Cuesta Superintendent/President to retire after 50 years with school
–Gilbert H. Stork, Ed.D., superintendent/president of Cuesta College since 2010, has announced his plans to retire as of June 30, 2018. Employed at Cuesta College for more than 50 years, Stork is the college’s longest serving employee.
“Serving the California community college system for more than 50 years is commendable; serving those years at a single institution is simply remarkable,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “To dedicate half a century of one’s life to a single college exemplifies true loyalty and passion. The leadership of Gil Stork has surely touched countless lives and inspired many in San Luis Obispo County and around the state. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office wishes to congratulate Stork on his retirement as Superintendent/President and applaud his devotion to the system and Cuesta College.”
“Cuesta College Superintendent/President Gil Stork has been the extraordinary leader we needed during very difficult years for both this college district and community colleges throughout California,” said Cuesta College Board of Trustees President Barbara George. “He guided us through times of drastic state budget cuts and accreditation sanction, and he righted our ship. Moving forward from difficult times, he inspired innovation and change, and now we are considered a model community college throughout the state.”
“In my 50 years at Cuesta College, I have had the privilege to work with a caring and dedicated faculty, staff, and administration and have experienced a great sense of achievement as I have observed them take ownership of what we do and how we do it,” said Stork. “Equally important has been the quality and caring exhibited by the Cuesta College Board of Trustees. To be able to work with an elected Board that provides such support for and confidence in me is a gift for any president.”
Under Stork’s eight-year tenure as president of Cuesta College, the institution made positive gains in many areas.
In 2014, San Luis Obispo County voters passed Measure L, a $275 million general obligation bond. For the first time in more than 40 years, college infrastructure facilities are being expanded and improved in the form of repairs, construction of new facilities, technology upgrades, and more. In addition to infrastructure improvements to the aquatic center, new HVAC units and roofs, and various complex renovations, projects currently under construction include:
–A 32,000 square foot, two-story San Luis Obispo Campus Instructional Building. Comprised of eight high-capacity multi-discipline classrooms capable of serving up to 50 students each, one forum-size classroom, and more than 40 offices, the structure is set to open in spring of 2018.
–A 43,000 square foot, two-story North County Campus Center. Housing a variety of services, such as counseling, admissions and records, financial aid, the cafeteria, bookstore, student life and leadership, and the health center, the structure is set to open spring of 2018.
Also in 2014, the college launched the Cuesta College Promise Scholarship, which provides a fee-free full year at Cuesta College for all recent San Luis Obispo County high school graduates. Since the scholarship launched in 2014, the participation rate of local high school students enrolling at Cuesta College has doubled to more than 40 percent, allowing local students access to a more affordable college education. Cuesta College’s 2017 commencement ceremony saw more than 100 Promise Scholarship recipients earn degrees and certificates, the largest group of graduating Promise Scholarship recipients yet. As of today, more than 2,100 local students have received the Promise Scholarship, the result of an $8 million private donation to the college endowed by the Cuesta College Foundation.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve in various roles at Cuesta College,” said Stork. “The challenges of an open-door institution where we encourage residents of San Luis Obispo County to ‘come as you are’ results in phenomenal success stories written by students who just needed a chance.”
Cuesta College has earned the following distinguished designations since Stork became president/superintendent:
• Hispanic Serving Institution: This official designation from the state reflects the college’s growing Latino/a student population and allows Cuesta to apply for grants to expand educational opportunities for Latino/a students.
• Cuesta College maintains a Military Friendly School designation for its work to support and provide services to military and veteran students.
• For promoting equity, diversity and inclusion the college maintains a No Place for Hate designation.
• Schools.com designated Cuesta College a 2015 Top 25 California Community College, while edsmart.com designated the college a Top California Community College.
Under Stork’s leadership, notable accomplishments include: • Navigating the process of aligning the college’s budget with reduced funding from the state while focusing on minimizing the impact on students and staff. Today, the college is operating within a budget centered on long-range fiscal planning.
• Successfully achieving reaffirmation of the college’s accreditation status after experiencing multiple years of sanctions for non-compliance. The effort to become fully compliant required an institutional commitment and collective efforts of administration, faculty, and staff. Today, Cuesta College is viewed as a model California community college for its decision-making and planning processes.
• Transferring more students to Cal Poly than any other school. In addition, the college launched the Associate Degrees for Transfer to the CSU system in 2011; the college currently offers 26 AD-T’s.
• Supporting and expanding robust Career Technical Education programs, as evidenced by Cuesta College student’s consistent presence on the SkillsUSA national podium for more than a decade. In 2015, the college launched an Agriculture Business Program and in 2017 expanded it to include Agriculture Plant Science and Agriculture Mechanics.
• Once again offering its Emeritus College Program, free courses that offer lifelong learning to older adults through Cuesta College Community Programs.
Stork’s career at Cuesta College began two years after the college opened its doors in 1967; he was hired as a physical education instructor and assistant football coach. From 1970-1977, Stork served as a mathematics instructor, during which time he also served as the division chair of the physical sciences and mathematics division. In 1977, Stork was promoted to associate dean of instruction and then to dean of instruction in 1979. In 1990, Stork was hired as the assistant superintendent/vice president of student services, and retired from that position in 2004. Immediately thereafter, Stork assumed the role of interim vice president/assistant superintendent of student services, then interim dean of humanities, followed by interim dean of workforce and economic development. In 2010, he was hired as Cuesta College’s interim superintendent/president and became permanent in 2012.
Stork earned a Bachelor’s in Science Degree in Mathematics in 1963 and a Master’s in Science Degree in Mathematics in 1965; both from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Administration in 1981 from Brigham Young University.
Community involvement activities include:
• Member: SLO Rotary Club since 1986
• Member: Old Mission Parish in SLO
• Co-chair of capital campaign for seismic retrofit of Old Mission
• Served on local boards of directors for SLO Chamber of Commerce, Economic Vitality Corporation, Sierra Vista Hospital, Community Counseling Center, and the Workforce Development Board.
• Volunteer auctioneer raising over $2.3 million in funds for non-profit organizations including Cuesta College Foundation, Cuesta College Athletic Boosters, Friends of the Cuesta College Cultural and Performing Arts Center, SLO Children’s Museum, SLO County Symphony, SLO Little Theater, Pacific Repertory Opera, Arts for Youth, SLO Rotary, YMCA, Friends of Hearst Castle, and more.
• Cal Poly Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, 2017
• Louis Tedone, M.D., Humanitarian Award by the French Hospital Medical Center Foundation, 2016
• Sandra Gardebring Ogren Leadership Award, Cal Poly Alumni Association, 2015
• Cal Poly School of Education Friend of Education Award, 2011
• Cal Poly Athletic Hall of Fame, 2006
• Cuesta College President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership, 2004
• SLO Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, 2000
• SLO County School Boards Association Service Award, 1996
A resident of San Luis Obispo for nearly 70 years, Stork has been married to his wife, Jan, for 53 years. They have five adult children and ten grandchildren. “My family has never let me forget that I am a husband, father, and grandfather,” said Stork. “They have been the backbone that has helped shape the person I have become.”
“Today, the college is prepared for a change in leadership, a change that can provide new energy, new ideas, and new vision,” said Stork. “It has been an honor to have served as president of Cuesta College these past eight years and to be part of Cuesta College’s rich history.”
Cuesta College will launch a nationwide search to fill the position of superintendent/president. For more information, contact the Cuesta College Human Relations Department at (805) 546-3129.