants is an early retirement slip along with a large sex discrimination settlement.

She’s got all her bases covered.

Indeed. It’s a survival scenario and she looks like she’s doing well in that game. It appears as each day passes life is becoming more like a ‘each person for themselves’ rather than a cohesive body of humans working together to solve issues at hand in an expedient and monetarily wise fashion.

You obviously don’t have a clue about what’s going on at Cuesta or about Marilyn. You’re angry at the wrong person.

It’s a coincidence Rossa pens this editorial at the same time her harassment suit goes public?

Nowhere have I seen any of the so-called ‘deficiencies’ listed or discussed, just repeated references to ‘these issues.’ Anybody know what complaints the accreditation agencies have?

My guess is that it is a bunch of bureaucrats feeding amongst themselves for survival. All businesses have to put up with this crap every year, academia used to have the wink-and-nod luxury of being a part of the system, and not being fleeced by it.

Times seem to be changing. I would bet dollars to donuts that their “deficiencies” are nothing but missing/outdated plans of action, training, procedures and manuals – all that make-work crap that feeds these mushrooms…

The accreditation complaints are very clearly outlined in the document that was sent to the district. This web link will give you the information you would like to review:


The original link I gave is does not contain the information you seek. The copy of the actual document is on this page: