Cuesta College’s accreditation is reaffirmed
On Jan. 10, 2014, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), the regional accrediting agency that evaluates two-year colleges in California, took action to remove Cuesta College from warning status and reaffirm its accreditation. In a letter from ACCJC President Barbara A. Beno, the Commission affirms that Cuesta College has provided evidence that it is now in full compliance with all accreditation standards.
“I am extremely pleased with the action announced by the accreditation commission to remove Cuesta College from all sanctions and Reaffirm our accreditation status. I cannot say enough about the commitment of our faculty, staff, administration, students, and Board of Trustees to work together to ensure Cuesta’s place at the center of excellence, especially the leadership of Vice President Deborah Wulff and Academic Senate President Dr. Kevin Bontenbal.” said Superintendent/President Gil Stork.
“As it has for the past fifty years, Cuesta College will continue to serve the educational needs of all residents of San Luis Obispo County with the level of excellence that they deserve and have come to expect. I can truly say that I am honored to have been given the opportunity to be president of a college community that cares so deeply about its mission to serve the needs of our students.”
In February of 2013, the ACCJC placed the school on warning, the least severe level of sanction. In October of 2013, the college submitted a follow-up report to the Commission. An evaluation team visited the campus a month later, and in January of 2014, the 19-member Commission met to decide whether the ‘warning’ status would be lifted.
The visiting team’s Follow-Up Team Report stated: “It is the opinion of the team that the administrators, faculty, staff, students, and supporting community of Cuesta College have engineered a remarkable turnaround that is astonishing in its breadth and depth. To create a cultural shift of this magnitude in an institution the size of Cuesta College is a remarkable feat and should be applauded.”
According to the Commission’s letter, dated February 7, “The Commission commends Cuesta College on the depth and quality of the continuous quality improvement processes now in place…Congratulations to all.”
“Cuesta College is once again recognized as one of the top performing community colleges in the state. The Commission’s action reaffirms the hard work and dedication of the Cuesta team and recognizes the world class education our faculty, staff and administration provide to our students.” said Pat Mullen, President of the San Luis Obispo County Community College District/Cuesta College Board of Trustees.
Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Academic Affairs, Deborah Wulff – who also serves as the college’s Accreditation Liaison Officer – also praised the efforts of the college as a whole: “This decision recognizes the college’s achievements over the last couple of years. I am thankful for the excellent work of my colleagues which demonstrates to our peers and the Commission that we meet the standards.”
Accreditation is the primary means that educational institutions assure and improve quality. California community colleges must apply to the ACCJC, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. The process focuses on self-evaluation, peer review and quality improvement. Institutions are either reaffirmed or placed on sanction, which include four levels: warning, probation, show cause and termination of accreditation.
The college’s accreditation web page (http://www.cuesta.edu/aboutcc/planning/accreditation) has been updated with the college’s Follow-Up Report, the Follow-Up Team Report, and the Commission action letter.
FAQ on Cuesta’s accreditation status
Q: What is accreditation?
A: Accreditation is the process for evaluating and assuring the quality of education used by the higher educational community. Cuesta College’s accreditation is issued and re-evaluated every six years by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which has accredited Cuesta since Jan. 1, 1968. The process focuses on self-evaluation, peer review and quality improvement.
Q: What is the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges?
A: The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges accredits associate degree-granting institutions in the Western region of the United States — California, Hawaii and a few other locations. ACCJC operates under the corporate entity the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. ACCJC is one of seven regional accrediting commissions. The accrediting organization is authorized to operate by the U.S. Department of Education through the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. For more on the ACCJC, visit http://www.accjc.org.
Q: What is an accreditation sanction?
A: Institutions are either affirmed or placed on sanction, which has four levels of sanction: warning, probation, show cause and termination of accreditation. A sanction signals that there are institutional issues that need to be addressed. While on sanction, a college’s accreditation continues as the institution works to resolve the deficiencies.
Q: What happens next?
A: Institutions are expected to meet Eligibility Requirements, Accreditation Standards, and Commission policies at all times during the six-year review cycle. Cuesta College must demonstrate to the Commission at the time of the next scheduled report that the recent changes implemented to resolve deficiencies and meet Standards has been sustained. The College is schedules to submit its Institutional Self Evaluation Report in the fall of 2014.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: The college has created an accreditation web page, which is regularly updated. Here’s the link: