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Cuesta hires a heavy hitter for its accreditation fight 

With its status as an accredited institution on its last leg, Cuesta College has hired Eva Conrad of the College Brain Trust for $234 an hour to swoop in and hopefully save the day.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) demoted Cuesta’s accreditation status on Feb. 1 when it found the school had failed to improve adequately in three areas of concern: technology resources, financial planning and stability, and planning and assessment. The college has been on “warning status” since 2009, and now must “show cause” that it deserves to be accredited by October of this year or face a loss of state/federal funds and possible closure. In the meantime, the school retains its accreditation, and all class credits are transferable to other institutions.

Conrad served as president of Moorpark College from 2002 to 2008, and according to her biography on the College Brain Trust website, she received ample praise for the school’s streamlined, innovative approach to integrative planning when the accrediting commission inspected the school under her watch and granted it full approval.

Her experience should benefit Cuesta, as the school’s problems outlined by the commission are centered on a seeming inability to follow through on long-term goals.

“All this planning goes on, but we haven’t used it to make decisions for resource allocation,” Academic Senate President Kevin Bontenbal told New Times. “We tend to just roll over the budget from last year.”

Bontenbal said the school has drafted and approved a master plan for maintaining its technology resources, but those goals haven’t influenced funding for such services.

Last year, two colleges in the South Orange County Community College District were removed from “warning” status by the accrediting commission and had full accreditation approval restored. They used Conrad as a consultant, according to Ray Giles of the College Brain Trust.

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