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Cuesta College faculty awarded tenure 

cuesta tenure

From left to right: Kelli Gottlieb, Erich Tucker, Shelby Burnett, Jenel Guadagno, Zachary McKiernan. Courtesy photos. 

–This week, five Cuesta College faculty members were awarded tenure by the San Luis Obispo County Community College District Board of Trustees.

The board approved the recommendation of the Institutional Tenure Review Committee at their February meeting. Tenure is granted to faculty members who demonstrate consistent qualities with the college’s ideals of educational excellence. These faculty members must uphold specific standards in their interactions with students, colleagues, and the community and pursue growth and development in their discipline.

Shelby Burnett, mathematics

Shelby Burnett obtained her M.S. in mathematics from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has taught and tutored math at the middle school, high school, and college levels. She started her Cuesta College career as an adjunct instructor while also teaching math part-time at Cal Poly.

Kelli Gottlieb, physical sciences

Kelli Gottlieb is a chemistry instructor in the physical sciences division teaching general and organic chemistry. She earned a B.S. in chemistry from Cal Poly and a Ph.D. in Chemistry at UC Davis. Her work’s primary focus was developing synthetic methodology in the synthesis of potential drug targets containing carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen atoms.

Gottlieb also serves as the physical sciences division’s Academic Senate representative. While chemistry dominates most of her thoughts, days, and conversations, she is also a big fan of singing, hiking, gardening, cooking, video games, and Disneyland.

Jenel Guadagno, athletics

Jenel Guadagno is in her fourth year of teaching and coaching softball at Cuesta College. She began her athletic and academic career at Cerritos College, then transferred to Point Loma Nazarene University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. She got her master’s degree at Concordia University in exercise and sports science with an emphasis in coaching and athletic administration.

When she is not on the field or in the classroom, Guadagno serves on the Web and Technology Committee and fills in for Academic Senate as needed. She is the Western State Conference Cuesta College women’s sports representative. She enjoys hiking, camping, snowboarding, surfing, biking, riding, fishing, and cooking.

Zachary McKiernan, social sciences

Zachary McKiernan teaches world history at Cuesta College. He received a B.A. in History at Loyola University Chicago and earned both an M.A. in Latin American studies and a Ph.D. in history from the University of California Santa Barbara.

He is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Central Coast Queer Archive, and the National Council on Public History. Additionally, his grant-funded research, scholarly, and public work has been with human rights organizations in Chile and civil rights veterans in Virginia.

In all of his experiences, he has endeavored to use past knowledge to inform the present. He holds that historical knowledge highlights and improves the human condition, solve problems, and build community. He is supported by his loving spouse, Dr. Meghan McKiernan, and their three sons, Finn, Jobe, and Luke.

Erich Tucker, languages and communication

Erich Tucker was raised in Chicago as the only member of his family to be Deaf. Diagnosed at the age of 5 with hereditary progressive hearing loss, he became fully Deaf at 21. He received a bachelor’s degree in pre-law with an emphasis in Interdisciplinary Studies (Political Science/Justice Studies) from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in teaching American Sign Language from the University of Northern Colorado. He is currently a doctorate student at Lamar University in Texas pursuing an education doctorate in Deaf studies / Deaf education.

Tucker has been married to his wife, Sarah, for 15 years and has four children. He has taught at Cuesta College since 2013 and is the first tenured fully Deaf faculty member ever hired in the county of San Luis Obispo. He is passionate about sharing his language, culture, and customs with students in the classroom and allowing them an opportunity to explore their passions.


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