Chemeketa’s vice president is on paid administrative leave, loses top job in Bend
BY TAVIS EVANS
College officials have confirmed that Patrick Lanning, Chemeketa’s vice president and chief academic officer, has been on paid administrative leave for more than two months.
Greg Harris, the college’s dean of marketing and public affairs, said that Lanning, who also serves as president of the Yamhill campus, has been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 10.
However, the college has not released a reason for the administrative leave, citing legal issues.
Harris said, “Because it’s a personnel matter, it’s sensitive. We are legally advised to keep that confidential.”
Lanning has been unavailable for comment.
The Courier has sent Lanning five emails during the past two weeks, the most recent on April 14, as well as making several visits to his office to obtain information.
The only response to the emails has been an automated note that the message was received.
In one computer-generated response, the message indicated that Lanning was on approved administrative leave. A second message indicated that he was out of the country. Most recently, the message indicated that he was undergoing surgery.
Lanning’s secretary has referred all questions to other college administrators.
Andrew Bone, the college’s executive dean, also indicated that Lanning was on leave but said that he was unable to comment.
The situation has prevented Lanning from an opportunity to become president of another community college.
Central Oregon Community College had selected Lanning as its top choice to become its new president when current president Jim Middleton
retires at the end of the school year, even going so far as to discuss preliminary contracts.
The Central Oregon Board of Education was to appoint him on March 17, but the planned meeting was postponed.
Ron Paradis, a spokesman for Central Oregon, said that meetings to announce a hire were rescheduled because Lanning left the country for a trip to Central America.
The trip to Nicaragua, which was part of a Chemeketa class, took place March 20 to 29.
Paradis said, “The board had been conducting background checks prior to formalizing its decision. Information about the leave came up as part of the board’s due diligence.”
The Central Oregon board then voted unanimously on April 9 not to hire Lanning.
Board chairman Bruce Abernethy said the board determined that there were unanswered questions that provided concern and that the college needed to move forward.
“It is very disappointing to have gone through this process, involved so many members of the campus and the community, yet not be able to hire at this time,” Abernethy told the Bend Bulletin last week.
“We do not know the specifics of the investigation, its timeline, or anything else. Chemeketa has not told us.”
Abernethy also said that Lanning was asked during the interview process whether anything in his past could prove to be an embarrassment to the college, to which he responded no.
“This has been a very difficult last couple of weeks,” Abernethy said. “Obviously this is not the news we wanted. I feel at this point we have made the right decision about moving forward and that we have been fair in our treatment of Dr. Lanning.”
According to Paradis, Central Oregon now plans to restart its search for a new college president. While Lanning continues to draw a salary at Chemeketa, his duties have been taken up by the college’s executive deans.
Jim Eustrom, the college’s executive dean for student development and learning resources, has been named the college’s chief academic officer in Lanning’s absence. Lanning’s other responsibilities have been split among executive deans Johnny Mack and David Hallett.
The duties of the chief academic officer include decisions about curriculum, academic standards and academic planning, and scheduling classes.
Harris said, “I would think that the immediate impact on students would be negligible. What I believe to have the most effect on students is the experience in the classroom with faculty members.”
Harris also said that he doesn’t know when the period of leave would end.
Chemeketa president Cheryl Roberts said, “It would be inappropriate for me to comment besides saying that he is on paid administrative leave.”